Wednesday, December 5, 2007


The day my father was transferred to his new nursing home I was almost killed.

That morning I had gone to USC University Hospital to see that John made it safely into the ambulance that would whisk him across town to where my mother was waiting at Kindred Long Term Acute Care. Later, I met my friend Jeff for lunch at a tedious hipster-themed diner in my neighborhood called Fred’s 62. (They do make a pretty decent tuna melt, I have to admit.)

I ordered a sandwich and my phone rang. It was Trudy and she sounded apprehensive. “Your father wants to know where you are.” I told her I thought we’d agreed I would see him off at USC in the morning and then go visit him at the nursing home the next day. “Oh…. OK... Well, he wants to talk to you.” She held the phone to his ear and he asked me when I was coming. I reminded him that I’d be there tomorrow and asked him how the place was. “Raunchy.” If John noticed his surroundings, they had to be bad. “Put Mom on.” Trudy admitted the place was, “a little dirty.” I reminded her that she had visited Kindred and deemed it, “very nice.” She replied, “Well… the lobby is nice.” “Didn’t you look at the rooms when you checked the place out?” “I can't talk now. I’ll have to call you later.”

I choked down my meal and absentmindedly carried on a conversation while I stewed over this one. After lunch, Jeff and I decided to walk to the bookstore a few doors down. As we were crossing the street to put money in his meter, an SUV stopped to let us pass. We continued walking when suddenly there was a loud squealing of tires. Jeff and I grabbed each other and did that geeky move where you lift one knee up to your chest, hunch up your shoulders and squint. Inches away from where we cowered mid-crosswalk was a teenage boy in a sports car, talking animatedly on his cell phone. He didn’t stop conversing, nor did he look over at us, as he lifted the one hand he had on the steering wheel to give an unconcerned wave, like, “It’s cool. I see you.”

That was all I needed. “You fucking piece of shit!! Get off your mother fucking cell phone, you fucking asshole!!! Fuck you!!!!” I was becoming redundant, so Jeff pulled me onto the opposite curb. He hugged me, asked me if I was OK, and said something about how scary that was. I answered with, “I could have killed that asshole!” (I also may have, regrettably, made a disparaging remark about young Armenian hoodlums and their reckless driving. Mea Culpa.) Jeff reminded me that I could not have killed him; he could have killed us, by hurtling a ton of metal in our direction at 60 miles an hour. Just then two lanky, effete looking men outfitted in black denim, accented with heavy chains, walked by us. I couldn’t tell whether his voice was sympathetic or mocking when one of them slowly shook his scraggly raven locks and cooed softly, “He was on his cell phone.”

In retrospect, my guess is mocking.

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