GETTING SQUEAMISH

A photo from several years back

So here’s the news, Bernie, I tell Bernie at breakfast after returning home 9 hours earlier from our retreat with the Native Americans. The doctor’s office called me when I was out West and said to me that the biopsy of the stuff they removed from your nose revealed squamous cell carcinoma.

Squeamish? asks Bernie, looking down at his eggs.

Squamous, Bernie, squamous.

Does that mean you won’t be with us much longer? inquires Stanley from his perch on the rug.

Don’t be silly, I tell him. Then I turn to Bernie. As long as we take care of it it’ll be fine. We’ll get a call soon scheduling a Mohs surgery procedure in Springfield.

Moe? You mean like from the Three Stooges? We’re doing Moe’s procedure?

No, not that Moe. Moh with an h. What they do is they sedate you locally–

Locally, as in Springfield?

No, locally as in around your nose. They take off layers of tissue, biopsy it on the spot, and they keep on taking tissue off till what they remove shows no cancerous cells at all.

To play it safe maybe I should just tell them to take off my nose.

What happens if they keep on taking tissue off till there no nose left, wonders Stanley.

No one knows, I reply. What I can’t figure, Bernie, is how you get those things? You’ve been indoors for so long you must have forgotten what the sun looks like. Speaking of which, are you looking at the eclipse tomorrow?

It’ll make me squeamish.

I keep on encouraging you to go outside and sit at our picnic table which has a nice big umbrella, and you stay indoors.

It’s true, before my stroke I liked to sit outdoors and smoke my cigar. I was much healthier then.

You had more flesh on you, that’s for sure, says Stanley enviously.

I turn to him. And why aren’t you eating? Are you on a hunger strike?

What’s that?

That’s when someone doesn’t eat as a protest.

I’m protesting just getting dog food.

And here I thought you were sick and I’m making you chicken soup on the stove. You probably planned it all along.

Heh heh heh, says Stanley, licking his chops.

It sounds like you guys really missed me.

You did fix the coffee machine first thing this morning, reflects Bernie. It sounds like you had a big adventure out West. It must have been a great retreat.

I missed you, I tell him.

One day one day.

One day what, Bernie?

I’ll get in the saddle again, he sings.

You don’t have to get on the saddle. You don’t have to lead or worry about folks or programs or money, or anything like that.

Yeah, but I want to do things with you, he says