It was probably just an error of habit, a meaningless gaffe, when the CVS pharmacist asked, “How can I help you, sir?” But you won’t find me without my dangly floral earrings for the remainder of the summer. It’s just so wonderful to go out into the world without a matching hat, and I’ve grown so accustomed to it already, that until I get a double-take (or “sir”), I forget how shockingly modish I look. A lovely woman at the pool, ignorant of my life story, commended me for braving a little boy hairstyle. Bravery, indeed. Courage is my best accessory to a bathing suit and a half-inch of (colorless) hair.
This week is Birthday Week for Bernie and me. Because our 40th birthdays were last year, with their attendant big-time gifts, old friend reunions, (mammogram, biopsies, mastectomies, chemo), and whatnot, this year will be a bit more subdued. Here to celebrate our Yankee Doodle Bernie, A-Ma and A-Gong arrived at their typical late-night hour, toting the entire produce inventory from Flushing, NY and all of the chatty energy derived from six hours of green-tea infused travel. Hungry for dinner and news, I provided both as Bernie donned his professional pajamas and headed back into Boston for a patient with a small emergency. Awake at the wee hours with Asians rifling through my ‘fridge bursting with hairy fruits and bean curd… it’s like old times over here. But poor Bernie had to ring in the start of his 42nd year with a resident who probably hasn’t finished unpacking her UHaul, much less know where the operating room is located… or what to do there.
For anyone in the medical field, Independence Day is met with a bit of trepidation. Every Fourth, A-Ma recounts in startling detail her experience with this fateful holiday, as she delivered her first child into the hands of the most inexperienced staff of the year. An attending pediatrician borrowed Baby Bernie to demonstrate the proper examination of a newborn to green residents… without the permission of the new parents. A-Gong’s panicked, accented insistence that their child was missing from the nursery landed on unsympathetic ears, and they remember their scary search through the ward like it was yesterday. I cringe at the thought of their treatment in 1971 Texas, regardless of the holiday, and then because all ended well, kind of giggle at the idea of A-Ma in a backless gown screaming “Bernie!!!!” (r’s still a pronunciation challenge) through the halls of the hospital.
So you can imagine my horror at the news that Kensley (daughter of Zealot Sister) landed in the emergency room THIS of all mornings. Inexplicably, her dog repaid an indulgent belly rubbing session by biting her in the face. Sweet Kensley called me from her ER stretcher, stifling tears to ask me first of all things if I’m better. I assured her that I am, that stitches don’t hurt (but that lidocaine does), and that there will be an obscene amount of Aunt Britt-sponsored shopping after this ordeal. She will be fine, and remain my beautiful 11 year old niece, only now with a teeny, storied scar and her own tale of bravery in the hospital on the Fourth of July. Today my selfish prayers for faster hair growth to foil further gender misapprehensions are swapped for those that the resident on call knows what he’s doing. For unless it all goes swimmingly, there will be recrimination from both (Scary Aunt) Paige, as well as this Dude (Looks Like A Lady).