Tuesday, August 17, 2010

D Day Minus 180 (September 10, 2009): Oz (Part 3): Click Your Heels

“Get a table with an umbrella, if you can.” I said loud enough so a lady in a tan suit with matching pumps turned her head. She was about my age, with BIG Houston hair, wearing enough perfume to give me a headache. You nodded and left me to the chaos of the four cashier lines in the Waterfall Café stacked up six people deep. It seemed like an eternity just to pay for the three vegetable platter special that was mostly potato wedges, your “dinner roll,” and my new vice a “BAD” – a big a**ed Diet Coke.

A couple of the really good potato wedges fell off my plate when I tried to break a twenty loose from my wallet. Some big hulking guy in scrubs wearing black Crocs, like I had at home, stepped on them before I could pick them up. I was glad he didn’t notice it was me. I was even more gladder the cafeteria patrol picked them up before the grandma with the royal blue velour leisure suit (complaining about how she didn’t think she could eat “that big of a sandwich”) slipped on them.

You waved me to a table that had a lot crumbs on it and a couple wadded napkins that reminded me of tumbleweeds at high noon-- just like on the old westerns Grandpa Wright always watches. Our table didn't have an umbrella.  All the other tables did, but not ours.

"This is all there is." You said, almost curling your lip like Elvis, in disgust.

When I sat down, you picked up the napkins by the tips of your thumb and index finger so you wouldn't catch any awful disease.  And left to go "find a bathroom to wash the crap off your hands."  I covered up the crumbs with my tray and tried not to watch a family, who had the awe struck, “we’re not in Kansas anymore look of Oz,” chew with their mouths opened. Oh, and I ate “your dinner roll” while you were gone because I felt bad that you still were fasting for your brain MRI.

When you came back, I thought I saw Dr. Patel, your Oncologist, but wasn't sure, since I didn't have my prescription glassess on. You'd just put your phone back in your shorts, so you didn't notice squat.   So I didn't ask.

“I’ve been getting texts all morning from friends at Wegmans and George Mason. Jeremy, who’s another manager from Wegmans. Julie both our boss. And Jessica who I went to school with. She’s the one who’s having a baby girl. Oh, and Morgan.” You said feeling the vibration of another incoming text. “They all were letting me know they were thinking of me.”

The sun peeked out from the clouds and made it really bright so I got out my favorite “successory,” the “professional grade sunglasses.” You kept at your texting, while I finished the last of my roasted potato wedges. I didn’t like the green beans so I filed that away under “never again.”

After I threw away my trash, I decided not to get out my zebra skinned netbook. Besides the wireless signal always sucked on the patio, and I didn’t feel like searching for my USB wireless card. You sat across from me resting your chin in the palm of your hand. And we both took turns trying not to yawn.

We had two more hours to kill.  And I didn’t think you wanted to do too much walking after your fun-filled barium enema infested CT fiesta this morning.

I sighed and said. “I hope we can get a room at the Rotary House next time. At least we could take a nap between appointments.”

“Yeah. That would be a good thing.” You said, shifting your chin to the other hand.  We sat there staring at each other, too tired to make a move. 

I wished Dad were here with me.  I wished Katie were here with you.  I wished you didn't have cancer.  I wished Houston wasn't so far away from Sterling.  I wished you could eat.  I wished I had ruby slippers.  I wished I were Dorothy from Oz. Then I'd click my heels, and  ..................................


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