Monday, January 30, 2012

Career Paths

In a marriage, you do things for each other. Some things are awesome, some are ordinary, some dreadful, and some just plain dull. Actually, things start off as dull, but lately nothing ends up that way. I pass by our pharmacy on the way home, so Sara asks me to stop and pick things up once in a while. The other day, the doctor was supposed to call in a prescription for her, so I wrote myself a note and stopped there on the way home. One of the reasons I don't really mind stopping there is that no matter who you are in life, sooner or later you have to stop at the CVS for something. You just can't avoid it, and at our CVS smack dab in the middle of the Main Line, billionaire socialites, hungover Villanova students, middle class Joes, and garden variety lunatics are all at the same level in life while standing in line waiting for our pierced and transdermally implanted checkout clerk to wait on them.
When I got there, it was almost empty, just a few stragglers in the aisles. I got in line at the prescription counter behind a woman who looked to be in her 60s... Well dressed, rotund, and pulsing with energy. I sort of tuned her out while she rattled on about a prescription she was waiting for, but the more she talked, the less I could ignore the conversation. After a couple of minutes, it got interesting.
"I found a dollar in the parking lot", she said to the pharmacist. "I found a dollar."
My ears perked up. The pharmacist, I guess because he couldn't muster up the correct response to this, stared blankly at her. This was completely unacceptable, apparently, because she fished the dollar bill out of her jacket pocket and waved it around in front of him. Then, to hammer the point in, said "it was just blowing around out there!"
In my head, I had so many sarcastic answers to this conversation that I started to mentally categorize them into lists - mean funny, sarcastic funny, well golly gee funny - you know, lists. Before she had put the bill back in her pocket I had devised a complex story about an elaborate dollar bill tracking system that I had developed in high school - and how by taking the temperature of the bill I could tell how long it had been out of someone's pocket. Then by taking into account average wind speed and direction, adjusting for the friction as it tumbled across the asphalt, I could pinpoint the exact spot where the bill had first been lost. These calculations, coupled with the CVS security camera footage (which I'm sure I could get access to) might just show us who was walking in or out of the pharmacy when this tragedy occurred. The rest would be easy (I would confidently explain) because I could use some basic facial recognition software to identify the person, and with the pharmacy records, simply refund the money to their debit card from the woman's bank account and she could keep the dollar, and everything would be even-steven. "Unfortunately," I thought I would say, as she peered lovingly into my eyes having solved her grand dollar bill dilemma, "although my lost bill tracking algorithm is flawless, it costs several million dollars to fire up the Cray supercomputer I have in my trunk and run through all of the calculations. I hope you have your checkbook."
Still, the pharmacist had nothing, and he continued look at her with a blank deer-in-headlights sort of stare. Luckily for him, she turned and walked away, and he went about shuffling the prescription bags on his shelf. I was next in line, and when he turned back to me and said "can I help you?", I mustered up as straight of a face as I could and said, "yeah, hi. I think I might have lost a dollar in your parking lot."
You know what I got from him? Nothing. Not a smile, not a giggle, nothing. I was sure (in my head) that it was a pretty damn funny thing to say though, so I gave him a good 20 second pause.
still nothing... so I moved on... "I'm here to pick up a prescription for my wife" I said, and gave him her name. He picked through the prescription bags, then looked in the computer.
"Are you sure she had something waiting?" he asked.
At this point, I was still running through dollar bill identification jokes in my head, so I wasn't really all that upset I was going to walk out of the CVS empty handed.
"Well," I said, "she said the doctor was going to call something in for her, but maybe she's insane."
And you know what I got from him? No, no you don't, because in my wildest imagination I could not have come up with a more boring, white toast of an answer. He turns to me and says, "I think it's more likely that the doctor didn't call it in."
As if I was implying that she was actually insane. Really. In his head he must have decided that this was the most plausible answer, given the options I had presented him with, and that's what I got. She's not insane. Gotcha. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I'm not a pharmacist.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Rules Of Tajweed

Usually, Sam ends up in the hospital. I do too, sometimes, but not nearly as often as the boy. Lily and Sara seem to have been spared whatever gene it is that causes the two of us to injure ourselves in spectacular and life altering ways, and they just seem to get hurt like regular people. I know, deep down, that Sam’s injuries are some sort of karmic retribution for all of the times I
made my way back home covered in blood and turned my parent’s downstairs bathroom into a triage unit. I’m OK though, I’ve accepted it as something that the universe wants, and I have gauze and splints at the ready. The dog injuries are a bit unexpected though, and it seems like they’re a bit more than I deserve. When we had kids, we found a good pediatrician and a nearby hospital, we stocked up on medicine and band-aids, and we always have plenty of ice. When we got the dogs, we got chew toys and a bed – when we should have been shopping for things like those head cones so they can’t chew on themselves. We’re on our third and fourth dog though, and we should know something will happen eventually. This time it was Steve… we had a regular day, filled with regular stuff, but after the kids went to bed Steve swelled up to twice his original size. Why? Who knows. I thought it might have been the bit of sea bass he had with his dinner, but the vet seemed to think it was a reaction to some sort of bite. I didn’t go to the vet, mind you, I know better. I called the after-hours line and had him call me back, because our emergency 24 hour vet service looks at your net worth before they agree to treat your pet… it’s cheaper to get counseling for your loss, have a taxidermist preserve your old pet, and buy a new dog… Anyway, our vet called back, and from the sound of his voice I could tell he was in his pajamas. I described what was going on, and he hemmed and hawed for a minute, and said, “How much does Steve weigh now?” "
“180 pounds”
“Did you say 180 pounds?”
“I did. I mean I guess, last time we weighed him he was 170 pounds, and he’s
a lot bigger…”
(slight pause in the conversation)
“OK,” he said, “ give him 200mg of Benadryl tonight, and let me know how he
is in the morning.”
Do we have Benadryl? Of course we do. Can I find it at 10pm? Of course I can’t … so I look in every cabinet. While I’m looking, Steve keeps getting bigger. His eyes are swelling shut, and his jowls (which hang down as it is) look like two porterhouse steaks attached to the side of his face. Finally, I find a bottle of liquid bubblegum flavored Benadryl, which I’m sure he’ll eat because
he eats everything… Everything, it turns out, except bubblegum flavored Benadryl… Luckily, I finally find a stash of pills - so I count out eight of them, put them inside a piece of bread with some peanut butter, and hand it over. At this point though, he’s either too swollen or too distrustful to eat it, and I spend the next 10 minutes prying his mouth open and shoving little
satchels of Benadryl sandwich down his throat (which, conveniently, is the same size as my arm). All the while he’s conveniently ambivalent to the whole situation, and when the Benadryl kicks in, he lazily rubs his paws on his eyes and walks in circles around the living room.
Since I'm up all night, I'm mulling things over, like how Sam is finally embracing his injuries. He’s still getting hurt as regularly, but he has seemed to accept it. Lately he comes home from school with some bruises and cuts, shows them to me, and moves on with his day… as opposed to asking for band-aids and ice packs. It’s been sort of a gradual change, and I didn’t really notice until basketball season started. He isn’t the best basketball player, but he’s good. Plus, he plays hard. Hard enough to get in the middle of things, to dive, to wrestle for the ball, and to hit the floor if he needs to after he takes a shot. During a rough game last week he tore a chunk of skin off the underside of his arm, and got a bruise the size of an orange on his hip when he was in the middle of a scrum. I saw him get slammed onto the floor, saw him slide, and winced… but he got up running, and just kept going. After the game he was pretty sore, but during the game, he was relentless. The thing is, I’m not sure what the proper emotion for this is… pride? I was proud of him. I was. It felt sort of wrong though, like I should have told him to go to the bench if he needed to, should have gotten him some ice…
But it makes sense, in a weird sort of way. Sam is intense. Lily is dramatic and hilarious, but Sam is driven. When he wants something, he makes it happen…. When he wants to learn all the words to a song, he listens to it over and over, Googles the lyrics and prints them out, and memorizes them. When he wants to learn something, he learns it – and when he wants the ball, he gets it. It's like he has a set of rules for himself, and once he decides there is something he has to do, it's hard to peel him off track.
Lily, on the other hand, lives to be peeled off track. She has this thing that I don't think many other people see, this sense of humor that she doesn't share with everyone. I can't really figure out why though... maybe she's self conscious, or maybe she doesn't think she's funny, I have no idea. But she has it, more than most people I know. She has good timing, and really honest delivery. There have been times when she has made me laugh so hard that I can't breathe, and there aren't many people that can do that. On purpose, anyway.
... so I'm up all night with Steve, and he's alternating between rubbing his face, pawing at me to pet him, or pacing anxiously around the room. All the while I'm thinking about the kids, Steve, and the blog. I'm thinking about how much I dread writing a post when I feel like I have to, and how much I miss being in front of the computer when I have something to say. I think about how nice it would be to gracefully close Tickle, Cook, Breathe since it's lived a long life. And after a long night of fits and spurts of sleep interrupted by the dog, I'm sitting on the couch when the first rays of sunlight spill over the windowsill and I think to myself "the first rays of sunlight spill over the windowsill. I should write that down."
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