Tag Archive | Cooking

To error is canine…to make excuses is human…

My human’s life isn’t complicated.  I’m sure the Geezer might disagree with me; you know how human’s are always whining.   He let’s the littlest things interfere with his life and my fun. Let me share a couple of examples with you.

Before he left on his tour, leaving me and Mrs. G here to boot for ourselves, he had one of those minor problems that he lets control his activities.  He bent over to pick up a spoon off of the floor.  When he straightened up, I’ve never heard so much wailing.  Not even my cat half-bro Oreo makes screams like that when he gets his tail caught under the rollers on a chair or in my teeth.  “Aaaaggggghhhhh!…Oh shit!  Not before my trip!” the old boy screamed.

I’m not swearing this is true, but I thought I heard Mrs. G asking him about doing a few chores before he left.  You should have seen him.  He was bent over from the waist, staring at the ground like he was hunting for fishing worms.  This guy should have won the Oscar for portrayal of an ambulance case.  Excuses, excuses.

In the off chance that the Geezer wasn’t acting, it just proves another thing we canines and most of the rest of the animal world knows…four legs are better than two.  We dogs don’t need chiropractors, surgeons, or Ben-Gay.  Guess what…there was no game of “get it” that day.   (That’s when a trained human throws a ball so we canines can get it.)

Another example happened today.  Mind you, this was his first day back.  I was raring to go for our walk. a walk I’d missed for 12 days.  The sun rose, but my human didn’t.  That’s very unusual.  He normally stumbles from his bed around 4:30 each morning, mumbles a string of unintelligible words and staggers to the coffee maker.  There he concocts the vile blackened water he’s so fond of drinking, something I’d say would be more fitting as a punishment than a daily high-point.

When he was still prone in his bed as the first rays of light illuminated his gray hair, I decided to get him moving.  A long stripe of fresh dog-slobber applied with my raspy tongue applied cheek to cheek awakens the dead.  Sure enough, the Geezer’s eyes opened a tiny bit.  He mumbled  something I didn’t understand and rolled over so his face was turned away from me.  The Geezer was going to be difficult.  I hopped up on the bed, stood over him and reapplied the slobber.  He repeated the response clear enough for me to understand this time.  He said, “I got jet-lag, let me sleep.”

Can you believe that!  He believes he got sick from riding in a jet plane.  I wonder what “jet bacteria” looks like under a microscope.  No amount of poking, licking or pawing could get him up to take me on my walk.  If excuses were money there isn’t a human that’s ever been born that wouldn’t be insanely rich.

http://www.dlhavlin.com

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Why are Dog Days…Dog Days? Do I smell a human? (Plus Hush Puppies)

Why do humans call those hot miserable days we’re experiencing now, dog days?  I’d really like to know.  It certainly isn’t because we canines enjoy the heat and humidity.  I’m sure some forms of animal life enjoy it.  Lizards, frogs, toads, and snakes?  That’s a guess.  I don’t know many frogs or toads and my command of the Lizarddi language leaves much to be desired.  I know some snakes… and I can converse with them well enough to know I don’t trust anything they say.  The only creature more deceitful is a umanas politicius.
Humans derived the name, but why?  Is it because we canines suffer this time of year?  Horses suffer as much.  So do cows, pigs, even cats.  My talks with Oreo, my feline half-brother, and Buddy, the horse that lives a couple blocks over, have confirmed it’s not because they like this summer roast.

Possibly, the name just sounds good.  “Lizard days of summer,” doesn’t have a lyrical lilt like “Dog days” does.  Neither does pig days, or toad days, or so on.
They could have called this time period, “miserable human days,” but this suggests they may have some slight responsibility for their own discomfort.  Humans loath taking responsibility for anything.  The “Blame Game” is their favorite past-time.  Don’t believe that?  If you can suffer through an evening of watching human TV news and advertisements during this political season you’ll know I’m telling you gospel.

If you think about it, humans use animals to describe all kinds of things they don’t like…”Good weather for ducks,” translates to more rain than they want… “Horse feathers (or shit)”, for lies they’re told… “Sneaky as a cat,” for anyone who manipulates them…”Bird brained”…referring to their low IQ associates… and my personal favorite, “Dumb as a dog,”…talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

Some humans are lovable, however.  Oreo and I have been helping entertain some of the Geezer’s human friends and children/grand- children over the last two weeks.  BO and Randy were first, followed by Big Den, Little Den and Natalia.  We weren’t home much…in fact the computer was off for thirteen days.

 

Me and Oreo taking it easy after entertaining

     To keep my promise to Randy and Bo, here’s the Geezer’s recipe for hush puppies I snuck out of his book.

The Geezer’s Light and Fluffy Hush Puppies.

Stuff you need to make them:
1 cup hush puppy mix – (Dixie Lily or Autry’s are fine)
1/2 cup self rising flour
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 eggs
1 tablespoon minced garlic  (powder will do in a pinch)
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
8 stuffed green olives finely chopped.
3/4 cup of water

What you do:
First- Place mix, flour, chopped onion, pepper, salt in a large mixing bowl and stir thoroughly.
Second- Add water, eggs (no shells please)…stir thoroughly…again.  If he batter is too “grainy,” add a splash or two of water.
Third- Add the chopped olives and garlic…guess what?  Stir thoroughly again!  Set batter aside for twenty minutes.
Fourth- Heat vegetable oil 1″ deep in a skillet, etc. to 350 degrees.  Use a tablespoon to measure and drop the batter into the grease.  Cook until golden on both sides.   Yummy!

www.dlhavlin-author.com

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July 14 – Parking Lot Lies

I have a broken heart. Romanski hasn’t called. He hasn’t written or even emailed me. I’ve been mopping around the house…waiting…hoping. If you missed my previous post, Romanski is a handsome Golden Retriever I met on my recent trip. I’ve been in such a funk it was noticeable to the Geezer. It usually takes an anvil to fall on him before he notices such things.

“Sandy, what’s wrong old girl?” he asked.

“Old girl, aren’t you calling the kettle black?” I retorted.

“My aren’t we touchy today. That’s just a term of endearment, Sandy. I’m not really saying you’re old.”

Humans have the weirdest way of communicating. “My friend,” certainly would have been a more appropriate way to address me. We females are sensitive about being called old. Homo sapiens have hundreds of ways of nibbling around the edges of what they want to communicate. In Doganese, Woof is Woof, Arf is Arf, and Grrrr is Grrrr. Why complicate matters? I started to lecture him on the value of concise clear conversation, but I didn’t have the patience to deal with human mental deficiency at the time. Besides, he’s been subjected to so much rhetoric from TV political ads and programs I’m sure his mind is warped and has contracted into a protective shell. One needs a bull-shit deflector to stand anywhere near a television that’s operating these days. I decided to give the old codger a break.

“I know you weren’t trying to offend me, Geezer. I’ve just been a bit upset and disappointed lately,” I said.

“Really? I’m sorry to hear that. I hope it’s nothing I’ve done.”

“No. It’s something you had nothing to do with.”

“Do you mind me asking what it is?”

“I really don’t want to talk about it,” I lied. I really did. It helps to chat about your emotional issues even if you have to do it with a human…male.

“You sure, Sandy? One of the only good things about getting old is that you’ve experienced enough to give good advice. I certainly qualify as old.” The Geezer was using his most fatherly tone.

“I don’t need advice as much as a shoulder to cry on.”

“Tell me about it.”

“Remember when we stopped at the Welcome Station in Tennessee? I met Romanski, remember him?”

“I’m so sorry.” The Geezer had that, ‘oh, that’s how it is,’ look he gets occasionally. I just plain don’t like that look. He noticed I wasn’t impressed and quickly changed his expression. “He hasn’t called?”

“No. Not a word from him in any way. He seemed so sincere when we strolled around the parking lot. He made so many promises. Anything I said I wanted from life, he did too. Romanski looked into my eyes and told me it was one of those one- in-a-thousand love-at-first-sight things. I believed him and poured my heart out to him. Now……..”

“Sandy, don’t feel bad. You’re not the first lady, or for that matter, man, that’s been led astray in a parking lot or just while parked.” The Geezer shook his head sadly. “Those are what I call Parking Lot Lies.”

“Well, at least I wasn’t the first person to be told what they wanted to hear so a scum-bag could try to get what he wanted.”

“You’re right.”

“Gosh, Geezer, Romanski reminds me of one of those politicians I hear you listening to on TV.”

“That’s exactly right, Sandy! They’re both trying to screw us!”

http://www.dlhavlin-author.com

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June 30 – Rome, Athens, Dublin, Cairo…It could go to a poor dog’s head!

     If you wondered why no scratchings the past few weeks…I’ve been traveling.  The Geezer decided he couldn’t be without my advice and counseling for three weeks, so I got to go on a combination book introduction tour and vacation.
     The places we went!  The things we saw!  Dublin!  Cairo!  Athens!  Rome!  And that was all before we left Georgia!  Well, we didn’t stop in all those places, we went through them.  Well, that isn’t exactly correct, we were close to them…..  Errrr, truthfully, we saw their names on road signs.
     Where we did go…and stop…was impressive to a canine like me.  There were the big places:  Atlanta, Chattanooga, Nashville, Louisville, Ann Arbor, Cincinnati, Lexington, Knoxville, Asheville, Columbia, Hilton Head, Savannah, Jacksonville and Gainesville.  And the little places: Elizabethtown, Coldwater, Ludington and Eatonton.  I’ve got some great stories about many of them.
     I met fascinating people like Lance, Edward, Sarah, Ranger Lee and the man in the art studio in Chattanooga.  Of course, we visited old friends and relatives:  D3, Natalia, Bo, Denny, Dorothy, Chet, Betty, Tom, Jim, Judy, Pete, Sandy ( a human version), Orson, Martha, and Jeanne and Bob.  I’ve got lots to tell about them.
    We visited Chickamauga the oldest military park in the US.  If we had stopped and bought just one bottle at all the wineries and distilleries we passed, the Geezer would have enough alcohol to last him until the year 2114.  (He’s not much of a drinker.)  And, at the Tennessee Welcome Station on I-75, I met Romanski, a handsome male Golden Retriever.  It was love at first sight.  We ran, we frolicked, we panted together, then we had to part.  I gave him my URL, but you know how those summer romances are – they never seem to work out.
     The trip has given me an inexhaustible supply of information to write about.  Like Joel Chandler Harris’ home, Eatonton, Georgia and the fine people we met there.  I have some great recipes to pass on in the weeks to come.  And I’ll tell you about the Civil War battlefield we visited.  And the people at the Geezer’s high school reunion.  And the motels that we stayed in that had water dripping from leaks in the ceiling, fights in the parking lots, exploding coffee makers, and on, and on, and on.  And the Geezer’s fishing in Michigan.  Yes, there are three things that are inevitable…death…taxes…and…the Geezer fishing if there is a body of water larger than a bath tub near him.
     Ahhhhh, I’ll have to wrap this up.  The human’s are starting to unload the car and I need to be there to supervise.  You know the species.  They’d probably leave my pillow and dish until last, like my things are less important than their suitcases and the cooler.  The amount of patience required to deal with humans!  I have to keep murmuring under my breath, “Be kind to inferiors,” so I keep my cool.  Thankfully, I reassure myself that…at least my humans aren’t of that slowest and lowest humanoid subspecies of all, humanus politicianus.

www.dlhavlin-author.com

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February 20 – High gas costs even affect we canines!

     “Well, it’s finally starting to affect us.”  Fifi the poodle looked indignant.
     “What’s starting to affect us?” I asked.
     “The price of gas!”  She said it like we should have known what was bothering her.  But then Fifi is a narcissist of the first order.  If anything disturbs her ego-centric world she believes everyone else should be aware of what’s inconveniencing her and break their necks to eliminate her problem.  She spends too much time around people.  “My human canceled my grooming appointment.  I can’t bear the thought of looking shaggy and plebian like Heintz or Gertrude.”
    Gertrude, our resident dachshund, has a habit of looking like she just emerged from a rabbit hole and a muddy one at  that.  Heintz?  What can I say?  Maybe he can register as a new breed – “Slobovian Mut.”  Missing her weekly trim wouldn’t put Fifi’s looks into either of their categories.  Not even close.  But, knowing how Fifi’s ego works, I had to get a tad catty.  “That’s too bad, you are looking a little ragged.”
    Lucy and Barbie our neighborhood’s twin Cockers seized on my remark and twisted the knife a bit.  “You do look a little misshapen.  What do you think Barbie?  Her chest cut is lopsided to the left.” 
     Barbie said, “Yep.  And, the ball on her tail looks more like a watermelon than a tennis ball.”
    “I simply can’t be seen in public this way.”  Fifi looked thoroughly distressed.  That’s a good thing.  She began pulling on her leash so hard her human was whisked away like she was skiing over the pavement. 
     The five of us that remained had a good woof over the whole thing.  If Fifi had thought about her problem on her own, we’d have been more understanding, but she’s picked up the human habit of listening to others conversation and adopting it as her own.  Our humans were talking about the rising cost of gas…so.  I think I’ll take the time to warn her of overly identifying with Homo sapiens.  You can only do so much slumming before you trash up yourself.
     “I hate to agree with the French on anything, but…” Sarge the German shepherd took a deep breath, “My human put off going to the store yesterday.  Said she could get by on what was in the pantry for another week.  Stretch things out ’cause of the cost of gas.  That includes my treats.  I’m on half rations until next Wednesday.
     Lucy turned her head to Barbie.  “That might explain why two out of our last three trips to the dog park were canceled.”
     “Or why our humans got the bicycles down from the spot where they hang in the garage,” Barbie added.  “I hate having to run next to those things instead of riding in the car.”
     “Oh, oh, oh, oh, it’s a good thing at our house.”  Manny, the hood’s cock-eyed optimist was shaking so hard you could have made a malt by attaching a glass to his back.  Chihuahua’s vibrate easily anyway.  “We all lose weight when the price of gas goes up…well, except for me.”
     I felt sorry for my little friend.  His pride wouldn’t allow him to accept pity.  “That’s too bad, Manny.  How much does it cut down on what your family can spend on food?”
     “Oh, oh, oh, oh, nothing.  We buy just as much.”
     “Then why does your family lose weight, Manny?” Sarge asked.
     “Oh, oh, oh, oh, my man human makes his own gas.”
     “Little buddy, you’re not making sense,” I said.
     “Oh, oh, oh, oh, yes I am.  I’ll explain it to you.  When the cost of gas goes up, my human gets mad and upset.  When my human gets mad and upset, he gets indigestion.  When he gets indigestion, his stomach produces gas.  When he produces gas, he farts constantly.  When he farts constantly, my woman human and the kids can’t eat  Those farts are real industrial grade, fumigation strength, sheet-rotters.  She no cooks much, so the man don’t eat either.  Everybody loses weight.”  Manny grinned.  “But…they smell just fine to me so I get more left-overs than usual plus my regular food.”
     “Sounds logical to me,” Lucy said.
     “Simple cause and effect,” Barbie conjectured.
     “Elementary, my dear Watson.”  I chuckled.  Humoring Manny is the best way to deal with him.
     Sarge rolled his eyes, shook his head, and walked away. 
     Manny thought hard for several seconds, then asked, “Oh, oh, oh, oh, Sandy…Is Watson your new boyfriend?”

www.dlhavlin-author.com

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December 22 – My Christmas present to my readers and friends, part 3

     Hello all – The Geezer and I want to thank all of you who for your many, many kind comments about A Christmas Story.  Some have asked if they can share the story.  Sure, just refer them to my blog.  The Geezer and I would love that.  I do ask that you not copy the story and reprint it.  If you missed parts 1 and 2, just scroll down – they’re the two previous posts.  As promised, here is part 3 of A Christmas Story.

The Geezer and I wish you all a very "Merry Christmas"

I'm a raindeer - Did I fool anyone?

Geezer & I share a Christmas kiss

A Christmas Story©

     Alone.  He felt truly alone.  Dave sat as close to Rachel’s side as the arms on his chair allowed, the frame of the bed restricting him from getting closer.  It would be he and his daughter when her time came.  When he phoned Russell, he had lied.  Russell had told him he would rush to get the girls ready to come to the hospital.
     “Don’t, Russell.  She’s serious, but staying the same.  There’s nothing you can do and I’d just as soon have you keep the girls be at home for Christmas day.  Rachel’s still unconscious.  I’m here and I don’t have anything else to do.  Just save me some turkey.”  Dave tried to sound upbeat.
     “Is she really the same?”
     “Yes Russell, no change,” Dave lied again.
     “For sure?”
     “Yes.”
     “Okay, but would you come over for dinner?  We’ll eat.  Then I want to go sit with her.  You can stay with the girls.”
     “Sure.”  Dave didn’t like lying to Rachel’s husband, but he believed he was doing the right thing.
     Dave held Rachel’s limp, lifeless feeling fingers in his circling hand.  Those fingers were the same ones he’d held as they stood in line at Disney World when Rachel was nine.  They’d counted the number of women standing in the serpentine queue wearing black shorts to pass the time.  He remembered the two of them playfully arguing over whether some of the shorts were black or navy blue.  Or, whether they were “double counting” some ladies.  He looked Rachel’s face.  How unfair her girls would be denied sharing those type experiences with their mother.  His mind said, God, if you’re there, this isn’t right.  The words spoken by the old fellow in the waiting room answered him.  “You realize that believing in something is much better than believing in nothing.”  Dave closed his eyes and the imagine of Ellen and little six-year-old Rachel kneeling next to Rachel’s bed, praying, was as clear as it had been twenty-eight years before.
     It had been a long time.  He felt guilty.  But, the old man’s words would not allow him to dismiss the thought, the intention.  It’s something you come to on your own.  What Dave would pray for was so easy to request.  It would be so difficult to grant.  He needed to give something in return.
     “Don’t go in there.  The man doesn’t want any decorations put up.”  Two more candy-strippers stood outside Rachel’s room.
     Dave said, “Please come in, I was wrong.”
     “All I have left are the little trees,” one of the girls said tentatively.
     “That’s fine…Please.”  Dave watched the chubby, rosy checked teenage girl scurry in and out of the room, leaving the small tree on the tray table next Rachel’s bed.
     The Christmas Tree was the answer.  It was a symbol of giving.  God had given his son to us on Christmas.  You must give everything to get everything.  Dave started to pray.  “Dear Lord, please let Rachel live.  I’ll take her place.  Gladly, I’ll take her place.  Please let Rachel live.”  He repeated the simple thought over and over.  As he did, his words changed from a ritual, said to be said, to the powerful request belief brings.  Hope entered his voice…and soul.  “Dear Lord, please let Rachel live.  I’ll take her placeGladly, I’ll take her place.  Please, let Rachel live.”
     A kernel deep inside Dave awakened.  Peace, so long denied, entered the man.  Hope strengthened in his voice.  “Dear Lord, please let Rachel live.  I’ll take her placeGladly, I’ll take her place.  Please, let Rachel live.”
     Like a murmur of a spring breeze, he felt a flutter in the flesh in the hand he held.  “Daddy?”  The voice returned to the place it should be.  Dave looked at Rachel’s face; her eyes fluttered, but they were open.
     Dave screamed, “Nurse!

*  *  *  *  *  *

     “I really can’t believe it, but I have to,” Dr. Remington said.  He shook a fistful of X-rays in front of him.  “I can’t wait for Spence to see these.  He said he thought what he did had a 5% chance of working.  What a 5%!”
     Dave stepped closer to the doctor so there was less chance of Rachel hearing his question.  “Is she okay?  I mean, is there going to be any damage?  Anything permanent?”
     “No.  Hell no!  Double Hell no!  It’s like there was never anything wrong with her, not even a trace of plaque in the artery that was damned near clogged.  It’s the damnedest thing I’ve seen in twenty-five years of pushing pills.”  Remington took a deep breath.  “All that I know says she should be…”  He looked at Rachel who was watching them as she lapsed in and out of drugged relaxed consciousness.  “You know.  You need to thank Dr. Spence when he gets here.”
     Dave said, “I will,” but knew there were others he wanted to thank first.  His train of thought was interrupted by Russell and his three granddaughters racing into the room to see Rachel.  Their tears and fears were replaced by smiles and joy.  That was good.

*  *  *  *  *  *

     Dave’s first destination after leaving his thoroughly happy family was the chapel to make his first “thank you.”  It was as heart-felt as any thought or word he’d ever had or spoken.  As soon as he rose from his knees, he walked as quickly as he could to the waiting room.  With the exception of Nurse Reynolds, the room was empty.
     Dave asked, “Excuse me ma’am, do you know anything about the old gentleman that was here when I was waiting for news about my daughter?”
     “May I ask why?”  A trace of hostility remained in the lady’s voice.
     “I want to thank him for helping me.  While I’m at it, I apologize for my behavior towards you.  I was an asshole.”  Dave looked and was sincere.
     The nurse’s face softened.  “Pressures like you were under…It’s understandable.”
     “Do you know where he went?”
     “No, I’m afraid I don’t.  You didn’t miss him by much.  He left not more than five minutes ago.”
     Dave started for the double doors, saying, “Thanks, maybe I can catch him.”
     “Ahhhh, Mr. Grimm there’s something you should know.  Mr. Bowman lost his wife.”
     Dave stopped.  He felt as though someone had struck him with a two by four.  “Oh, no!” he uttered.  “How—”
     “Heart.  He took it very well.  He shed a few tears, that’s true.  But, he said, ‘I can’t be selfish.  I had fifty-four wonderful years with her.  And, I have all those priceless memories.  They don’t die, Nurse Beverly.’  It about tore my heart out.  What a special man.”
     Dave’s need to see the old man doubled.  He bolted for the entrance, but stopped abruptly after a few steps.  He said, “Thank you and…Merry Christmas, Nurse Reynolds.”  He heard her call out, “Merry Christmas,” as the doors closed behind him.

*  *  *  *  *  *

     It was a snow covered world outside the hospital when Dave stepped through the sliding glass doors.  Two of the hospital’s service personnel were diligently shoveling the sidewalk, a duty that was demanding instant replays as large heavy flakes blurred the sky and tried to erase their efforts.
     Though it was mid-morning, the low snow clouds made the day gray, grayer than a Christmas day should be, Dave thought.  He stood at the edge of the sidewalk looking over a three inch layer of white covering the large parking lot in front of him.  Dave ignored cars gingerly navigating the slick aisles, looking for the tall thin form of his new friend.  It had been so selfish of him to only think of his problems, without realizing the old gentleman, Mr. Bowman, had his own with which to cope.  It was important to Dave to right that over-sight.  He systematically scanned the lot, row by row.
     Two-thirds of the way through the process, he saw a figure who could be the man he sought.  Dave stared intently.  The overcoat masked the figure to a degree it was hard to be sure.  The man stopped at the driver’s side door of a car almost at the other side of the lot.  After the man opened the door, he removed the stocking cap he wore.  It exposed a bald head rimmed with white hair.  Dave decided it was most surely Mr. Bowman.  If he didn’t rush after him, he’d never get the chance to thank the man.  His whole focus was to do that.
     Dave took a couple of running steps on the slick surface when the loud blaring of a car horn sounded within a few feet.  He felt the impact of the car as it smashed into him and the hard pavement as he slammed down onto it.  Dave looked upward his mind trying to process what had just happened.  He’d been hit by a car…hard.  Why didn’t he hurt?  Was he in shock?  People appeared above him, concern and alarm on their faces.  Their mouths moved, but he couldn’t hear a word they spoke.  Two of them ran toward the hospital, while the remaining lady peered down at him.  She looked horrified.
     A strange feeling came over him.  Someone must have turned on a car’s headlights for a bright flash illuminated an area above him.  He tried to find the light’s source, but neither his head nor eyes would move.  Strange, he thought.  Dave kept waiting for pain.  None came.  That was really strange.  In fact, he felt great.
     “Dave.”
     He recognized that voice, but…
     “Dave, come join me.  Your prayer was granted.”
     “Ellen?”

*  *  *  *  *

www.dlhavlin-author.com

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December 18 – My Christmas Card to my readers and friends, part 2.

     Wow!  A lot of you really loved part one of A Christmas Story, The Geezer’s and my gift to all of you.  If you didn’t read it, it’s the preceding post.  The last portion will post on Thursday the 22nd.  I hope you all enjoy this part as much as you did the start.

The Geezer and I wish you all a very "Merry Christmas"

I'm a raindeer - Did I fool anyone?

  A Christmas Story©

     The black numbers on the white face of the waiting room clock stared back at him.  Quarter-after-three, two hours since he’d been rushed out of his daughter’s room.  A starched looking nurse had provided him with the only words regarding Rachel’s condition.  She delivered them as stiffly and formally as the white dress she wore. “Your daughter’s aneurysm is in a critical stage.  The doctors are doing all they can, Mr. Grimm.  If there’s any change in her condition, someone will talk to you.  Dr. Remington said to tell you he’ll be out as soon as she’s stabilized.”  She’d tried to leave before he had a chance to ask questions.  Dave had leaped to his feet and blocked her exit, but it did no good.  The woman was implacable.  Her answer to his every question was either, “I don’t know,” or “You’ll have to discuss that with the doctors.”
     When she stepped past him after issuing one last, “I don’t know,” he lashed out verbally, saying, “Do you know anything?  Like your name?  Bitch!”
     The woman stopped, straightened and stiffened, turned slowly to face him, and spoke in a slow and controlled manner, a manner that must have been difficult for her, given the fire flickering in her eyes.  She said, “My name is Beverly Reynolds.  And…you…don’t want to know…all I know.”
     “I’m sorry,” Dave murmured, the cause of his red face changing from anger to embarrassment.
    The nurse eyed him for a few seconds then said, “Yes…you are.”  She spun around as she left, pushing the double doors out of her way hard enough that they banged against their stops as she exited the room.
     That exchange was an hour-and-a-half ago.  Nothing had happened since.  Nothing.  Dave got up from the couch and went to the table supporting a large coffee maker.  Dave poured another cup of the vile tasting stuff.  It had something added to impart a holiday flavor; he guessed it was ginger.  Were his frequent trips to the table for coffee keeping him awake and shaking…or the sheer agony of waiting for his daughter to die?  He picked up a napkin that was decorated with poinsettia flowers to catch any of the black fluid that escaped his Styrofoam cup.  That cup had Happy Holiday printed in red and green letters on its white background.  Dave read it aloud, “Happy Holiday.” He snorted and added, “Yeah, that’s almost right, Happy ShittyHoliday.  You left out a word.”
     “I guess since we’re here, it does make it difficult for it to be just a plain old Happy Holiday.”  An old man spoke.  He was the only other person in the waiting room and was sitting in a chair a few feet from the table.  “It isn’t a very good present for us to have to be here at three AM on Christmas morning.  That’s true enough.  But, it being Christmas…it reminds us we’ve got someone looking out for us.”
     “Yes, sure.”  Dave frowned.  He didn’t want or need to be preached to, not at this second in his life.  His faith had never been strong.  Since the untimely death of Ellen, it was non-existent.  The look on his face and the sarcasm in the tone he used to answer the old man were a scoffed rebuff of the man’s attempt to offer some hope.  Dave returned to his seat on the couch.  As he sat down, he retreated into his world of despair, staring into the black coffee for an answer he knew wasn’t there.  He heard shuffling footsteps, but chose to ignore them because the last thing he wanted was a well-intentioned Pollyanna chewing on his ear.
     “You don’t believe, do you?”  The old man stood in front of him.
     Dave looked up.  The man was tall and thin.  His hair, what remained of it, clung to the sides of his head, apologizing for the bald expanse atop his cranium.  Deep set hazel eyes, a hooked nose, and thin lips, cooperated in producing a sad, patient smile.  He was probably in his eighties, fifteen to twenty years Dave’s senior.  Dave’s recent unpleasantness with the nurse made him more measured in his response as he said, “You mean this stuff?”  Dave pointed at some ornaments hung from the ceiling, at one of the miniature Christmas trees sitting on the coffee table, and, finally, to a manger scene on a round table in one corner of the room.  “Sorry, I don’t.”
     “I won’t ask you why.  I know almost all the reasons folks don’t believe.  Yep, I know them all…and, I still choose to believe.  Silly, I guess.”  He pointed to vacant space on the couch next to Dave.  “Mind if I sit?”
     “It’s not my couch.”  Dave’s frown and words didn’t discourage the old man as Dave hoped.
     The old man’s smile remained.  “I know you probably don’t want someone intruding in what you’re going through, but seeing you…well, I feel I have to try.  I promise I’ll not take a lot of time.  But, you see, old farts like me don’t do many things as well as we once could.  Just so happens, interfering and intruding is something at which we excel.”
     Though he didn’t want to, Dave chuckled, smiled wryly, and nodded, “Go ahead.”
     “Ever been in a battle?  Not just in service, I mean a fight where you have people shooting at you, trying to kill you.  Artillery, machine guns, mortars, the works.”  He waited for Dave to answer.
     “No, I never was in service at all.”
     The man nodded.  “Well, I have and I’ll tell you it’s all the bad dreams you ever had, doubled, and know what, you’re not asleep.  Panic, fear, terror, scared to death, nothing can describe how it is.  Words just don’t get it.”
     Dave looked at him, not sure where the man’s story was going.  Seeing the question in Dave’s eyes, the old man asked, “Ever hear the saying, There’s no atheists in foxholes…?”
     “Yes, I guess I have,” Dave acknowledged.
     “It’s true.  And, there isn’t a priest, or a preacher, or a rabbi crawling from foxhole to foxhole converting men.  Nope, it’s something you come to on your own.  You realize that believing in something is much better than believing in nothing.  Belief gives you hope.  Without that, you’ve got nothing, son.  I learned that on an island called Saipan.  If you have hope, you can survive anything.  There’s a comfort that comes with it that’s hard to explain until you find it.  Just a little prayer can help more—”
     “Mr. Grimm, please come with me right away!”  Nurse Reynolds’ urgent tone and expression told him the crisis had arrived.  She held the doors to the waiting room open, waiting for Dave to join her.  He stood as though shocked with electricity.  Dave cast a glance at the old man.
     “Go ahead, son.  Just think.  And, good luck!” he said.

*  *  *  *  *  *

     In his absence, the doctors had transformed his daughter into a caricature of herself.  Breathing tubes and other devices were connected to her, most of which he had no idea as to their purpose. It made Rachel look like a character from a science fiction movie.  Her face was distorted.  Dr. Remington and another white-coated ghoul he didn’t recognize were huddled over Rachel as he approached her bedside.  The nurse cleared her throat to warn the doctors of Dave’s presence.  Both straightened and looked at him.  The message contained in their faces was dire.
     “Mr. Grimm—” Remington paused, looking for the words he’d have to say.  He postponed the inevitable.  “This is Dr. Spence.  He’s our neurological specialist here at Mount St. Mary’s.  He’s been assisting us treat your daughter.”
     The second doctor nodded and said, “Hello.”  The salutation’s tone was more like a dirge.
     Dave asked either one that would answer, “How is she doing?  I know things aren’t good, but does she have a chance?”
     “Well, we’ve tried to arrest the distortion of the artery.  We’ve found that the aneurysm is unusual in that it’s compounded by a clot that’s restricting flow and multiplying the swelling’s rapid growth.  It’s not operable.  If the clot dislodges, it might alleviate the swelling at that point…but, we don’t think…well, it would likely lead to a massive stroke.  That portion of the brain—” Dr. Spence shook his head and looked down.
     “Does she have any chance?” Dave asked.
     Before he’d spoken all his words, he had his answer.  Dr. Remington shook his head and said, “I’m sorry.”
     Dave felt tears forming on his lower lids.  “How long?”
     “I don’t know.  We’ve given her drugs we hoped might help with the clot.  We’ll do our best to keep her alive, at least through today.”
     “Today?” Dave didn’t understand.
     “It being Christmas,” Remington explained.
     Bitterness and anger welled up into a volcano inside Dave, but right before he erupted, the word, Think, spoken by the old gentleman in the waiting room, flashed like a neon sign in his mind.  He stood silently.  Even though he didn’t believe, he knew Rachel did.  Would showing disrespect for her faith be disrespect for her?  He decided it would.  It was hard, but he chose to swallow the harsh words in his chest.  After collecting his thoughts, he asked, “Will she regain consciousness?”
     Remington looked at Spence who said, “No.”

 *  *  *  *  *  *
(to be continued)

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