Monday, June 18, 2012

Body Parts

I was reminded the other day of one of those things that we think about from time to time and that is the importance of body parts.  While we all have been contemplating such things since we first noticed that the thing waving back and forth in our line of vision was actually a part of the whole, the hand, and that we could make it do pretty much whatever we pleased, people have noticed their body parts.  After getting acquainted with our own, most of us begin to compare ours with those of other folks in our acquaintance; and we notice some people's parts more than some others simply because they are well worth noticing.

I once had an allergic reaction to a pill I took.  The reaction came in the form of a hypoglycemic attack and didn't occur until I was sitting at my desk early one morning.  One of my co-workers noticed that I was looking decidedly ill and called 911.  The paramedics showed up promptly and got to work.  The one kneeling in front of me was listening to my racing heart and asking me questions.  All I could think of was that this was the most gorgeous face I had seen in my entire life with a perfectly shaped nose, black fringed baby blue eyes and a mouth like a ripe peach waiting to be tasted.  While I was sixty plus and he was probably half my age, I was thinking that if I weren't so busy dying at that moment, I would kiss the daylights out of the poor guy.  I think it is safe to say that we all notice the very good and maybe the very bad.  It is also a wonder that we are such diverse persons with such individualized tastes that there seems to be someone out there that is going to look mighty good to each other someone.

The other thing I wonder about is that each person seems to have a strong preference for some particular part to admire.  My dad was a leg man.  He once told me that a well-shaped ankle curving into a neatly rounded calf was a sight to stir the heart of any man.  Now days, lots of men seem to enjoy the going away view of women to the point that admiring the "junk in the trunk" has almost become a national past time.

My writers group got into this type of discussion on Saturday after critiquing a piece one of our members had written on all the changes that had been made to her original equipment, some of her own choosing and some chosen for her by circumstances.  She is a breast cancer survivor and has had a double mastectomy and reconstruction.  She doesn't recommend cancer, but she did have high praise for the boob job stating that it was much better than what God had given her as far as looks were concerned.  She was too old to care about function.  Several of the other women present also decried the idea that anyone could find boobs attractive since they were generally a burden to women requiring support that is awkward to put on and uncomfortable to wear. And the older one gets, the more grotesque the shape becomes unless a boob job has made them permanently perky.

My friend, Dennis, was sitting quietly beside me during the discussion; but I know Dennis well enough to know that his mental gears were whirling like crazy.  And crazy is exactly the word to use for most of Dennis' thoughts.  So, I leaned over and told him my own little boob story.  No, my boobs aren't little.   The story is.

Several years ago, I found a lump in my right breast.  Given my mother's early death due to cancer, I had always thought if the possibility ever came up, I would probably be found in the back of my closet, curled up in a fetal position and sucking my thumb.  Not so.  I was on the phone immediately getting the earliest appointment I could and got in to see my doctor in two days.  With the usual "It's probably nothing to worry about," he sent me off for a mammogram.  It was inconclusive.  On to the next step, a lumpectomy and biopsy.  For this, my doctor called in a young surgical specialist who was and is considered something of a genius.  Upon meeting him, I also realized that he was all business.  As Elizabeth Bennett said to Mr. Darcy, "That is a pity for I dearly love to laugh."  Over the next few days, I met with him several times.  No humor at all.

On the day of the surgery, I was draped and prepped for a local so that I would be awake when the report on the biopsy came back and would be able to discuss options at that point.  In came the surgeon dressed in his OR greens and with his usual serious scowl, looked down at the area he would soon be cutting on.  In an effort to lighten the mood while the nurses unrolled the instruments from their sterile casings, I asked the doctor, "So, who's the taxidermist on staff at this hospital?"

I was met with a startled and quizzical look as he came back with, "Taxidermist?!?"

I noticed that everyone else in the room was looking at me as if I had been given too much Demerol.  "Look," I said. "I need to know because while I a very certain that I can live without my boobs, I'm not sure my husband can."

While the nurses were practically rolling in the floor, Dr. Seriously Medical almost cracked a smile.  "It's OK to laugh," I told him.  "It's how we survive."  And the report came back cancer free.

Friday, June 1, 2012

For years, my sister and I have gone on yearly road trips to a predetermined destination just to see what is there. The secondary reason for these trips is to remind our overly complacent families of the work that we do in their behalf. We usually come home to expressions of great gratitude which last for a long time. They stay in line quite nicely until it becomes necessary to remind them again of what it is that we do for them. We love to go gallevanting about the countryside, enjoying the sights and the oddities that we come across either by design or serendipitously.

For a number of our most recent trips, I drove because I have a hybrid which gets great gas milage, and economy in one area means more money to spend in another. Since I had been doing most of the driving the last few years, I had forgotten what kind of driver my sister is. We are both notorious for our love of speed; or as my racing enthusiast husband says, our lead feet and singular disregard for the law. Speed doesn't bother me at all as long as I am the one speeding. However on or last trip, we took her new car, also a hybrid; and I had to confront the truth about her, myself and parts of our sibling relationship.

The first thing that became obvious to us is that I love control, not some of the time, all of the time. Since control is, intellectually speaking, an illusion, you can see that I was going to face some issues on this trip. My sister, on the other hand has a fatalist's approach to life in that she expressly lives as if whatever occurs is predetermined to occur so you might as well take the risk and die in some heart stopping( pardon the pun) exciting way. When a trip takes you through the Rocky Mountains on blue highways(our favorites), the opportunities for such an exciting demise increase dramatically. Add to that her almost gleeful enjoyment in seeing how fast she can exceed the posted limit on tight winding curves, and you can see why I became better acquainted with prayer as a bargining tool. I am sure that I have promised God far more that I can ever deliver just so he would get us back on a long straight stretch of highway. My glutes did profit from the ride as I used them to grip the seat as we flew around 20 MPH curves at, at least, twice that speed.

The other thing that I began to see was that my sister suffers from a serious case of road rage. She carries on a constant barrage of derogatory remarks on the eneptness of her fellow road warriors and seems to take their assinine choices as a personal affront or an attempt on her life. While she is perfectly o.k. with dying from her own risk taking, she is sure she will be truly ticked off if someone else takes her along on their own failed exploits. She calls total strangers names that imply that she has intimate knowledge of their chatacter, and she uses names that I know she would have never learned in the household in which we both grew up.

Another thing that I learned was that she does not use good judgment when it comes to dealing with people in traffic and assumes that those parties are going to act appropriately whether or not she does. I digress to tell you that my sister has inherited the Roberts vocal cords. Althought I am a Roberts, I seem to have inherited the Thibault gene for an almost too soft voice. She, on the other hand, has a voice which can be heard from one end of a football stadium to the other without the aid of a microphone even when she thinks she is speaking normally. When raises her voice, it is a phenomenally booming thing
that has been know to cause ear pain especially when heard insde the confines of a closed car. As we were returning to the United States after a day in British Columbia, we were caught up in the morass that is the American border crossing. For some reason, the three lanes approaching the crossing narrowed down to one lane just short of the gates where they spread out again to four lanes with a guard at each. The merging process was very slow but polite until we went from two down to the single lane. There the unwritten rule seemed to be that a car from each lane would go in turn. This was fine until it became our turn, and the car that should have given way surged forward causing us to have to swerve sharply to miss getting hit. Instead of waiting for the next opening, my sister pulled up beside the large offending SUV and yelled in her loudest voice, "Damn! Be Rude!!!" To my surprise, the driver slammed on his breaks and let us in. I was nursing my nearly ruptured eardrums and thinking that he was pulling in behind us so that he could get a better bead when he shot us for interfering with his progress. As you might imagine, I was huddled in the passenger seat, praying that he would realize that I had nothing to do with her attact. I finally got my thoughts together enough to ask, "What do you think you're doing? Are you trying to get us killed?"

Her reply, "It worked. He let us in. Besides, I didn't think he could hear me since the windows were rolled up."

"Lord, girl," I said. "They could hear you in Vancouver and that's 20 kilometers away." Notice that in less than 24 hours, I had begun to think metrically. Needless to say, we were happy to see armed guards just ahead who could protect us from assault if need be. The real kicker came as we were at the crossing gate answering those silly questions as if anyone would be honest. You know the one like, "Are you carrying any weapons?"

"Sure, here's my AK47 right here under my seat."

"Why are you coming into the United States?"

"Because we want to blow up some big buildings."

The SUV had been directed to the gate next to ours where I was sure he was going to report us as possible lunatics. Instead, we heard the guard say in a loud and incredulous voice, "What do you mean you don't have passports?"

So that poor boob was pulled over and read the riot act. For him, it had been a really bad day. He had just come from Vancouver where everything was twice the US price. He'd been verbally attacked for his bad manners, and now he was being interrogated as a possible terroist. At this point, he probably would have shot himself if he had a weapon; or of course, he might have been rattled enough to tell the guard that he had a gun or bomb or, God forbid, a collection of illegal conifers and fruit.

We, on the other hand, drove peacfully on our way. Will I go on another trip with her? As soon as I can, and my family irritates me enough to press the need.