This Thing Called Courage

Thursday, March 20, 2008


I WAS BRAGGING AND BOASTING THE OTHER DAY TO SOMEONE WHO WAS SUFFERING WITH THE FLU that I hadn't been sick in ages-- just what someone wants to hear when they're sick, right? can probably guess the rest of this story. Last night me and three dear friends went to the Newton Free Library (quite the place!) to hear another dear friend, Allen Young, speak about the Quabbin Reservoir, land preservation, and the beautifully wild region of Massachusetts known as 'North of Quabbin.' (Allen is the author of the wonderful 'North of Quabbin Revisted,' which I highly recommend.) As the night went on I felt more and more bogus, (boguser and boguser?) and got wet on the way home, had the chills on the subway, had to wait forever for the train, blah blah blah-- and when I got home, little Fionn was bouncing off the walls and ready to go for a ten mile hike, pouring rain or no.
Today I feel like a truck hit me and left me for dead by the side of the road-- a cold, ugly road. Oi. My voice is gone, I'm burning up, aches and pains, etc etc. It's a shame as my church has the most beautiful Holy Thursday service-- the Washing of the Feet, the great Mandamus (command)-- "He who would be great among you, be a servant" (I love that.) This is the beginning of the Easter Triduum. But I'll miss it, alas-- plus I like to stay put when I'm ill, rather than be a walking-talking petri dish of spreading infection. (When I was in the corporate world, our office was blessed with 'Ginny the Trooper.' If there was a vicious bug around, Ginny would be the first to corner that particular market; despite the fact that she had 400,000 lightyears of accumulated sick leave, she would never stay home. "You know me," she would bray, sniffling and hacking and blowing her nose as she said it. "I'm a trooper!"

Yes indeed-- she was a trooper, in more ways than one. I'm not sure what work she ever got done, as she seemed to spend most of her day schlepping from one desk to another, 'visiting.' Well, as you can imagine, within hours half the building would have evacuated, people taken sick by Ginny's role as the East Coast Distributor of Flu. Don't you love people like that? I think she had seen one flu-medicine commercial too many. "The Keeps You Going Medicine!" And then they always show people running up the stairs at some vacuous office building, rolled-up blueprints in hand. Or something. Gentle readers, important and unique and beautiful as all of us are, no one is that indispensible. Stay the Frig Home!

Maybe if I stay in bed all day today (other then when I have to walk Fionn-- ugh) I'll make it to the services tomorrow, for Good Friday. I lost my cell phone Monday night, so I can't even call my Mom in Florida for astrally-projected sympathy. Boo-hoo! The one good thing about being sick is, it makes one appreciate the gift of health. And that is what I wish you all, gentle readers.

I'll miss going to Happy Land today. I believe if I could get there, it would make me well. With this thought in mind earlier this morning, I fell back asleep. I wanted to dream of Happy Land, but....this is what happened instead. I dreamt my bed had become this funny kind of vehicle, like a jeep, but flatter and wider, with TWO steering wheels, one on the right and one on the left. My sister Peggy was beside me, and we were both driving. As one might assume, when two people are driving the same car (!!!) concord and agreement were called for: I wanted to drive straight to Happy Land, but Peggy said we had to pick up my mother first. Okay, I said. My mother takes rug hooking classes (she's really good at it) and was, in my dream, up at her class, in Arlington Heights. Just as we pulled up to the house where the class was, a local elementary school was letting out, and a bunch of local urchins were running down the street, screaming and shouting as is their wont. Our vehicle (my bed on wheels) oddly had no windshield, and three of the little people started screaming at us, then spitting in our faces! I got out and gave chase, then grabbed them, brought them back to the vehicle, and drove it up to the Stratton School on the other side of Arlington, where I was going to turn them in to Bernie Walsh, an old principal of my youngest brother Mike's. By this time me and the three young'uns had become good friends, and they were following me around quite docilely. We couldn't find Bernie Walsh anywhere, but soon I became aware that people (in fire engines, no less) were looking for us, looking for me I should say, as I was wanted...for kidnapping! They drove the fire engines right into the inside of the school in their zeal to apprehend me. "I don't like this dream anymore," I said to my companions. "I'm going to leave now." I said goodbye to my three little friends, told them not spit in people's faces anymore, then decamped. What would Freud make of all this?

"You have a fever," I think he would say, tossing his notebook over his shoulder. "Take two aspirin and call me in the morning."


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