if its storytime they want…
Way back when I was earning my first degree in college, I needed to earn pocket change. Among other ways, I began shuttling a few of my fellow students. Now, on this particular trip it was students in a medical course – remember we’re talking bachelor’s degrees, here, folks. Nurses, wannabe doctors, that sort of thing. One of the classes was a sort-of practicum – for those confused, that means on-the-job training without a paycheck. Anyway, they spent an hour to a week at various medically related tasks. Now, either the coordinator for this was one of those “must do ALL field” types, or a bit of sadist, or maybe both. Regardless, one of the tasks was to watch an autopsy.
This class caused a lot of people to change majors. Go figure. Anyway…
Now, I didn’t know what was on the schedule. I’d pick up the three no-vehicle fellow students and take them to class, sit around in the class if I could, in a lobby if not, and take them back so I could get to my class. One last touch, and we’re ready. That touch – I tended to grab my lunch on this trip, and eat it at the destination.
My passengers didn’t tell me this day’s destination. Oh, “The hospital” was regular enough, but… autopsy.
So, I get in the upper level, out of the way of the class, open my bag, take my first bite, and the doctor starts with the cutting and such. And no, you’re wrong. See, I’m blessed with what is probably best described as a stainless steal stomach. I can eat in pretty much any conditions if I’m hungry, and if I _AM_ hungry things don’t tend to shut it down. Case in point, I’m doing quite well, though a couple of students on the back row who have turned to see me have fled with hands over mouths. It may have been what I was eating, but since there were OTHER students who couldn’t see me, it may have just been the cutting – the sight, the sound, the smell. No, the room didn’t clear till the doctor looked up and called, loudly, “Is someone eating hamburgers up there?”
gulp. “Yes sir.”
“Do you have any fries?”
“May I have some?”
heh – I’ve an evil mind. “Sure,” I say, and carry my bag down. The doctor grabs some – and a napkin – and heads back to the table. And, after yet another cut, eats some.
Frankly, the dipping plus comment, “hmm, was that ketchup or…? Oh, well” was overkill. The first bite cleared the room of all but two of the students who were supposed to get grades.
Twice, I said. I am an insensitive asshole. I’m a LOT better than I was, and I thought I’d tell on myself as to how bad I used to be.
Almost 20 years ago now I married a woman who is a better person than I’ll ever be. As it happens we have the same birthday, though she is younger than me by a few years. As a digression, no, this is not cute. Oh, it is the first couple of times, but how do you throw a party for her without it seeming you’re doing it for yourself as well? But as I said, I digress. I return to our first year of marriage, our mutual birthday some 8 months into the life. We agree, being VERY tight with funds, not to give each other gifts. We’ll just go somewhere nice – well, as limited by our finances – and go from there. Oh, yes – we get to dinner and she gives me a birthday card. Oops, didn’t think to get one. sigh. But I’m not done flagellating myself yet.
We finish a very nice dinner courtesy of the fact that so many restaurants then used to give free or major discount meals on birthdays, and decide to stroll through the mall. And we pass a bookstore. We were, ARE, both bibliophiles. And for that matter, both recent recipients of our Masters degrees in Library Science. So, of course, I decide to duck in. And spot JUST THE THING. “AHA,” goes I, “I MUST get this book.”
“So,” goes my lovely wife, “what did you get?” Smugly, I hand the bag to her. And demonstrate…
“It’s the next book of that series I’ve been trying to complete. Finally, I’ve got the whole thing.”
I did not get The Lecture until we got home. It was loud. It was long. And looking back, it was far less than I deserved.
I was a selfish, insensitive… no, scratch was. I AM still such. I’m just better — all I have to do is recall this (with much wincing these days) to know that.