Chapter 1: The Masked Surgeon.
I mentioned in my last entry that I had to have some minor oral surgery done last week. The bones that hold my teeth to my face are “bumpy”, and apparently that’s enough of a problem that a surgeon has to now go in and un-bump them. This involves peeling my gums back and then vigorously applying a Dremel to the bones until they un-bump. Then they sew my gums back on, and I resume chewing. It’s being done in 4 stages: upper left, lower left, upper right, lower right. Last Thursday was lower left’s turn.
I like my surgeon, which is good because you don’t want to harbor ill feelings towards someone while they’re reshaping your skull with a hand tool. Shaking with rage might result in blood, or a third nostril or something.
When he entered the operating theater last Thursday, the first thing he said was “I’m not going to shake your hand because I have a bad cold. But don’t worry, I’m wearing a mask.”
I obsess about getting a cold. Having a stuffy, runny nose and a scratchy throat is hell when your job consists of talking for 8 hours a day. And wearing headphones amplifies any sinus headache into a conflagration similar to those described in the Book of Revelations. I’d rather have Ebola than a cold. AIDS. Cancer of the toenail. Endometriosis. Anything. Just not a cold.
And now some guy with a cold is about to stick his un-gloved hands into my mouth while his own mouth hovers mere inches above my face for about an hour.
But of course, this is not just “some guy”. He’s a surgeon. If he tells me a piece of cotton gauze over his mouth is sufficient protection, who am I to argue? I don’t see the initials “MD” after my name on my Connecticut School of Broadcasting diploma.
He did the surgery.
And I caught a cold.
I still have it too, although I seem to be over the worst of it. I think I have *just* enough left to pass it back to him when I go in this afternoon to have my stitches removed.
Maybe I should warn him to wear a mask. Then call his office in a week and laugh when they tell me he’s got another cold.
Chapter 2: The Long Con.
My last entry also mentioned in passing that the 27th of January was my birthday. Normally birthdays at DangerHouse are a debauched descent into obscene amounts of food, sex, and “Girls und Panzer” episodes. Mouth surgery this year though meant severe limitations on the first two. (No problem with the anime.)
One other tradition that is also strictly adhered to is the “Giving of the Le Creuset”. I think I’ve detailed this in every other birthday entry I’ve done, but if you’ve missed them here’s the concise version: when I was dating NewWifey(tm) I told her the sad tale of how we had a great Le Creuset dutch oven when I was a kid, but my kid sister snagged it after my mother died. That year on my birthday NewWifey(tm) gave me a Le Crueset dutch oven. And she’s done so every birthday since.
So after the sex and the bowl of soft gruel with the candle in it and the second round of sex, I knew what had to be in the big box with the bow on it that she placed in front of me.
But first –
“Here’s your card” she said, and handed me this:
“What happened to it?” I asked. “Did the cat get to it first?”
She laughed. “Open it.”
I did, although the envelope was fragile enough that I inadvertently added to the already impressive wrinkle count.
Inside was some sentimental and instantly forgettable corporate approved pap. But I had to pat her head anyway.
“Awww, what a nice card. Thank you honey, I’ll remember this one for a long time.”
“No you won’t” she said.
“Of course I will!” I said, “It’s really special.”
“Pretty memorable envelope too, right?”
I laughed. “It sure was. I won’t forget THAT for a while, either.”
“Yes you will.”
“What are you talking about?”
She pulled out her phone and started scrolling.
“Here, look at this.” She handed it to me. It was a selfie of her holding my birthday card and envelope.
“I don’t get it” I said. “You took a selfie with my card before giving it to me?” I looked closer. There was a Post-It Note stuck to her chest that said: ‘2016 – 1st Year. His comment: ‘I’ll always remember this card‘.
“You got the year wrong.” I said.
I scrolled. Another selfie of her holding the same card. But she was dressed differently than in the first pic, and the envelope this time had a tear and a few wrinkles.
And another Post-It Note: “2017 – 2nd Year. His comment: ‘Did the cat attack the envelope or something?’“.
“What’s this all about?”
I scrolled. Same card, but the envelope was now decidedly more battered, with several tears and pronounced crumple zones. A different outfit on NewWifey(tm) yet again, and this time the Post-It read, “2018 – 3rd Year. His comment: “What happened to the envelope? The cat get to it first?”
She took the phone back. “This is the FOURTH YEAR IN A ROW that I have given you this card. In the same envelope. And every year you’ve ripped it open and added new wrinkles, and said the same thing: ‘did the cat get it?‘ FOUR YEARS!”
“I…what…how…” I fished for something to say.
NewWifey(tm) just smirked. “Do you know that ten years ago my mother sent you a birthday card that was the exact same card as the one she sent you eleven years ago? And she’s been sending you that same card every year since?”
I looked at my Mother-In-Law’s card lying on the table that I’d opened earlier that morning. “She did?”
NewWifey(tm) dropped a pile of cards in my lap. They were all identical, just with different years hand written inside them. “I noticed the very first time she repeated the card” she said. “I called and asked her about it and she said, ‘Oh, I buy cards by the box for any man I have on my list. They never notice. I gave the same anniversary card to your father every years for 48 years, and he went to his grave not realizing it.’ So I thought I’d see if she was right.”
“I guess she was” I said. “I even said the same stupid thing about the cat.”
“Men, huh? Amiright, girls?”
“So, uh, can I open my present now?”
It was, as expected, Le Creuset. Unexpected though was the fact that it was a matching saucepan and small frying pan. It looked old.
“I found it at an antique store” NewWifey(tm) said. “The guy said it was from the ’70’s. It looks like it’s in good shape, and the price was right. I hope you like it.”
“I do!” I said. “Er…you didn’t give me this one last year, did you?”
“I knew it. I always remember these things.”
“Yup.” She kissed me on the head. “Happy Birthday, baby. I love you. Don’t forget that.”
Waaaaaaaaait – didn’t she tell me that last year? She can’t fool me!
Chapter 3: Largess.
Of course, I had to give the new pans a try that night. So even though I wasn’t supposed to chew I decided on the spur of the moment to make Spanish garlic shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo), which seemed tailor made for that lidded saucepan.
And it was:
Normally one serves this dish with a loaf of fresh bread to sop up the soppings, but…we’d already eaten the entire loaf of bread I’d made earlier that day. So I made pasta. Pasta that I didn’t have to chew:
Come to think of it, I didn’t chew the shrimp either. I have a very large throat.
Speaking of large, how’s this for largess:
See that bottle of wine? That, and several others of various varieties from the same vineyard were shipped out to my by my buddy Dawson and his wife Annie as a Christmas present to me and NewWifey(tm). They cost more than my first car (a 1974 Beetle, dark blue).
The shrimp were good, but pairing it with that exclusive chardonnay sent it to a level few of my dishes have reached before. Daws, I can’t thank you enough for your thoughtfulness and generosity – again. I’ll never forget it.
Or, I’m pretty sure I won’t. Maybe I should write it on a Post-It note and take a selfie, just in case….
Have a great weekend everybody! Remember to…uh……