How celebrate Columbus Day? I’m probably not alone in this, but I’ll kick off the day with a fasting blood draw. I think it’s time that I have my blood sugar checked, because in the past six to eight weeks I’ve noticed that I’m almost constantly thirsty, and often find myself making mad dashes to the bathroom. It is now just 11 p.m., and I had my last non-water at 9 p.m.
The title is Latin for “nothing by mouth,” a medical direction for patients (usually written on charts and hospital bracelets as “NPO”). I never took a Latin class, despite two years at a Catholic middle school. However, my dad was an English professor, and he grew up Catholic pre-Vatican II and attended the Catholic University of America, so he was fluent in Latin. I picked up enough Latin by sheer osmosis that I had a very easy time learning pharmacy shorthand when I worked at Medco Health. When my fellow trainees were sweating blood over the difference between bid, tid, and qid, (twice, three times, and four times per day, respectively), I just told them to remember bicycle, tricycle, quartet, and it would be easy.
I’m usually pretty good at gleaning a word’s meaning from looking at its Latin roots, although I have been off base from time to time. (My biggest faux pas was that for years I thought a pedophile was somebody with a foot fetish.)
After they draw the pipette of blood, I’m meeting Jacques at church, and he, his almost-centenarian mom, and I will be headed to Mineral and the Feed My Sheep Food Pantry. (I try to go whenever I have a Monday off from work.) It’ll be good to be down there putting together food packages. We’re not quite halfway through the month, so I don’t know if there will be a mob scene on hand or not. Ray Ogburn, the director of the pantry, is rightfully proud of the fact that his pantry has never run out of food. The quality of the food varies–it depends on what people donate, and what Ray can buy from the Mid-Ohio Food Bank.
I took Susie to a political rally at the back of the new Ohio Union last night. As much as I would like to think she was eager to see our incumbent U.S. Representative Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Columbus) and Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher (currently running for the U.S. Senate), the truth is that the drawing card was Matthew Morrison, who plays Will Schuester on Glee. She waited patiently (barely) through the speeches by Fisher, Kilroy, and lieutenant governor candidate Yvette McGee Brown until Morrison came onto the podium, and her eyes were out on springs the entire time he was speaking. Once the rally ended, she joined the throngs (I almost typed “thongs”–do Freudian slips extend to the keyboard?) flocking around Morrison. I spoke briefly with Fisher, since he was at Oberlin at the same time as a dear friend of mine who died in 1997. Susie asked for my notepad and my pen, and, after almost being smothered by the crowd, she emerged a little later, victoriously waving the pad. “I got it! I got it!” she said, bouncing up and down. I looked at the book. Sure enough, Morrison had scrawled his name onto the page.
I scanned the page before I tore it out of the notebook for her, so
Susie could share it with her Facebook friends.
Susie has added it to her autograph collection (which includes autographs by Jim Davis, Lemony Snicket, and Emma Watson). The only political signature she has is John Glenn’s, which I got for her when I attended a Democratic rally at the Holiday Inn in Worthington last month. (Senator Glenn also signed an autograph for me, replacing the one I lost. He signed that one in 1974, when he came to Marietta to dedicate the Ohio River Museum.)
Susie also managed to shake Morrison’s hand, and she
proudly shared the news with her friends at church this morning. The other day, I was rereading XXXIII Celebrities,
an autobiographical chapbook by Robert Lowry, the Cincinnati-born novelist I befriended the last few years of his life in the 1990s. He wrote of the famous people whom he had met (Babe Ruth held the four-year-old Lowry in his arms in 1923; Lowry rejected a story by Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin scolding him for a Time
review he wrote). If I ever wrote of such a thing, I’d have to write about the only celebrity who has ever kissed me.
It wasn’t Julia Roberts. It wasn’t Madonna. It wasn’t Jennifer Aniston.
It was–of all people–David Susskind.
During the summer of 1983, a skeleton crew stayed on at The Harvard Crimson to put out the summer edition of the newspaper (twice daily in the summer, instead of five days per week) and produce The Confidential Guide to Courses at Harvard-Radcliffe. I sublet an apartment near the Tufts campus and spent almost every waking hour on Plympton St. One day, I came up from The Shop, deserting my CRTronic Linotype long enough to get a Coke or go to the bathroom, and there was a man in his early 60s sitting in one of the swivel chairs by the rows of overworked typewriters. The semicircle of Crimson personnel followed every word with rapt attention. He spoke of his plans to travel to the Soviet Union to interview Yuri Andropov, and when he mentioned the coup he scored with his 1960 interview of Khrushchev, I knew this was David Susskind. Susskind spoke of the gifts that Soviet citizens wanted most from the United States: toiletries, long-playing records, and–this surprised me–feminine hygiene products (pads and tampons), since Soviet women usually resorted to using newspaper.
When he stood up to go, I put out my hand to introduce myself. (I didn’t tell him that I knew of him primarily from voice impressionist David Frye’s albums Radio Free Nixon and I am the President.) He didn’t even see my proffered hand, but instead took my elbows, bent over, and kissed both cheeks. I’m proud to say I accepted it much more graciously than Archie Bunker did with Sammy Davis Jr.:
We are currently in search of new living quarters. As much as we love Clintonville, we feel we need to move to a place where rent is less expensive. The reason is because wherever we move will become bachelor quarters for me (although I’ll technically be a grass widower
, not a bachelor) once the divorce is final, and we want it to be affordable enough for someone who will be making child support payments.
Scotty and I looked at some places in Franklinton, the neighborhood just west of downtown Columbus where we once lived, yesterday. (If you read my pre-February 2009 posts here
, you’ll read a chronicle of our Franklinton life.) The neighborhood seems to have borne the brunt of the tanking economy. Houses fully occupied are sitting vacant, many of them are boarded up. If I was in the plywood supply business, I would have a net worth in the seven figures just from Franklinton alone. We looked at one house and were just appalled by the state of disrepair. (The landlord told me on the phone: “It’s unlocked, just let yourself in!” when I tried to arrange a time to meet him.) The gutters were shredded and hanging off the edge of the roof, every upper floor ceiling bore massive water stains, the tub needed to be totally replaced–it was way beyond re-glazing. My guess is that the landlord was deliberately keeping the place unlocked, hoping that a homeless person will pass out in there with a lit cigarette and he can reap beaucoup
insurance dollars afterwards. (I doubt professional arsonists advertise on Craigslist, so I doubt the landlord would ever go that route.)