bedside manner

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The last time I saw my shoulder's surgeon, I was a few days post-op. He saw me carrying my phone with my slinged arm, and he yelled at me. That was too much weight. He'd cautioned me previously that my surgery had a very high failure rate, as high as 60%, and he was most displeased. You can imagine our mutual pessimism when three weeks later, someone collided with my car head-on, totaling both cars. "I wonder what my odds are now?" I thought while still underneath my deployed airbag.

Progress in PT has been slow but steady, and I now have almost my full range of motion back. When I saw my surgeon last week and lifted my arm, the man could not hide his surprise. "Your progress's really superb," he said more than once. This was good to hear, but clearly, he'd already placed me in his loss column. Might want to work on that poker face, doc.

perfect storm

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Yesterday's Uber driver touched almost every quadrant of awfulness. He was old, drove slowly and dangerously, ignored my directions, asked me what I do for a living, messed with his phone while driving in traffic, and, God help me, listened to AM talk radio. If he'd been a foreigner wanting to practice his English on me, he would have been bloody perfect.

"What can he do better?" the app asked after my rating.


mr. excitement

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"So what did you do over the weekend?" asks my physical therapist every Tuesday as he's massaging my arm.

My mind is invariably blank. "I dunno. Probably worked a little."

"Got big plans for the weekend?" he'll ask on Friday, having learned absolutely nothing.

Is it rude to put on headphones during PT?


I've tried, Cooterville. I've tried every pizza ya got, and I haven't finished one yet.

The west coast is pizza-challenged in general, so my expectations are low, but this is plain dire. Clue #1 is invariably the pizzas I do not order. Sure, there's the pepperoni and sausage thin crust that will soon splatter the floor of the dumpster outside, but beneath that on the menu are the telltale signs that the owners do, in fact, hate pizza. I don't want to see the words "feta" or "reduction" or, god help me, arugula. Fucking arugula. These are now my coal-mine canaries.

suicide is painless

Yesterday, I passed a gigantic Chevy pickup with almost-as-gigantic twin 'Murican flags flapping in its bed, right behind the NRA sticker. The driver, Cooter P. McNugget, cheerfully gave me the finger when we made eye contact. This edgy badass was adorned with an unkempt foot-long beard, undeniably diseased cowboy hat, and gas station knockoff aviators. As he drove toward the house I'd just left, I wondered if I'd remembered to set the alarm. Nevertheless, of the people I encountered yesterday, he was easily my favorite.

I was twice visited by my least favorite species, the Desperately Lonely Contractor.

As the painting estimator entered Hour 2 of his life story, I had long since stopped contributing words to the conversation, lest I again say something that would inspire a tangent. "Uh huh," I'd grunt.

"Yep. Say, do you know the etytomology of the expression uh huh? It's as uninteresting as the following anecdote is pointless and rambling."

My thoughts turned to those coyotes that chew their own legs off to free themselves from a trap. Lucky coyotes.

reader mail: the bat

Elephantine Stank troll Marta asks if I still sleep next to a baseball bat in my new home. Yep. The tape unraveled during the last move, but it's otherwise unbloodied. Now, one might ask, how could I swing it with only my left arm? Badly and inaccurately. I'd probably club my own head. Hopefully on my way down I'd fall on my assailant's foot or something.