I had suspected that my cancer-related patriarchy-blaming opportunities would be legion, and so far I have not been disappointed. For last Friday, in wild anticipation of tomorrow’s boob-loogey excision, the hospital invited me over for some pre-operative phun and phlebotomy.
The nurse who took charge of me had chosen Down-home Folksy Camp Counselor as her professional persona. "I’m Darla, it’s easy to spell if you spell it with a D, last name Ree-shard, but this is Texas so you’ll say ‘Richard’."
I deduced that, like Hyacinth Bucket, exoticism was important to Darla Ree-shard, so I thought I’d give her a gift. I said, "If this were France, I’d say Ri-shargh."
My frenchy gargling of her last name failed to delight. I was there to absorb what Darla Ree-shard called "the tricks of the trade," not to make impertinent allusions to France, the enemy of Texas.
"Why," she asked, tapping with her Bic pen one of the 753 forms I had filled out, "are you taking the Xanax?"
I revealed that after my doctor had called to tell me I had fucking CANCER, I’d experienced, for some reason, a wee anxiety attack. Darla Ree-shard, marshaling her considerable powers of nursely observation, scrutinized me closely. A true professional, she had me sized up in about two-and-a-half seconds:
I was deficient in the cancer-enthusiasm department.
"You know," said Darla Ree-shard, "one of our best doctors, Dr. Butt, he always says the patients with the best PMA live the longest!"
As I silently resolved to avoid this Butt character at all costs, my blank visage conveyed to Darla Ree-shard the sad but inexorable truth that I did not know what a PMA was.
"Positive Mental Attitude!" she announced, bestowing upon me one of the Secrets of the Ages. "Dr. Butt always says ya gotta wanna live to be 100. Ya gotta have that PMA!"
She leaned toward me. "So," she inveighed with considerable pep, teaching the PMA by example, "Do you wanna live to be 100!!"
"Well," I said, "I’d been shooting for 75 or 80, but now that I’ve got fucking cancer, I realize that the more realistic goal is clearly 100. Thanks a bundle, Darla Ree-shard!"