the nine lives of covid

“Sorry, I didn’t have a choice. Mistletoe!”
— zach to marilee

Having won the lottery, we’re at the joint to get our first COVID shot. It’s been a stressful arrival. A major wreck has shut down the entrance, forcing us to randomly weave around the endless parking lot of the fairgrounds of the Arizona State Fair. There is not a corn dog, funnel cake or ’80s hair band to be had.

Go this way and wait here, the nice man says. YOU CAN’T GO THAT WAY AND WAIT THERE, a nice security person says. Just follow a car randomly, Mo says, and that turns out to be the solution.

So now we’re in the state fair’s sheep barn, waiting either for a shot or a sheep dip. I’m not certain if there have been clinical studies on the effect of a hearty sheep dip on the coronavirus, but you never know. Although I do know that sheep dip doesn’t sound like something I would want with my tortilla chips. Fortunately we have no tortilla chips, so this moral dilemma is left unconfronted.

I roll down my window, and standing before me is a young guy who bears an uncanny resemblance to the hunky firefighter in a Hallmark movie about the rescue of a cat and its ensuing love story. Yes, I watch too many Hallmark movies. We’re in a pandemic, dammit. You do what you must do.

He is Drop-Dead Gorgeous, with huge biceps that make me wonder exactly how hard he’s going to jab me with the needle.

Nice guy. We go through the checklist, he gives me the shot, which hurts not at all, applies my hello kitty band-aid, and tells me that’s it. I swoon (possibly a side effect of the vaccine, mind you), totally questioning my sexuality. My wife, on the other hand, does not question hers.

She’s in the passenger seat and he reaches for her right arm, but she insists that he shoot her in the left arm instead. This, of course, means she has to GET OUT OF THE CAR to get the shot, snuggling up next to the unsuspecting EMT.

“Thank you so much for your help here,” she says, eyelashes fluttering. Looking over at me, she adds, “And thank you for being so kind to my elderly father. As an unmarried female selflessly taking care of her crabby dad, I appreciate your efforts so much. OK, I’m ready for the shot but I’ll warn you that I’m prone to fainting, so please catch me if I start to fall, and never let me go.”

Despite her best efforts, the firefighter assures her she does NOT need to take her shirt off to get vaccinated. He quickly gives her the shot and helps her back into the car. I don’t know if he rescued her cat. Fortunately, there was no mistletoe in the barn. The sheep likely ate it.

We wait the obligatory 15 minutes and drive away in search of Grand Avenue pizza. It’s not quite the same plot line as the Christmas movie, but I take solace in knowing that Hallmark always has a happy ending. I I look forward to ours.

If I’m ever ailing and EMTs are called, I hope they don’t send this guy. I’m worried about what Mo might do. Nine lives, indeed.

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yes, we have no bananas

If you’re ever lucky enough to come across someone who will enthusiastically agree to wear a banana suit while holding a sparkler and a pumpkin wearing sunglasses on the track for no particular reason while a team is running intervals around you, hang onto her as long as you can.

And when she decides it’s time to catch a flight to the next adventure, wave goodbye at the gate with a smile, grateful she found her way into your world.

Safe travels, chica. See you in the next incarnation. I’ll bring the banana suits.

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conversations with my doctor, part 4

“Life is hard, honey. Everyone finds a way.”
Carla in “Everything, Everything” by Nicole Yoon

Doctor: Hey. How’s the chemo treating you?

Me: I enjoy it a lot. I may continue it on a recreational basis after we’re done. Do you think it’s possible to buy Obinutuzumab on the street?

Doctor (looking at new doctor who’s shadowing him): In all my years, nobody has ever said that to me. Figures it’s him.

New doctor: Confused look.

Doctor: So how are you feeling? Are you running or is this sidelining you?

Me: Oh, shuffling along. Still slow, but I’m feeling better.

Doctor: What shoes are those?

Me: Altra Escalante.

Doctor: Do you like them?

Me: They’re OK. Mostly I like saying “Altra Escalante.”

Doctor: These are the old Brooks Cascadias. Beat to hell. Look at this hole!

Me: Just getting them broken in.

New doctor: Wondering what the hell.

Me: The new doctor is wearing Allbirds, world’s coolest shoes. Super light, environmentally friendly. I like her already.

Doctor to new doctor: Oh, god. Another minimalist. Do you run?

New doctor (embarrassed): No, but I do other stuff.

Doctor: Makes mental note to flunk her.

Doctor to me: Well, it’s good you’re still running, even if you’re getting passed by little girls. And I’m not knocking little girls. In my one and only marathon, I got passed in the last quarter mile on the track we were finishing on by a girl. Went out at 6-minute pace, backed off, picked it up again at 18, and then died at the end. And there she was.

Me: Yeah, when I asked my roommate what his goal was in his first 8k back in 1980 ,he said he had no particular time in mind; only that there was no way any girls would beat him. He never said that again.

New doctor: Ponders career change.

Doctor: Well, your numbers look good. Let’s keep doing what we’re doing. See you next month.

Me: Sounds good.

New doctor: Begins mentally writing resignation letter. Or planning marathon training.

I love my oncologist. Life is hard. But we’re finding a way.

lifeisshort

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the day my life changed forever. a photo essay

Don’t cry because it’s over.
Smile because it happened.
— the prophet theodor geisel

The COVID mambo has reduced my life to a limited set of activities.

I wake up, drink coffee, go for a run, edit some newspapers in my little dungeon, watch a Hallmark movie and go to bed.

But then.

Mo, using her superior tech skills and come-hither looks, got us appointments for the vaccine. It’s the new one called “Placebo,” so it must be good.

I cannot wait to get vaccinated and begin my new post-COVID schedule.

I will wake up, drink coffee, go for a run, edit some newspapers in my little dungeon, watch a Hallmark movie and go to bed.

But my arm will hurt.

God bless modern science. And Dr. Seuss.

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outside in the hall there’s a cat fight

Neon in the window
Sirens far away
News on the radio
happy birthday
happy birthday
happy birthday
— the prophet johnette lin napolitano

The best thing about celebrating your brother’s birthday by long distance: You don’t have to share the cake with him.

The worst thing about celebrating your brother’s birthday by long distance:  You bought the funny gag candles that won’t blow out, before realizing he can’t blow them out via Zoom anyhow, and you are left with a raging inferno.

I’m four years older than Mike, so I was greatly disturbed to find out how old he is. He’s a computer guy, so I assume he just reboots a lot to maintain his boyish charm.

We have much in common, as brothers do. A love of guitars and Texas, wives that are much too good for us, a penchant for Dr Pepper and obscure folk singers who never quite made it. We’ve lived the classic brother movie: Boy meets brother, boy loses brother, boy figures out before it’s too late how great his brother is.

And so these days we meet up a lot on the interwebz, talking way too long and having way too much fun. Being guys and bound by The Guy Code, you can’t say you love each other,  so you swap stories about how to make coffee on a camp stove when it’s 3 degrees outside, and how to recover an abducted space monkey when it’s been kidnapped by a deranged arteest. But you know. Because you’re brothers.

You can never be sure how many birthdays you have left. But you can be sure how much cake you have left. And we had a lot more of it because he wasn’t here. A happy birthday indeed.

Now if these candles will stop burning before the apartment goes up in flames …

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