16 October 2009

Pseudomona and the Old Gang

Today I went to see Dr. Jennifer. It looks like I'm going to be off my bike for another couple of weeks.

The ray of sunshine--if you'll indulge me in a completely inappropriate metaphor--is that we're supposed to have a Nor'easter this weekend. Charlie and Max will be happy about that: I'll be indoors and they can climb all over me to their hearts' content.

I don't see how anybody could have one of those guys cuddled up against them and still hate cats. In fact, I don't understand how people hate cats. After all, every one I've ever had has been friendly, sweet, polite and cute. Maybe I just have good cat karma or something.

Anyway, Charlie and Max have pseudomona to thank for keeping me home. Pseudomona: It sounds like a Greek play about someone pretending to be Othello's wife. Of course, such a play wouldn't be possible, as the ancient Greeks were writing plays about a milennia and a half before Othello was born.

If you ever read Othello and need something pithy to say in a class discussion, use this: Quoth Iago/ Lusty Moor. It'll bring a smile to even the most jaded teacher or professor.

Now, pseudomona isn't causing me any discomfort. But Dr. Jennifer says it could keep the last part of my healing from happening the way it should. And, when you've waited as long as I have for the operation, you don't want to mess it up.

Plus, given that I've done about 30 years of serious riding, missing another couple of weeks isn't so great in the scheme of things. But it's still a pain in the rear. At least it's not a pain in...all right, you get the picture!

After my appointment with Dr. Jennifer, I walked through Chelsea and the Village to Soho, where I met Bruce for lunch. He looked as un-well as he sounded over the phone. That, of course, made me want to make chicken soup for him. Since we had neither the time nor facilities for that, and Bruce, understandably, didn't want to trek very far, we had what might've been the third- or fourth-best option: miso soup at a Japanese eatery a couple of blocks from his office. (Chinese hot and sour soup is usually my next-favorite option for medicinal purposes.)

My chicken soup-making impulse was piqued by seeing Bruce in a rather "down" mood. Of course, having what might be a low-grade flu doesn't help his mood, which doesn't help him to feel physically better. He must have some Puritan background somewhere along the way: When he's unproductive, as he says he's been, he's unhappy. But what else could he or anyone be when unwell? Besides, he can make me seem like a slouch sometimes, so he needs to let up on himself, at least for a while. As if I haven't told him things like that before...

I know I'm talking about a friend: In typing the last sentence of the previous paragraph, I smiled a bit. We've known each other for 30 years, or close to it, and he's always been a bit of a workaholic and his own worst critic. I doubt he'll change in those ways. The only reason I'd want him to change is for his own mental (and possibly physical) health. But, otherwise, there isn't a thing I'd change about him.

After our lunch, I stopped in Bicycle Habitat, a couple of blocks from Bruce's office. Just what I needed to do, right? I made my first post-op visit there last week, when I saw Hal, the dreadlocked mechanic/musician who just bought a house in the Brooklyn neighborhood where he grew up. But nobody he grew up with is there now. Anyway, I couldn't help but to notice that he seemed to have aged a bit in the three or four months since I'd previously seen him. We didn't get to talk for very long, but I had the sense that something else is going on in his life.

And I saw Sheldon, whom I bumped into back in May, I think, for the first time in a decade or close to it. He's an old riding buddy and was a mechanic in a shop I used to frequent in the neighborhood in which he lived. It's funny: He was dating Danielle, and all of the other guys in our posse were in committed relationships with women. And I was with Tammy. He married Danielle; those other guys married the women they were with in those days. Or, at least, they're still with those women. I am the only one from that "gang" who's not with his or her flame from that time. What can I say?: Each of them got the girl, and I became the girl. Or, more accurately, I was the girl all along.

He told me that Ray, one of our group, was still with Kyra. She and I rode together and had coffee (and nothing more than that!) a few times before she met Ray, which was around the same time I met Tammy.

The last time I talked to Ray was a couple of weeks after 9/11. He'd called in the middle of the night, practically in tears. He'd worked on the site, voluntarily: His skills as a plumber and metalworker were very useful in sorting through the debris of that place. However, his physical courage--which, at times, bordered on machismo--was chipped away by some of the things he found, which included body parts.

I told him to get away from that site right away. He'd been there night and day for two weeks straight; nobody had any right to ask any more of him, I said. He insisted that he couldn't "abandon" the people, whether or not they were living. If I'd had more presence of mind, I'd've told him not to abandon himself, or his own health, at any rate. Instead, I told him to get out of there and "come to my place, if you want to." Tammy, much to her credit, favored that.

But I never heard from him again. And the old gang went our separate ways. A while back, I found myself thinking about him and wondering whether he was OK--or even alive. After all, who knows what he inhaled during those days and nights among the still-smoldering wreckage.

At least I know he's OK, at least after some fashion: Sheldon offered to give him and Kyra my phone number and e-mail address. If they call, it could be very interesting, to say the least!

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