Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I Guess That's It, Then

The time has come. I go in for prostate cancer surgery tomorrow.

My doctor, who recently got his license back, says it'll be a breeze. A six-hour breeze.

I've always wondered why they have you get to the hospital at six o'clock in the morning the day of your surgery. I'm not worried about me getting there. I just hope the doctor got plenty of rest the night before. I don't want any dozing off while both his hands are inside me tearing my guts out.

He explained the surgery to me. It's called a robotic process and I wasn't kidding about the doctor getting his license back. It's the one he needs to do this type of surgery.

When I signed my pre-op papers the lady told me he was doing robotic surgeries that day. Good. I'm not the first.

The process involves six or seven "ports" in my abdomen, each about a half-inch long. Then they put tubes in and inflate my abdominal cavity so they can access my prostate. They insert a camera through a "port" just above my navel so they can see what they're doing. In Glorious Color. This port, the doctor told me, will also be the hole they extract my prostate through. I'm assuming they remove the camera first.

They also will "insert" the catheter while I'm under anesthesia. I'm going to ask them to take it out the same way.

I'm not worried about the surgery at all. If I live, I know where I am. If I die, I know where I'm going. And there will only be two types of people at my funeral when I do go. One group to see if there's a party, and one group to make sure I'm really dead.

The entire "procedure" will only cost around $40,000. Forty Thousand Dollars. FORTY. THOUSAND. DOLLARS.

Is the government offering a prostate bailout?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I Love Waffle House

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

The recent escape of Christopher Daniel “Little Houdini” Gay from handcuffs and leg shackles in a cop car in Kennesaw may have surprised folks. But the location he chose should have been expected: a Waffle House parking lot.

Why is it always Waffle House? Maybe we just pay more attention to a news story when there’s a Waffle House angle, like a punch line hanging there, waiting to be delivered. Or maybe unusual events just gravitate toward the Norcross-based chain of diners.

“Some of the crazier stuff happens because we’re open 24 hours,” said Pat Warner, Waffle House spokesperson. “That’s part of the fun for our customers.”

Here’s a trip down memory lane, scattered, covered and smothered.

March 1999: Tonda Dickerson, a WH waitress in Montgomery, Ala., gets a lottery ticket as a tip. She wins $10 million. Four co-workers sue, saying they had a verbal agreement to split any lottery winnings. Courts finally decide Dickerson gets to keep all the money.

September 2002: Jay-Z takes Beyonce out to dinner at 3 a.m. following her birthday party to the WH on Piedmont Road.

April 2003: The late Lawrence Clark requests his memorial service be held at his favorite WH on Highway 129 near Gainesville. About 40 people, many of them employees, attend, with Clark’s ashes in an urn on the hood of a car in the parking lot. As a customer, says manager T.J. Prater, Clark “wasn’t too picky. He loved his eggs.”

March 2007: Two women get in a fight in a WH in Richmond, Ky. When police arrive, four men at the counter leave during the confusion, not paying their $100 tab. Police chase the men at speeds reaching 100 mph, and the men finally crash into a pole and are arrested. No word on how four people, even drunk, can spend $100 in a WH.

April 2008: A 20-year-old Atlanta man barricades himself inside the men’s room at WH on Northside Drive, floods the bathroom and goes on a rampage. When police get the door open they find him naked and holding the toilet paper dispenser. He has to be maced, then sedated, to get him out.

July 2008: WH employees George “Bubba” Mathis and Pamela Christian are married at the WH in Dacula. Actually, they exchange vows under a tree next to the parking lot. But they go inside for their wedding cake.

October 2008: Kid Rock’s tour bus stops at a WH in Atlanta, and an exchange of words with a customer ends up in a fight that spills into the parking lot. Rock pleads no contest to battery, ends up signing autographs at WH in Duluth, raising $12,000 in donations for charity.

I love Waffle House.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Mama Knows

I grew up in Mayberry. A town where everybody knew everybody else. You went to school and church with them, shopped with them, played with them, and were pretty much involved in their lives, for better or worse. When I was young and wanted to call my dad at work, I'd pick up the phone and tell Miss Sara, "I want my daddy." She knew who I was talking about and would connect me to "the Ford place", the way everyone in town referred to J. R. Smith Motor Company.

I'm not making this up.

Cokes at the Ford Place were six cents for a six-and-a-half ounce bottle, and you put your money in--exact change--and pushed a lever to turn the track so your Coke showed up behind the door you opened to get it out. It was, as they advertise today yet don't deliver, Ice Cold. There was nothing then, and certainly nothing now, like a Coke in that contoured bottle. In fourth grade I was amazed as the rest of my class when Howard Ethington, pastor of the First Baptist Church (the "town church"), showed us an artifact from his recent trip to Israel. A six-and-a-half ounce bottle of Coke with Hebrew lettering on the outside. I could now go to the Promised Land in peace. They had Cokes there.

(Know who Fred Lowery is? I do. He's the guy who whistled the "Andy Griffith Show" theme song. Know what the name of the song is? I do. "Down By The Fishin' Hole". Know the lyrics? I don't. But I know there are some. Mr. Lowery came to my school when I was in third grade and whistled the song. He was almost the highlight of the year, but kissing Kim Keadle took first place.)

As a result of the intertwined relationships my family had with every other family in town, I couldn't do anything--ANYTHING--without my parents finding out sooner or later.

I was walking to town one day with my friend Steve, picking up rocks and throwing them at street signs as I went. When I got home, a police car was in my yard. It was Steve's brother-in-law, Larry, who always played "bad cop". (Opie Pitts was the "good cop." Tubby Usery, the police chief, aptly named for his girth, was our town's Andy Taylor.) Larry said someone on Carleeta Street had called the police and said two boys were tearing up stop signs, and he knew it had to be us because she said there was one tall one and one short chunky one. I was the tall one.

Anytime I got into trouble, the one question I dreaded (and was always asked) was "What would your Mama think?" Apparently it didn't matter what my dad thought, only Mama.

I could go on and on about life in a small town, and I will, just not now. There's something more important to talk about today.

I believe Facebook is the new Mayberry. You'll see the connection shortly.

I got an email from a dear friend today mentioning that my wife's profile was more interesting than my blog. That can only mean one thing: he's seen her Facebook account.

My wife is a very young middle-aged beauty. I'm just not sure she needs to be on Facebook. Her older sister is, a sixty-year-old friend of mine is, older friends of ours are. I don't get it.

I've looked at her "page" a few times. When she first started it, my son said something like the end of the world was near, because his mom had a Facebook account. I've seen some pictures of our college friends on there. It's not pretty. They did not age well, whereas my wife and I, on the other hand, look just like we did thirty years ago. Maybe better.

I'm not sure I want everybody--or anybody--from my recent or distant past to know all the things you can find out on Facebook. On the other hand, I kinda like the idea that I can find out pretty much whatever I want to know about anyone I'd like to find. When I hear about some of the stuff that's on there, I wonder, does their Mama know?

If knowledge is power, then Facebook is an atomic bomb.

I'm scared my mama will find out about Facebook and get an account. She's eighty-one years old, looks sixty, drives like she's in a NASCAR race, and is feisty like a wildcat.

I'm not putting ANYTHING on Facebook. I don't want Mama to know.