The Prairie Spy

Alan “Lindy” Linda

As an aging human who wants to live forever, I’ve had to become accustomed to doctors looking up, down, in, and around every one of my openings.

I’m calling these human apertures “openings” in respect for Miss Martin, the noble, prim, heroic woman who taught at Douglas # 8, the country school I spent eight grades in. In some kind of twisted Victorian-age sense of extreme and radical propriety, she wouldn’t even call her leg a leg. It was a limb. Gasp. Blink. Squirm. Blush.

It was this quirk of hers in regard to her person that prevented any one of us from telling her, when she came in from the girls’ outhouse, that her dress was tucked into her underwear in the back. Even at age seven or eight, I knew there were certain subjects that one should avoid with females.

I was above average, you know.

“So,” the young nurse asked me–another sign of old age, they’re all young– at my last physical, “how are you feeling?” She’s looking at her computer, following some suggested interrogation format. 

Feelings? I had trouble with that question. This request, delving into the depths of my male uncomfortableness regarding feelings, had me squirming inside. I couldn’t answer: Males don’t really have feelings. We have openings. You see the parallel here. I mumbled some kind of affirmative. Hhhhmmmmuuuuuhhhuuuuhhh. Something like that.

That was a reply that left her with no recourse but to raise the pressure on me. She upped it by asking: “Do you have any thoughts of hurting yourself?”

Well, let’s see here. I guess not until I came over here to the VA clinic for my annual physical and you started asking me questions like that. Do I have any thoughts about hurting myself??? 

Well, yyyyeeeesssss, I’d like to go jump off a bridge right now. I guess that qualifies. But you cannot say stuff like that, so I mumbled again.  Uuuuuummmmmooooohhhhnnnuuuunn.

About here, Saint Paul the Parlor Heater, who was enviably nice and warm in my basement at home, had been, for lack of anything better to do, monitoring this conversation I’d been having with this nurse.

He said: “You better start bringing your A-game here, or they’re gonna lock you up in a White Room!”  

What are you doing here, I said? Oooops. That was out loud.

Then I realized that the nurse thought I was speaking to her, so she became a little more aware that she might be dealing with, well, umm, a nut case. I forgot that I have to use my inside voice when talking to appliances. People often ask me, or want to ask me, how it is that I can converse with appliances? To which I reply–I wish I knew. 

How do they talk to me? Well, they talk to me in italics. Kind of.

Saint Paul had just spent the last 40 odd years sitting in a dark corner of one of the farm sheds here. That gave him lots of time to think, I guess, because he was inside my head almost all the time now that I’d brought him in and hooked him up and started stuffing him full of firewood at all times of the day and night. He wanted to talk. 

“Do you often have dreams involving violence?” the nurse asked me. Oh, oh, oh, Saint Paul kicked in. Tell her about the one where you have a family reunion and ask everyone to bring an axe and a chainsaw! 

(Quit it, Mr. Paul. You know I told you that was so they could help us make more firewood.)

Apparently Saint Paul has been able to tune in soap operas while he is busy smoking in our basement. His favorite program is reruns of “As the World Turns.” From watching that, he has developed a warped sense of what human relations are all about.

Well, readers, if you can buy that they can talk, it’s not much of a step forward to think they can tune in soap operas. Keep up, here.

I need all the help I can get writing this stuff.  St. Paul is the patron saint of writers. And now he’s heating up in my basement. Ah, life. Fate. Quirky stuff.

The nurse says: “Okay, now, we’re going to take your blood pressure.” I looked at her. Was she serious?  I didn’t say anything, but she had spent the last fifteen minutes riling me up, and now she’s gonna take my blood pressure?!?!?!  

Easy does it, there, lindy. She’s looking at you kind of strangely. If you get up and run for it, they’ll come with drugs and strait jackets!

So I let her take my blood pressure.

And what happened? No surprise. It was really high.  They all got excited.

Sent me home with a blood pressure device. Told me I had a possible problem.

Well you do, you know. Yes. I have a problem, it’s just not that one.

Now I have to strap this gadget to my limb once a day and they’ll let me know what they’re gonna do with me.

Saint Paul just sits downstairs and smokes, and says I told you so.