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Election Special; Broken in the Move; Weight and See; Handy Man; Oops; Household Help; Is Everybody Having It?

Election Special

By the time you read this we may have a new president.

No promises, but wasn’t this election special? Particularly if you live in Florida. Political cartoons have already fired the first shots against the reading ability of voters there, and, more important, against what could be a vote-collection system rooted in 1910 technology.

"What is the Electoral College?" Jill has asked. I’ve told her I don’t know. But I did once study the Constitution with all attention appropriate to high school, and as best I remember it was intended as an additional layer added to our electoral process to keep the voice of the rabble to a murmur. And I think once in our history a president won the White House without winning the popular vote. Cleveland, I think. Most people who voted this year for Gore, Bush, or for some non-Gore candidate probably don’t realize we had a president named Cleveland. I guess I dimly knew that such wranglings as this year’s could happen, just like two teams in the same pro football conference could conceivably have to play a tie-breaking game before you could start the playoffs.

People seem upset, starting with the candidates. They’ve reportedly placed phone calls to each other that were more appropriate for feuding cheerleaders than potential leaders of the free world. Then people took to the streets in Florida, where 19,000 votes seem to have been either goofs or mistakes. Now people in the upper levels of government are saying more states may have made goofs, except Oregon, where ballots are cast through the mail. Nothing ever gets lost in the mail.

People are in the streets in Florida. Republicans say our nation’s leaders shouldn’t be down there "stirring up emotions." Democrats say those leaders are simply helping give voice -- and more than a murmur -- to a distrust of the system.

If my mother were alive she would say, "You can’t trust any of ’em," referring to the candidates. Her last vote went to FDR. Jill’s mom is unhappy over how many women voted for Bush. Jill says she hopes Ralph Nader is happy. Bush is acting like he knows something he isn’t saying. Gore is trying to live down that campaign button that said, "Nixon in 2000! He isn’t as stiff as Gore!" Alex was too busy to vote, which is abominable because with all those levers he’d have gone bananas in a voting booth. His vote also could have been as well directed as many in Florida.

Watching the demonstrations the other night, I was excited. I grew up in the post-Watergate apathy, coming of age as the landslide of 1972 -- which tarred one hero of my home state, Sen. Edmund Muskie -- gave way in a few months to a president sweating for his life on national television. To watch Nixon and Agnew plummet was a different view of our process, one that left a what’s-the-use aftertaste in voters’ mouths for most of a decade. I remember when record-low turnouts of voters had faith in the process, when most of the country thought you couldn’t trust any of ’em.

I didn’t vote in 1980. "What’s it matter, really?" a friend said. "If you don’t vote you should be shot," a professor of mine said -- ensuring that when I did vote it wouldn’t be for him -- but you could see the uninterested cloud on the faces of the 18-year-old virgin voters in that Freshman comp class. In the elections since, I have voted for two winners (both of them Bill Clinton) and two losers. I don’t yet know which category my guy will fall into this year, but it’s beginning not to matter as much as the process.

I‘m glad to see the process work. This may be a mess, but an exciting mess. Somewhere there’s a 13-year-old watching this on television and thinking, "I had no idea politics was so cool," and maybe the little part of their brain that thinks about an eventual career is entertaining new possibilities. And I was also taught in high school that new possibilities are what elections are about. (November 2000)

Broken in the Move

Some epics are too big for one story. The Iliad works, as many would agree. Shakespeare took a number of plays to tell history. I hear that Proust's Remembrance of Things Past was many books, none of which I've read. Maybe that's because I've been too busy moving.

God I hate cardboard. Especially boxes. Wardrobe boxes, dish barrels, book boxes, liquor store cartons, toilet paper cartons, baby formula boxes from the drug store. Collecting them began weeks ago with stops at the wine store and the pharmacy, then I'd grip the lids in aching fingers and troop down the sidewalk into the obligatory gale wind, and finally deposit them in the back of our kitchen in a heap that grew with my sense of a job being well done.

I didn't know what a heap was. By the time Tuesday, November 21, was over, our stuff was in cardboard mounds throughout our new apartment. The move was over, the unpacking had to begin, and somewhere in the back of the mind and in the bottom of a box was the notion that I had intended to do a great essay about this!

Here is that essay, or fragments of it:

-- First it was building boxes: two flaps down, two more flaps down, then a screech of packing tape. Then it was filling boxes, watching the tan disappear under our stuff. Then four more flaps down, another screech of tape, and another cube on the mound.

-- As late as the morning of Monday, November 20, I had convinced myself we had enough boxes. That lasted until a panicked call to the moving company brought four veterans of the Israeli army into our home headed by a self-assured and kind man named Noam.

"Okay," Noam said about 5:30 that night, "I look around and see can do this, but it will be lot of work."

Then they marched through with a rain forest of flattened boxes that swiftly assumed three dimensions and into which our lives vanished. Next morning they came again, more boxes, more vanishing, while I ran around trying to find where I'd packed the car keys. "You packed your car keys?" Aunt Julie marveled. "Hey Rob!" she said to her husband, "they packed their car keys!"

-- When we arrive at the new apartment, it's pinching up against the cutoff - 4 p.m. - for our reserving an elevator in our new building. Jill and I head to the basement to scout out the super. He's a prince on this miserable day, willing to extend the deadline. I'll remember him and his crew at Christmas, if I remember anything from this day.

-- The contractor has not cleared out on time. Tools and paint cans litter our new living room, the electrician is running around the kitchen, and heavy protective paper is taped to the most of the floor. They have taken down drapes and not put them back up. Dust covers everything. I phone Jill - getting the phones to work has been another saga - and tell her I don't think Alex can spend the night here. First night, all this way, all this struggle, and we're all headed for Aunt Julie's guestroom. Thank god her door is open.

-- I've never had a move as rough on my hands. Paper cuts on the right thumb and left index finger. A scrape on the knuckle of the left ring finger. I grabbed a kitchen box to move it on Saturday - a routine grab, a routine kitchen box of crap - and got a quarter-inch slice up my thumb.

-- Alex sits in his stroller at grandma's. He's been at grandma's all moving day. "I think he misses his crib," says the babysitter when I phone her in the early evening. I chew beef stew that evening and watch him playing with a suddenly-favorite musical toy. He flips it over and over, and presses the buttons that play "Rock-a-bye Baby" or "The Yellow Rose of Texas." The beef goes around and around on my tongue, I think how my late mother will never seem him, how I really have no home now, and for a minute I cry.

-- Cardboard in our new building must be not only flattened but also bound up with string. You cannot, if you're curious, pull string tight and tie a knot with work gloves on. Nothing is as cantankerous as a flap of cardboard. It's like trying to secure the wing of a bird.

-- Within the first week, we light the oven for the first time. The range is new, stainless steel, fresh from the factory. A few seconds into the heating, something flames up in bottom of the oven. Visions of Alex's oxygen tank exploding drive out all my memory of where in hell the fire extinguisher is. We get the fire out, however, and a few minutes later pry from the bottom of the oven, hidden under the heat rack, a twisted bottle of stainless steel cleaner. This kicks off a few bad days, during which foyer light goes out, the brackets to mount the venetian blinds disappear, and Alex develops a terrible cold.

-- Sunday noon after the move, Jill and head back to the Queens apartment for the last clean up. It's breathtaking what was left. Piles of packing paper, broken baby toys and shattered cassette tapes, a bottle of balsamic vinegar, one of Jill's favorite sugar bowls. We sweep and spackle as the windows grow gray with the coming early winter night. "Well Jill," I tell her, "you found a great apartment here. It's certainly not your fault that it turned out to be so sad." When we haul out the last crate, we break the sugar bowl.

I'll complete this essay when I find the rest of it in the bottom of the some box. (December 2000)

Weight and See

I’ve always been slender. My whole family is slender. After downing two helpings of the lasagna that my slender mother had worked on all afternoon, my slender brother and I used to sit in the recliners and joke, “Wouldn’t a couple of BLTs go down good right now?” It took two people to lift my mother’s lasagna out of the oven. My mother cranked out stews, steaks, pies, cakes, and cookies and never worried about her waistline and never had to. She claimed this was because she never shied from such work as shoveling the steps before it stopped snowing, doing the floors on her hands and knees, or flattening the pie crust with a rolling pin and her thin, iron arms.

Accustomed to hard work and slenderness, I have downed my share of Fritos, ice cream bars, fried clam boats and Chef Boy-Ardee pizzas, but I still stayed slender into adulthood. In college I had what one friend called “the Spock build”: without Kirk’s shoulders but with never a threat of his paunch, either. I leveled out at about 175 pounds. That was 17 years ago.

“I’m gonna get some Mallomars,” I said to Jill after dinner tonight. Dinner was pizza. Half an hour later I asked her, “Wouldn’t some French Silk ice cream go down good right now?”

Jill says I have no portion control. I’ll eat five of the eight pieces of pizza if she’ll let me. I eat dinner and a bowl of Raisin Bran for dessert, then maybe a cookie or two. I like dessert directly after dinner. “Let the food hit your brain first,” Jill says.

I don’t know how I’ve stayed around 175 all these years. Gyms scare me. I tried regimented swimming once, but got sick on the chlorine and lost my lunch (fried clam boat). Usually I lose weight through self-depravation. In 1986, for instance, I got in with a bad crowd -- would-be publishers -- and between the skipped meals and the three hours of sleep a night I soon looked way below slender. Then about 10 years ago, every Friday after work I used to start walking at 5 p.m. and stop when I got on the subway at 11:30. I also lose weight almost every summer when the heat drives me to limit lunch to fruit juice for days on end. One summer I lost 18 pounds when depressed, and when I told that to a woman co-worker I thought she was going to slash my throat with a jagged potato chip.

My weight stayed constant through Alex’s hospitalization, but this was probably due to the ice cream bars from the vending machine. Plus agony.

My only workout is and always was walking. I haven’t had much chance to walk in almost seven years, though, and I guess all that Raisin Bran catches up to me quicker. Six weeks ago, I was getting undressed for bed when Jill -- who was then seven months pregnant, and who has guarded her weight from me like a missile secret -- glanced at my midsection and said, “Hey, a sympathy belly!”

A few weeks later I got on the doctor’s scale with Alex. Together we weighed 213. Wow, look at all the weight he’d gained! Well no, because I stepped back on and rang the bell at 180. Well, 185. Okay, 190. Most of it sympathy belly. Still. One-ninety. Some people who need to lose weight weigh 190. Guys who are almost 40 (“almost” is a key word when placed before an age ending in 0) and who can hunch their back, lower their chin, and laugh like Jabba the Hutt need some new kind of workout.

I got one: our recent move, a nightmare of missed meals, toting that bale, taping that cardboard, and watching your life and the life of your vanish into a truck. But the result: I stepped on the scale the other night and rang in back at 178.

“Have you lost weight?” Jill asked me today. “You look thin. Turn that way. Yeah, you look thinner.”

So my master exercise plan works. Eat all you want for all your life, then every few years go through an emotional and physical upheaval. That’s how you keep a waist worthy of the Stimpson name. That’s how you avoid a middle-aged spread before middle age. (December 2000)

Handy Man

“If women don’t find ya handsome, they should at least find you handy.” -- “The Red Green Show.”

Jill is on the phone describing the conundrum of hanging the full-length mirror: “Well, I need my mirror hung up,” I hear her say, “which my husband just can’t seem to do.”

Jill has wanted this mirror hung for years, in three different apartments, but it’s a bitch. The thing is four feet tall, from Ikea, and it “hangs” on four screw-in brackets. I tackled it once in Baltimore. I couldn’t get the brackets aligned with the corners of the mirror. Since then the project has been regulated to the Find A Handyman To Do This Stuff Then Our Lives Will Be Perfect list.

Another item on this list is bookcases. We’ve been shopping for bookcases for two weeks. We need 72 inches’ worth, so we’re probably talking three units each 24 inches wide. We have found, however, that all current bookcase models (bookcases come in models?) were assembled in Brazil. Brazilians, it seems, put a lip on the top of all of this year’s bookcases. Try to line up three in a row and you’ll wind up with gaps like Letterman’s teeth.

It would take five to six weeks to custom build a 72-inch-wide case, the clerk tells us in the unfinished furniture store. “Unless you’re handy,” he adds, looking at me. “If you’re handy, you can just trim the lip off the top. Are you handy?”

“No, I’m not handy,” I replied, speaking over the top of Edwin’s scalp as he snoozed on my chest in the Bjorn sling. “No, I’m not handy. That’s why I’m shopping for cases rather than building them myself.” My back ached.

I’m not handy. I did put curtains up in Alex’s room a year ago, using a neighbor’s borrowed cordless drill and a lot of care as I went into the ancient plaster. For that three-hour job I drew upon old dexterity used in years of building plastic models (tanks, planes, ships, and soldiers. no cars). Somehow, the curtains stayed up. My other recent handiness includes fixing two units of halogen track lighting (one still doesn’t work), and pouring a bottle of dry gas into our car (I forgot the funnel and had to throw half the dry gas away). Oh, and I swept the kitchen.

We have a new apartment, which of course necessitates a variety of handy jobs involving picture hangers, child-proof locks, and that box of assorted screws we bought at Ikea five years ago. But we needed a handyman, and at first we used our contractor’s. He whipped out his stuff -- Alex was spellbound by his drill bits -- and fairly slapped up the new curtains and the first set of childproof locks. He seized out kitchen phone, which we’d kept tucked away in a cabinet, clicked something on the wall holder and said, “There. Hangs like that.”

So it did. “Hey!” Jill said, turning to me.

I am not handy. My paternity leave I’ve frittered away flattening cardboard and re-arranging the couch like some muscular girl. I should have spent this precious time getting to know my drill, making holes where they could move my life forward, and twisting screws home to stay. My father-in-law Bernie seemed to understand this need, and lent me his drill. For the holidays, in what must have been a fit of optimism regarding my character, he bought me a Craftsman cordless drill. I haven’t opened it yet, and the childproof locks sit in our kitchen drawer awaiting their chance to consume my time.

They can do it, too. They’re latches to screw into a cabinet and keep the doors from opening. They’re plastic and small, and they look like something I used to glue onto a wing or a turret. But they aren’t my friends: “Align lock plate and lock prong so that prong catches in the hook in plate when drawer closes. Mark spot to drill holes for plate and prong base in cabinet frame and door. Take your new Craftsman cordless and drill the holes. Attach parts to door (screws provided). Be sure to keep toxic and dangerous substances out of reach of your baby.”

I will. Nothing to it. Then the mirror. Then return Bernie’s drill. (January 2001)

Oops

I’m not sure what happened, but somehow I wound up clumsy.

I’m not sure what happened with the olive oil this morning, either. It was sitting in the pantry minding its own business when in I stumbled, even before my coffee, and started pawing for Alex’s Cheerios. Something nudged something else, and I can still see the bottle of oil -- brand-new, a foot high, $8 -- bowing forward out of the pantry rack and beginning its high dive. I got a finger on the bottle, deflecting it into Alex’s graham crackers. It bounced off there and trembled, teasing me, on the nest of instant breakfasts, pasta, and Gladware. There it hung for a moment, two inches off our unforgiving terra-cotta floor. Then it fell and burst.

Chunks of glass swam in the spreading pool. My breath caught in my chest and I yelled.

Jill came. “I broke the olive oil!” I yelled at her as she stood three feet away. Not many people know this, but when I get deeply upset my voice gets thick and heavy, and there is no goodness in the world anywhere. My mother used to get upset like that, usually over a car stuck in the snowy driveway. I used to think she was over-reacting.

Jesus Jesus Jesus! Get all the glass, I panted to myself. Get all the goddamn glass. Alex walks around out here!

Ever spilled oil? I sopped at it with paper towels, turning two full rolls into a slick, pale green mess. I stuffed them into garbage bags, but the broken glass sliced open the bags from the inside and spread the mess still further.

Jill loves her olive oil. She’s proud of her olive oil...

There were layers to this mishap beyond the one that seeped under the refrigerator. First, I’ve always been impatient with clumsy people. Second, our worst spill before this was probably paint. We’d left a small open can on a windowsill on a summer night. I’d put the fan in the window without realizing the can was open. Overnight it got windy. The fan blew in around 3 a.m., and I stumbled over and picked it up without turning on the light. When I returned to bed, I did feel something sticky on my pillowcase, but didn’t think much of it.

Next morning, paint. Tan, and cementing the dresser to the floor. Ever try to wipe up something that lives to be spread? Try to wipe up a spot of paint, and you wind up with ... more paint. Jill confirmed that she had “never in her life” spilled paint. Typical of that nightmarish apartment, we tried to forget the mess. We pried the dresser and the hard tan pool off the wooden floor when we moved. Only a dark stain about the size of crumbled plastic grocery bag remained. They haven’t returned our security deposit.

Now I have a splendid apartment with a splendid kitchen. The kitchen is narrow by the standards of most of America, but fresh with new Ikea cabinets and bright with new track lighting. One of the track units has burned out, however, and refuses to re-light despite all my fiddling atop the stepladder. Our kitchen also has a pretty tile floor. Maroon terra cotta, a mile classier than linoleum but pitiless to anything as fragile as bottles of olive oil or my state of mind.

“I broke the olive oil!”

Jill watched me sop and wipe and hyperventilate, and later she remarked that she’d never seen me so upset. “Two years ago last October, our son almost died,” she said, “and I’ve never seen you so upset. When I heard you yell, I thought the dishwasher or the stove had fallen over on you. I thought I’d be taking you to the emergency room.

“I was pissed at you, but it’s over and done with and I got over it,” she said that night. She was making cookies in the kitchen. She didn‘t drop anything. She never drops anything, not even a glass. I break about two glasses a month. (Get all the glass! What kind of father does stuff like this?!)

No emergency room. Not yet. But the floor is down there, waiting for my next foggy-headed morning or buttery finger. It’s hard to hate your kitchen floor and know that it hates you right back. (January 2001)

Household Help

I stepped into the kitchen and into a cold puddle. It seemed to be spreading from the base of the dishwasher, which I opened. In the bottom was about four inches of water.

“Jill, did you turn the dishwasher off last night after you started it?”

I repeated the question. No, she didn’t. Within a few hours I had fired calls all over upper Manhattan, looking for a repairman who could make house calls. Sixty bucks -- maybe more if it’s a plumbing problem. I tried to expose the drain in the floor of the dishwasher and got stopped at the second screw.

The manufacturer of the machine, which was still under warranty, said they could have somebody here in four days. “I have four inches of water in this thing now,” I said.

I can’t stand things wrong in my home. It makes me feel there is nowhere safe. I like going to bed after starting “the dishes” and hearing the machine whirr efficiently in the darkened kitchen. I started bailing with a Tupperware bowl.

“Look,” said Jill, “I suggest we just run it again.” That sounded like a plan to flood the apartment below us, but we tried it. The glasses got cleaned and all the water drained away. The machine has worked fine since, unless you count a week later when Jill came to bed and announced, “The kitchen floor is covered with water!”

She let her eyes hang on me for just a moment, the joke was up, and then she slid into the smile of one who gets along with appliances.

I don’t anymore, I guess.

I have fond memories of the appliances in my first house. We lived in the kind of house that in Maine is called an “ark” and that in the rest of the country is called “a big wreck.” My parents never bought appliances, for some reason stubbornly using to death machines that had come down from my father’s parents. Everything was bulbous white enamel. We had a serviceable stove, but the handle of the refrigerator was so dilapidated that we used a rope to open the door. The flagship appliance of my first household was a wringer washer. For those born after the Hoover Administration, this was a two-speed washtub and you fed the clothes into a hand-cranked wringer. It sounds primitive and it was. Then the wringer broke. But they were the machines of my childhood. They were fun to have around.

After my father died, my mother and I moved to a new house with new appliances. I have no memories of these. I was a teenager and young adult, the machines worked and that was that. When I moved to New York I was a long time getting any appliances to worry about.

Then one June night before Jill and I were married I was getting Cheerios in her Brooklyn kitchen when I heard a click from the direction of the freezer. Then silence. I marched into the living room and said, “Jill, the refrigerator just quit.”

A child -- even a bright dog -- could have figured out that the fridge motor had just cut out as part of its normal cycle. The same thing happened later in our Queens apartment. Twice.

“You and appliances,” Jill said.

Recently we moved into a renovated apartment with a shiny kitchen full of appliances that Jill picked out to do a number of household tasks. No busted wringers here, but a gleaming big microwave, a stainless steel fridge with in-door icemaker, and a stainless steel range worthy of the Enterprise that self-cleans itself in six hours. The first time we turned the oven on, however, we discovered that somebody had dropped a small bottle of stainless steel cleaner under the broil pan to rest next to the flame. And flames were the result, our new oven turning into a fireplace that panicky moment. Hardware store fire extinguishers are easy to operate when you’re convinced you’re going to burn to death and ruin Jill’s new kitchen, by the way.

Our microwave oven is also a convection oven, which means if I put in tinfoil -- who hasn’t dreamed of this? -- to cook on “convection” and I forget to press the button, I get a sharp blue spark and a pinhole in the inside of the oven. It’s cool but frightening. Likewise, I was drilling holes in the base of a cabinet over our fridge the other day, supposedly to install pan racks when the drill plunged all the way through the wood. I could envision was my putting a hole in the top of our freezer. It’s a shame to get older and stand amid new stainless steel, outwardly polite appliances and keep thinking you hear them mumbling.

“We should do oven cleaning tonight!” Jill said.

Not while I’m asleep, sister. (February 2001)

Is Everybody Having It?

I had measles when I was three, chicken pox when I was 6, and measles again when I was 15. As a child, I liked Nyquil because it knocked me out and Sucrets because they came in a cool little tin. Mostly, I was well, and I believed I was fated to remain so. Only old people wanted to see doctors.

You would have stayed well too, if you'd had my mother. When I was 16, for example, I got a deep sunburn over most of my body during a dimwitted fishing trip, and afterwards I couldn't even walk. My mother, who grew up in Depression-era Maine and who prescribed to the Blackjack Pershing School of Medical Care, treated my sunburn not with any of the popular and easy-to-apply aerosols, but by rubbing Noxzema into my back very hard.

Not to say she was unkind, not to say she withheld the pizza the instant I was well enough to tolerate it. It's just that she made every cold of mine feel unspectacular by announcing "Everybody's havin' it!"

My health turned a corner in 1997. I twisted wrong in a chair, and a few days later I couldn't stand. Sitting was also agony, as was bending over. (Coincidentally, Jill had surgery around that same time, and luckily got discharged in time to come home and make dinner and help me tie my shoes.) A year later the back problem returned, and I actually got a doctor. I saw him twice. He gave me pain pills and a referral to a back specialist, who didn't even examine me before pronouncing some number that designated a disk in my back.

Using a cool little model, he showed me how something resembling putty between the bones of my spine had been squeezed out of place until it was touching a nearby nerve. He gave me pain pills and sent me to a physical therapist. The PT gave me exercises to do while watching TV; fortunately, at that time we had HBO and I caught the end of "Larry Sanders" and the beginning of "The Sopranos" from sideways on the floor. Eventually the pain went away. Eventually.

I stayed more or less in one piece during Alex's hospitalization. That's kind of too bad: What difference would a few more insurance forms have made in that blizzard? And right up until this summer I was feeling, if not good, at least even. Jill had a lot of medical stuff -- I think the word "doctor" has been spoken around our household every day for the past four years -- but luckily Jill has a sharp impatience with her pain. She has developed an even sharper impatience with husbands who fool around with their own pain.

This year, on Memorial Day, I got a sore throat. First it just felt like my throat had hardened, as if after a belt of vodka. As the rasp deepened, I progressed through all the tricks of denial: it's the overnight air conditioning; dinner was just off tonight; I'm coming down with something minor; zinc tablets will knock this right out. I descended rung by rung, however, until at the end of a week my temp idled at 101 and my right tonsil had apparently been replaced with a grappling hook.

I turned to the Nyquil and to the contemporary version of Sucrets. My throat flamed. I turned to Advil, the neutron bomb of over-the-counter crap. Take one, the directions implored, and only take another if the pain does not get better. That dulled my throat for a day or so, but by the fifth day I knew something inside was doctor-worthy.

Consoled Jill, "I just don't know why you wait!"

I went to a walk-in joint near our home called "Docs Docs Docs." The doctor peeked in my throat. Amputate! I wanted to beg. He speared my throat with a long Q-tip to test for strep -- negative -- and returned in a minute with a prescription for an antibiotic. Within 24 hours, the flame in my throat had receded, and I finished the week's run of Bioxin believing that, more or less, my health was holding.

"Quacks quacks quacks," Jill warned.

Soon after, my throat got the vodka feeling again. This time my course of denial ("It's the air conditioning...") lasted 72 hours. The doctor gratified me with a pronouncement that I had a severe throat infection, and took a strep swab that came back "positive." He gave me huge new antibiotics. "Isn't it great forcing down horse pills when your throat's on fire?" a friend said.

"Why did you wait until Wednesday to go to the doctor?" Jill consoled.

I downed a pair of horse pills a day. They corroded the taste of food and coated the roof of my mouth with wax. I took them for 10 days. My strep came back on the 12th day, a Sunday. I headed to the doctor on Tuesday. (Jill: "Why did you wait until Tuesday?") The doctor concluded that I had a special strain of strep that resisted penicillin. This time he dispensed 14 Bioxin pills, and he wants to see me when they're gone.

I have a feeling that I'll want to see him, too. (September 2001)

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