Friday, May 28, 2010

Stroke Cut Call

Stroke Cut Call

I don’t know why, but I was convinced one morning recently that I needed a haircut.

Such conviction is not normally worthy of discussion or attention, and I wouldn’t normally pay attention to it, let alone bother someone else with it, but my little world is different, now. It has been amended by a stroke.

I don’t why I keep forgetting that. It’s a reality I am learning about daily. Who knows, maybe one day, when I get the hang of it, I could teach it; Stroke 101.

I am discovering, day by day, that a stroke alters one’s perception of what, “normal,” is. Is fact, a stroke should come with a warning; “Be careful of, ‘Normal.’ It’s likely a trap.”

“Normal,” is not that for me any more. Invariably, it comes as a surprise, almost every time.

The best, as far as expectations go is, “approximately,” normal. The worst—well, I don’t think I’ve seen the worst. But to paraphrase one of my sons—the worst would have to be, “really [messed] up.” Maybe, “really, really [messed] up.”

My son used that on my mother last fall. She was 89 and had been dying for—oh, I don’t know, long enough that the funny lines were getting really competitive. By then we were delivering lines about short-circuiting her combined defibrillator-pacemaker, because every time she died, it woke her up.

“Jesus, am I still here?” she would say.

Jed arrived from Florida. He abruptly said: “Oh, man, Grandma, you really look [messed] up!”

The simple beauty of it tore the house down. I was sure she would die laughing after that. Of course, she waited for someone to top it.

So, I needed a haircut. I needed one desperately, which in itself, is not normal. “Desperation” and “haircut,” were never words that appeared together in a sentence of my construction.

If they did, however (“desperate,” and, “haircut,”), two years ago, I would have walked into the upstairs bathroom, taken the comb and the small, blue haircutting scissors (presented to me by a professional haircutter, as a testament to my self-haircutting prowess), and had at my head.

Well, I’m right-handed. My right hand now doesn’t budge. My left hand never has seen scissors. I certainly don’t want it experimenting near my head.

Plus, I can’t get to the upstairs bathroom, because my whole right side won’t accompany my left up the stairs. Something about a strike. Maybe, a stroke.

I am home, alone, which is no big deal—in fact, I find that I like it—but there is no car to get to a haircutter. Remember: “One thing at a time.” Driving a car is about, well, twenty-three, on the list. I am still working on five; getting up by myself. (One and two were crucial, especially for an insufferably modest Irish-Catholic male.).

“Ooooh!” I thought. “I have a phone. Aha!”

And I had the name, Dawn O’Keefe Hores, in my head, for the first time—not the lady who cuts my hair but a haircutter, nonetheless.

I couldn’t believe the names were suddenly there. Dawn O’Keefe Hores is a friend. Friends’ names drift in when you don’t have any occasion to use them—like, say, you’re eating spinach—and drift out when you do. (This is from Stroke 101.). She gave me the blue scissors. She said she would love to come one day a give me a haircut. I would call Dawn.

I knew there was a function on my phone that said, “Free Information.” Or was it, “Free 411.” I don’t often dial out. It’s a one-handed thing. It’s a right-handed-one-handed thing. I would soon learn that it was a right-handed-one-handed-automated-voice-activated-too-fast-with-the-questions-don’t-hang-up-give-me-a-freaking-break thing.

Free 411 has commercials. All right, no problem. But the commercial for Verizon…or, was it Optimun…stole, “Hores,” as in, “Dawn O’Keefe Hores,” from my head. I couldn’t remember her last name. Bad news, I hung up.

Then, “Free 411,” is completely automated. So, first I answer, “residence,” and it corrects me: “Residential.”

“Sorry.” Now, I’m apologizing to a machine, which is not listening. It’s on to the next item…

“City and State, please.”

“Uhh…oh…Wait. Melv…”

“City and State, please.”

“Oh, of course…uh…” And I hung up, which took a while, now, to remember how to do. Nerves.

Okay, start again. First, I jot down her husband’s name, because Automaton is going to ask: “‘Brad…’ Oh, come on! I know his last name. He’s a fireman, I can see his face. I can see his truck. Big truck.”

How am I going to ask her number without her husband’s first name.

“Hores. Hores.” Write that down…oh, yeah…lefty…dammit…The ‘H’ looked like a ‘4.’

“City and State please.”

“Hores…I mean, no, Melvil…”

“City and State please..”

“Melville, New York.” (YEAH! Ta da!)

“Farmington, New York?”

“What? No. No, Farmington?…No, Melv…”

“What listing in Farmington, New York?”

“What? No…uh…Dawn O’Keefe…oh brother…Brad…I don’t remember…”

I would write, “Click,” but I really pressed every button on the phone. It’s really a good thing no one was home. I’d be getting my strait jacket off about now.

This is obviously not over, yet…cont’d


  1. Sroke 101?
    Where do i sign up??
    You teach lessons..
    like no other, edlowe!
    What a delight you are*! :)

  2. oops.. I mean stroke*
    guess I need that class
    more then I thought1 :)