October 2007


Found in my web surfings, from http://www.nwanews.com/eyeworm/testimonial_07.htm

It was three years ago, and I was as bored as I was scared. The specialist my doctor sent me to had finished running a battery of tests, and I was waiting in the waiting room to hear back from the doctor. He had a Russian accent that was a little to thick for me to understand him more than 99% of the time. His last name ended in a “yanovich” or “danovich” or something. The afternoon was quickly heading toward evening, and still no word. Oh yeah, and I was at the doctor because of some ocular discomfort. It started a week or so ago, some mild itching that I associated with getting high and tried to cure with Visene. Not only didn’t that work, but then my vision started getting blurry and wiggy, and I went to the doctor. The doctor sent me to Yanodanovich, which gets us to this point in the story. The nurse enters the waiting room and tells me that Yanodanovich is ready to see me.
In the examination room, Yanodanovich tells me that I may have Retinoblastoma. That sounds awful, I think. “What is Retinoblastoma,” I ask. “Eye cancer,” says Yanodanovich happily, once again proving that Russian doctors have a bedside manner that’s lacking something important – I like to call it compassion. “It’s okay,” he says, we run more tests. Followed by more waiting. I call my friends and family to tell them I love them. I let them know that I may be dying. I cry a lot, and wonder if the tears are going to exacerbate the condition, maybe speed up the process of my eye cancer’s metastasis.

It doesn’t. Because the tests show that I don’t, in fact, have Yanodanovich’s cheery Retinoblastoma. I have hookworms. In my eye. “How did I get hookworms in my eye?” I ask, curious as to how I may have gotten hookworms in my eye. “Hookworm larvae,” Yanodanovich says, “from poop. Have you been in contact with poop?”

Well, of course. I’m alive, and as a rule, things that are alive poop … “I’ve been in contact with my poop,” I say, giddy that I don’t have cancer, horrified that I have HOOKWORMS LIVING IN MY EYE. My left eye. It was my favorite. “But, you know, I don’t touch the poop or anything. I use toilet paper. But then I wash my hands after, so…”

Yanodanovich looks at me like I’m retarded. And I do feel pretty dumb at this juncture in my life. “Not your poop,” he says, “dog poop, cat poop, do you play?”
No I don’t. And I tell him as much. “No worry, he says, hookworm larvae are very small. Sticky. You get them on your hands anywhere, you put them in your eye …” He shakes his finger at me. “You don’t put your hands in your eye anymore, do you?” No. I don’t. So they gave me medicine that would kill the hookworms hatching and hanging around in my eye. They couldn’t do anything about the scarring on my cornea, where the hookworms had burrowed into my eye meat, but blurry vision in one eye trumps cancer any day of the week. I wash my hands a lot more, now, too. And I never, ever touch my face unless my hands have been washed and scrubbed in scalding water. I wash my hands a lot now. So should you.

My jeans were leaching water from the damp earth the way a sponge absorbs … water. We sat at the edge of Speedway Meadows, and as I realized my butt was wet and getting wetter, Jeff Tweedy began to play. I glanced over to my cohort, Peter*, who was paying quite a bit more attention to Jeff Tweedy’s music. He was sitting on his trusted brown hoodie. “Peter,” I said, “you get smarter every time I hang out with you,” which is when he handed me a pound of Rainier Ale, expertly encased in can of sickly green. Way to prove how smart you are, Peter.

I slipped a piece of cardboard from my backpack (that’s right, I carry cardboard with me wherever I go, because why wouldn’t you want cardboard when you need it?) and sat on its corrugated goodness. The stage and meadow were bathed in the glow of the not-yet setting sun, and the complexion of the hipsters in front of me were made smooth by the sun’s kind rays. One of them had a skateboard, which is where he was sitting. Jeff Tweedy played on, and I complimented the Hip-Boarder* on his massively healthy pit-bull. He had the chance to affirm my appreciation of his pet’s physique and demeanor, but then his friend had to leave. I hadn’t noticed her before, as she was sitting on the very edge of their hipster group. She was suddenly lovely, like the girl who lived next door that you haven’t seen in ages, because after college, you moved out of your folks’ house, moved and moved again, and you haven’t been home for a holiday in a while. You go to your aunt’s for Thanksgivings in Texas, and to Grandma’s for Jewish Christmases in Baltimore, and it’s gotten so you forgot that teensy-weensy crush you had on her in middle school. And then it happens. You see her again after – can it be – 7 years now? Where did your life go while she was becoming so radiant, her hips like the bell of an hourglass, skin that you just know would be so soft beneath your fingers … waving her hands at the Hip-Boarder to get up and hug her goodbye, He’s so aloof, that he waves his hands at her to bend over and hug him. This piques my interest quite more than plenty, let me tell you what. “C’mon, Hip-Boarder, get up and hug me,” and he bounces up from his perch on the skateboard, which is what I would have done, had Little Miss Lovely* begged me to put my arms around her.

The Hip-Boarder’s vacant skateboard attracted a toddler in a lavender fleece, her soft-soled suede slip-ons making a barely-audible shhh-shhh that went nicely with whatever song the illustrious Mr. Tweedy was playing at the time. Obviously, I have enough room in my memory for some details but not others. As Hip-Boarder and Little Miss Lovely broke their embrace, The Coolest Little Girl in the Entire World* began to ollie the grass next to the skateboard. Her perfect, San Francisco, fleece-wearing family looked on, beaming pride, and love, and liberal family values all over the place. There was a smattering of clapping, because after all, we were witnessing the antics of The Coolest Little Girl in the Entire World. Or maybe Jeff Tweedy finished playing a song. I know who I was clapping for. The Coolest Little Girl in the Entire World moved on, to ollie the ground by her father’s leg, and then the patch of dirt next to her grandmother’s shoe. Have you noticed the hot grandmothers that live here? I’m looking forward to turning 60 so I can join that dating pool. The Fleece Family Frisco* got ready to leave when it started getting chillier. Surprisingly Sexy Grandma* swung a backpack baby carrier over her shoulders that looked like she could go rock climbing with the littlest member of the Fleece Family Frisco securely fastened to her back, which is a witticism I promptly shared with Peter. “She probably did,” he says, handing me another adequately delicious pound of Rainier Ale. Man, he’s smart. And then he’s laughing a little too hard for the caliber of the joke. Why’s Peter laughing, I asked myself. It’s not that funny.

What was that funny was the short, thick, oily, extensively coiffed newscaster, so slick and out of place standing among all of us sitting listening to music, drinking our Rainier, and enjoying a relaxing evening. And that’s all, really. I could talk about how his hair was oh-so-heavy and glistening with pomade, how his Magnum P.I. mustache swayed subtly in the wind, or how powdered, starched and just so short he was. I won’t, though. I’ve shared too much already. If you’re bored some night, round evening news-time, flip on ABC-7, won’t you? You’ll know who I’m talking about when you know who I’m talking about. That’s the way it works sometimes. You have to earn the funny.

And then someone walked by, very nearly stepping on my pound of ale. I looked down and steadied the can, then glanced up at the tall, athletic blond striding away. Did a double take. Random College Friend I had Secret Lust for my Junior Year*? No, but the face is familiar. Ex-girlfriend’s Smoking Hot Triathletic Ex-roommate*? Maybe. Whatever. I immediately nearly get hit in the face by a barely-husky kid’s Razor handgrips that he’s swinging around like he’s not swinging around something made almost entirely of metal. That’s the kind of thing (impingement of my personal safety) that usually sets me off into a tirade, but nope, not this day. I had music to listen to, a quarter pound of ale left to drink, friends to meet up with, and a bike to ride when it got to be time to go. I love my San Francisco. Thank you, Warren Hellman, for a wonderful end to a largely lackluster week.