Friday, September 09, 2005

When Calvino Makes Housecalls

My co-worker pads quietly up to me as I stand in the building's atrium staring at the ceiling four floors away. A minute passes.

John: Whatcha doin'?
Tata: There is no 'up' and no 'down.' There is only that direction or that other direction, more or less in any direction you can point, from wherever you are.
John: You know how when Hilda mentions The O.C. you get a headache?
Tata: Yup.
John: We must never again discuss calculus. Or numbers. Of any kind.

John's being dramatic because I insist he's imaginary and tell our other co-workers I made him up.

Tata: Don't talk to him! He's not real and you're just encouraging him! Stop pretending you see a person there!

You might be surprised how often this does not result in a straitjacket makeover. It should therefore come as no surprise that yesterday I said the following words to a complete stranger with a degree in medicine.

Tata: Wrists move in a variety of handy directions but mine stubbornly refuses. When I put weight on it it sends messages to my brain like, "Commence weeping."
Tata: I think the mystery bruise and lump two inches away may be related to general spazziness and not to the malady of the wrist.
Doctor: Did you hit your hand? Lift something heavy? Did you maybe sleep on it wrong?
Tata: If I were sleeping how would I know?
Doctor: Wait a minute. How do you put weight on your wrist?
Tata: I'm upside down a lot.
Tata: This is putting a real crimp in my plans for tonight.

I maintain that talking to me didn't injure the poor young woman in any permanent way and perhaps made her aware for the first time of Upside Down-Americans like myself. We may be a minority but with children starting gymnastics now as early as two years of age, our numbers are growing. And this doctor needed to know! She ordered Xrays and wrote a prescription for some painkilling anti-inflammatory potion. I don't usually take those, you know, without vodka.

New Brunswick is currently filled to capacity with college students. Last week, the freshmen arrived first, anxious to walk ten steps ahead of their parents, Polyester Ed and Edna. And as a townie, you thank Christ they're on the sidewalk because when you see them in traffic, one of them is pointing in horror at the ethnic populations and the other one is staring at the various construction cranes swinging overhead and neither of them has an eye on the road. It's a miracle Lewis Street isn't one giant, smoking ruin. A friend once said that the influx of terrified hicks was an opportunity.

Friend: So if the state budget is in crisis, let's wait until November. All the tuition checks would have cleared by then, right?
Tata: ...right...
Friend: Okay, then. Encourage freshmen to bring their cars and make all the lights in town green until December 1st.
Tata: Do you...smell sulphur?

This is my way of saying the visit to the radiologist would be the stuff of traffic planning legend at any other time and/or in any other place because every third building downtown is named University [insert scary field of medical test HERE] and I went to the wrong one before rushing madly in the opposite direction. If not for double-parked Pennsylvania drivers, I might've been ten minutes early.

When I said I had $8.22 in my bank account, I was telling the truth. Today's payday so Siobhan and I spent the day with colorful thought-balloons over our completely employed heads. I stopped people as they walked past my cubicle and demanded impressions of paint chips.

Tata: Ya huh mmm ya huh oo ya huh no ya huh?
Boss of Similar Ethnic Extraction: If your kitchen is Tuscany, yes!

I have to finish painting the apartment this weekend so the fumes can make like the breeze and blow before we move in. Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, has Feline Leukemia and must be protected from strong chemical smells that some veterinarians believe harm kitty livers. Though I have no actual information about this myself, I trick the cat into taking medicine every day so I might as well give the apartment a few days to freshen up, oui?

We're going to Home Depot. I have a coupon. This weekend, Siobhan, my dislocated wrist and I will tear up one side of the apartment and down the other. Will I weep for joy? Will I merely weep?


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