New York, New York… a place so great they named it twice… is a city of reaction, a city of critics, columnists, and pontificators… Robert Benchley, Dorothy Parker, Woody Allen, Nora Ephron, Jon Stewart… Everybody… down to the very last chica at the optometrist’s office who tightens the screws on my glasses… has an opinion… a clear and pronounced reaction to everything and anything.
Everyone here reacts. Except me. I’ve got nothing. Mostly.
I still can’t feel most of my face, but I’ve done a lot of What’s New Pussycats and at Day 30… I can smile:
Granted, it’s slightly demonic, but it’s genuine… and voluntary. And speech is happening. At first, every word was like water… a formless puddle of vowels… then, when frustrated… like scalpels… singular, slicing cuts of consonants. But now I’m told I sound like a combination of French, deaf and Scooby-Doo… a lost, unconnected brogue.
I think it came out best the other day at the oral surgeon’s… I’m sitting there and Walter (the illustrious doctor) is poking my chin with what looks like a lobster fork. (sigh… man, I so miss lobster… and beef… I swear, when this is all over… I am going to eat a whole cow. Poor Bessie.)
Anyway… I’m there making Walter laugh… I’ve been listening to him scolding the guy in the next room… a Latin American construction worker who fell 3 stories onto his face… so gnarly… I’d seen him in the waiting room with his brother and thought he must have been the most beautiful man before… wide Mayan cheekbones… the kind that make a face truly cinematic… like a film screen, perfect for conveying a subtle stream of emotion… Apparently, he isn’t brushing enough.
Walter is telling him in no uncertain terms that if he gets an infection, he could lose his entire jaw… and the guy is muttering, “It’s just the pain… it hurts…” and I’m sitting there just freaking out… writhing so much in my chair I practically need a seatbelt… because for those of you who know me… I am a crazy-compulsive brusher/flosser… I want to shout at the guy, “Hey Amigo! Amigo!!! You’ve got to suck it up and BRUSH… or you’ll end up like Roger Ebert!! Trust me, you don’t want the little curtain! The curtain BLOWS!” But at that point, I’m still wired shut, and even if this is NYC, it might come off as a tad intrusive to shout at other patients through walls. Plus, he could do worse than end up like the brave and brilliant Roger Ebert… and Roger had Chaz…
But now, Walter is not laughing… he alternates between poking me with the fork and squinting at a single, foggy x-ray. Then, his face collapses inward on itself, sad, “You realize, the break was right at the nerve… ”
I scowl (on the inside) and ask, in my best French Scooby accent… “But zee nooves can we-jenna-wate?”
No answer. He just looks at me… sorry, He pokes my lips again, and I want to tell him I DO feel something, but I’d be lying. He puts a hand over my eyes, continuing… and that’s when I wonder… pretty much out of nowhere… what if my last kiss was my last kiss?
I think back and a fever dream hits.. Kissing is better than ice cream, the perfect degree of hot … like branches wrestling in a storm… it’s that I-cannot-get-you-close-enough feeling of yearning and satisfaction… like salt and chocolate… of holding someone’s face in your hands… the wild rush of being consumed and consuming… If I were Maria in The Sound of Music… I would definitely have to re-write the My Favorite Things number to include it. If I were Oprah, I would bottle it and put it under audience members’ chairs. Screw the whole giving everyone a car thing. Instead, give them that indescribable, amazing kiss feeling. I remember my face, tiny, in his hands, Like the iconic theme song to the epic 1990’s rom-com, She’s All That…
Never let that bit go… is my loud and unequivocal New York opinion. Keep it close and ever closer… in case you don’t get to feel it again. Make certain your last kiss was your best kiss. Never take it for granted. Catch the deluge in both hands and linger over it. There is nothing like a kiss.
Walter uncovers my eyes and tells me plainly… with nary a hint of drama… that we need to go back in again. This time, from the other side, by my left ear. I go into the hospital on Wednesday.
I sink as I think of it now… the gnawing morphine itch, of the incalculable vulnerability of backless nighties… oof. At least, I’ll be prepared this time… Bananagrams to play with the one cool nurse… better undies for the doctors… sour apple Jolly Ranchers. I pause and wonder if I will run into Mr. Hairy-no-pants again… or Vikram, the uber-Christian Uber driver who prayed for me. I’ll tell you about him next time.
This is some heavy shit… I need to stay funny right now.
xx – gg