Friday, May 11, 2012

Body Language

I'm sitting there in a hospital gown, waiting for my doctor to complete my yearly physical.  This is when I look at everything on the walls, read the medical posters, the instructions on any equipment in the room, look in every corner and behind every chair.  I study the paper on the examination table, laugh out loud at the picture of a smiling child holding a bouquet of broccoli, and the note the placement of the computer in the room.
Finally, wondering if the gown I'm wearing is on correctly, I focus on myself.  At this point in my life I'm fairly comfortable in a doctor's office.  But it always seems to take so long when waiting for the doc to enter.  So I fidget.  Then I begin a tour of myself.  Scars are tattoos.  I look at the one on my knee and see myself at 12.  Whittling a piece of wood with my Boy Scout jack knife.  The blade slips and I cut a crescent slash through my jeans and into my flesh for life.  50 years later I see the moment.  I'm worried more about the hole in my pants than the one in my leg.  It all heals.  I find the inch long butter-colored line on my right elbow and thing of the beautiful Morgan horse who tried to steal a carrot out of my back pocket.  He'd already got the one intended for him and I was saving this one for a real old timer in the same pasture.  Unthinking, I bonked him on the nose in an effort to dissuade him from taking what was not intended for him, and he bonked back with his head pitching me into a barbed wire fence and then into an emergency room for a bandage and a tetinus shot.  I forfeited my chance to ride the big horse one more time with that bit of stupidity.
On my left forearm are the white dots that take me back to the Houston ghetto in the summer of 1969.  As a young VISTA Volunteer, with no mosquito repellent, I retain these badges of survival proudly.  A real watershed year and one that has shaped and informed much of my thinking throughout this lifetime.  My excursion ends with the rectangular blemish still visible on my bicep.  The scar left by a toothmark when I worked with emotionally disturbed children.  Leonard was a 12 year old Latino/Native American who looked like he could be the son of Geronimo himself.  Clearly one of the most angry human beings I've ever encountered.  In his violent outbreaks, he'd often bite those attempting to help him.  I wear another scar from an encounter with his outrage that is buried deep on the inside of my lower lip.  That one came from the end of his fist.  Some job for a conscientious objector to war.
Still no doctor, so I look at both the English and the Spanish versions of charts displaying the 10 levels of pain.  Going from barely feeling any to being just about immobile, I notice how the Spanish adjectives are fascinating and somewhat more descriptive.  Things seem to sound better in another language on occasion.
"Knock knock...Are you ready," my doc enters, smiles and sits by the computer.  I begin to answer her questions and we agree all my numbers have improved.
What do other people do when waiting?

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