By The Time You Finish Reading This You’ll Wish You Had A Torn Meniscus Too

You don’t always get choices about what happens to you in life. Things happen. Sometimes that thing is that you tear your meniscus and it turns into a dragged-out affair in which you take way too much ibuprofen and eventually have to walk with a cane. All because the insurance company seems to prefer that you live with the pain for several months before you are permitted to have the surgery that will fix it. Because that is how they roll. 

And some people – I feel kind of bad for these people – might believe that having to use a cane is bad news all around. How old am I, anyway? they might think. Or, oh I just wish this pain would go away and I could walk normally again! This is a shame, because all they really need to do is to realize that there is such a thing as a “Stiletto Rapier Cane.” Then, instead of feeling elderly-ish and sad when they’re walking down the street, they can feel more like a movie villain with a deadly walking stick. The product description of the “Stiletto Rapier Cane” boasts that it makes “walking a pleasure and defending yourself truly possible.” As I hobble down any given street, leaning on my entirely average cane, I project an aura that says, “Go ahead, try to take my purse. Try to even speak to me, because I feel rather introverted today and there is a lethal weapon inside this cane with which I will not hesitate to take your right arm off.” 

Actually now I see that the “Stiletto Rapier Cane” has been discontinued. No matter. The website has a whole category called “Sword Canes,” and the fact that such a thing exists is really all you need to know. I was never suggesting you actually buy one. Please don’t. Just adopt the attitude. Like me. 

This is what they call the bright side. 

Next time I think I’ll pick one like this.

Life got even better for me after I finally had the surgery and was released from the hospital with an actual walker. They were going to give me crutches but then they saw my tremendously unstable gait and decided a walker would be much easier. The nurse seemed surprised that I didn’t protest. “People your age generally don’t want the walker,” she said. Apparently when you are 46 like me, you are supposed to want crutches because they give a more youthful appearance. “Oh yeah? Well, whatevs,” I told her, to show how young I really am.  

I am considering buying a basket for the front of the walker and using it forever. Imagine having something to lean on, everywhere you go. You’re crossing the parking lot to visit your dad at the nursing home and you feel like you need a break sometimes, am I right? And then, even better, you get to actually go in to the nursing home — with a walker! Now you can feel like one of the gang. No more worries about not fitting in. It’s like being in eighth grade and finally getting your ears pierced when all your friends have had earrings for years. Fabulous. 

Today I am going to unwrap the bandage from my knee and I’m telling you, it will be like taking off a painful pair of shoes after a long night at a wedding of people you don’t particularly like. It will be so wonderful that I may actually cry, and then I will take some more of my pain pills and point at things I need my kids to bring to me. “My Kindle,” I’ll say. “It’s right over there… can you get it? Oh, and while you’re up, I could probably use the ice pack too.” 

Honestly, though. I mean, if I’m being perfectly honest, I guess I’m not really anxious to tear my other meniscus. I’ll be glad to put this minor injury – because it is truly quite minor, in the grand scheme of things – behind me. But if I do end up in this situation again, I will know how to look on the bright side. Because as I tell people all the time, there is always a goddamned bright side. 


Unless You’re The Fonz, Please Don’t Use A Toilet As Your Office

Once you reach a certain age, I think it’s around forty, you start to hear people talk a lot about “the old days.” Things were so much better then, according to the people who talk about it. They say things like, we didn’t come in until the streetlights came on and we had discipline and no one gave me a trophy even when I won that Presidential thing in gym class! And so on.

These people are a tiny bit obnoxious, if you want to know my opinion. I mean, times change. The world changes. Progress is made and some things get better at the same time as other things get stupider. When today’s children reach this ‘certain age,’ they’ll be saying things like, “I’m so glad there was no teleporting when was in high school,” or whatever. This is just the way it goes and on the whole, I’m sticking with the opinion that progress is inevitable and also generally good-ish.

However. There is actually one thing I really do miss about the glorious era that was the 1970’s and 80’s, which is that we did not talk on telephones while we were using a toilet. Ever. Granted, this is because the phone cord typically did not reach the bathroom, especially in office buildings, so we couldn’t. Possibly if we had the option, we too would have forgot our manners and went crazy with the freedom. Possibly. But I doubt it.

Not to brag, but I use a lot of public restrooms. This isn’t some kind of weird fetish thing. I’m pretty sure that anyone who has a job outside the home uses public restrooms on the regular. This makes it pretty difficult to avoid occasionally peeing while someone else is shouting into their cell phone like Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street. By the way, I really disliked that movie. I think the drug-fueled nature of the whole thing just brought me down. In the end I didn’t just want Leo DiCaprio in prison, I actually wanted to end his life with my own hands in some very gruesome manner. And I don’t mean the character he played, I mean Leo DiCaprio himself, for having accepted such a sleazy, sickening role and then making matters worse by playing it so well.

Even so, I can honestly tell you that The Wolf of Wall Street did not chill me to the core quite as thoroughly as the sound of a cell phone conversation in a public shitter. “Shitter” being what my dad would call it, not me. Seriously. I think the worst thing a person can do in life, worse even than feeling apathetic toward our current government situation or not limiting a child’s screen time, is to engage in a telephone conversation while simultaneously engaging in emptying one’s bladder (or oh God, producing a bowel movement) in a public restroom.

Just yesterday I had a quick stop in the lobby restroom of the William Penn Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh. While there, I got to overhear a woman discussing the promotion she recently did not get. She talked and peed as if that’s just what you’re supposed to do. It wasn’t even one of those quiet pees where the stream hits the side of the bowl very delicately and then goes gently off into that good night, or whatever the quote is. This was full-volume, waterfall pee. Then she flushed. There is no quiet flushing no matter what kind of high-tech plumbing you’ve invested in. The woman was confused about why she hadn’t gotten the promotion. I was not.

None of this is to say that all of this is A-OK if done in the privacy of one’s home; it’s really sort of unacceptable no matter where you are. The only reason I can give you a pass when you’re at home is because at least then, I don’t have to witness it. Assuming I am not the unlucky person on the other end of the line.

To sum up: I think the rules are pretty simple in life. Be kind. Don’t text and drive. Don’t talk and excrete waste from your body. I wish we could make this a law but I’m pretty sure it would never fly. The best I can do is what I’m doing here: asking the 7 or 8 people who read what I write to set an example. Be silent types in the women’s or men’s rooms. We’ll be starting small, but progress is progress and eventually I bet we can change the world.

Because, as I mentioned, change is good. Ish.


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