When I reconnect with someone from my youth, my first thought is “How cool. They’re still alive.”
This leads to a couple of questions:
One: Just how old do I think I am?
(Answer: Dead any moment now.)
Two: Is my reaction a glass half full or half empty?
(Answer: Half full because I’m happy these old friends are alive, but half empty because see question number one.)
I blame celebrities. If they’d stop dying, I might not think about my own mortality so much. I keep calling the still-alive ones to request that they live forever, but it usually results in restraining orders. Then they die. Probably to spite me.
I’ll just keep enjoying my life each day I’m here, working at home, hanging out with the cats, and listening to the newest certainly sane neighbor as he shouts helpful advice to all the “fuckin’ bitches” to “shut the fuck up.”
During my latest annual kidney cancer screening, I anxiously sit in the waiting room until the x-ray technician throws open the door and shouts, “Cindy Valleley, come on down!”
I jump up and down as I run toward him, my old-lady boobs alternately slapping my knees and face as Paul and I try to hug each other. The three of us race down the hall to the examination room and high-five people carrying blood samples, sometimes smashing the vials against their palms because we’re all just really glad to be on TV, win or lose.
When we enter the x-ray room, I get to play a game involving golf, math, and beating a clock. I’m not good at any of these things, but I try. When I lose, it doesn’t mean I have cancer for sure, so I still get to have the x-ray. I’m having a great time as I wave to Paul in the audience.
Then the tech pins my x-ray to a huge wheel. There are two giant sticky notes above and below the picture of my lungs. One says, “Cancer,” and the other one says, “Suck it, Cancer!”
I give the wheel a mighty spin and cross my fingers as I hear Paul shouting “No cancer, Sweetie!” As the wheel slows, I start to sweat, and just when I think I’m going to pass out from the excitement, it lands on “Suck it, Cancer!”
I can hardly believe my insurance pays for this. I’m grateful they do, and I’ll never tell them how enjoyable the experience is just in case they believe suffering is the only thing they should subsidize.
I’m already looking forward to next year’s CT scan. It’s so much fun to lie in the tube and rapid-fire punch the panic button when I get bored. The techs love it when I do that.
"I've always found paranoia to be a perfectly defensible position." – Susan Lowenstein, The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy