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Claudine Jones


This month by comparison to last has been a literal walk. Fitbit & I choose random routes & off we go—no fussing with heart rates—we are all about movement. Goin' to get my 250! I announce & his nibs may or may not hear me, doesn't matter. I'm a walkin' machine. Good pace, slight thigh burn, no stopping—phone app logging exercise. I hit pause if a friend shows up on the trail; resume & we're back. No photos of cute plants or sunsets or clouds; not adept at phone cameras anyway.

And life moves. Colleagues & acquaintances & neighbors, & mail as well, inquire after us, & we respond as able. 


I'm told by his nibs that I'm such a good care-giver, a sweetie, job well done & I deserve thanks. I merit a nice lunch, not at a hospital cafeteria, at a restaurant for a change. Yet...foibles are hard to absorb for me even with rock-hard thighs. I will tell you what ensued.

In these 30 some odd years together we have left quite the trail of restaurants in the greater Bay Area, making up for the years I spent with a count so low as to be almost non-existent. This has been revelatory; one guy's distrust displaced with another guy's joy. One pocket-book locked, the other one unfastened in anticipation of pay for honest labor in kitchen & dining room.  The stories we still tell about the lows & highs—worst spaghetti EVER or the rice pudding that you could bounce your spoon off, or that Chinese Broccoli with Special Sauce & Whole Fish with Ginger & Onion, at a place we returned to that's now long
gone...or the dive that burned to the ground, where we had Lamb Shank with Lima Bean Rice to die for.

Lately, I will admit that I've gotten sore—omg the privileged—over having to pick & choose which movie, which of the unwatched Netflix discs—not of my choosing in the first place, nooo, only some film randomly commented on as the trailers whiz by o that might be interesting & promptly forgotten (by me) or in this case which restaurant. I did say that I was in the mood to be surprised since this was a kind of celebratory lunch. And of course the aggregation of restaurant reviews going back a decade will actually see some use, since while certain people disdain piles of paper, others find them comforting, so they remain.

He can't drive yet of course, so I'll be the chauffeur & he'll navigate; I can't go blind-fold (ha!) but I can sort of pretend.  We head toward downtown, where I used to work before retirement. This is exciting! Very familiar territory...except, no. It's not familiar. It is...WTBF? The streets on the main artery toward Broadway have been tarted up to such magnitude that they are almost unrecognizable; I dimly recall that this was in the works for some time—definitely a long-term nod toward welcoming more bicycle traffic & easing access to buses, but Holy Crap. Everything looks foreign. Cars parked in the middle of the
street, admittance to right lane forbidden, striping for bicycles with bold Yellow & Blue & Gray.

He can't walk far, so I have to somehow find this address, drop him off—in the middle of the street?— ignore my hunger pangs, go find a nightmare place to park, walk all the way back...but there he is in front of the joint, looking abashed. They don't have ox-tail for lunch, only dinner.

The ride back home is not pleasant.  Turns out we both want to cry, but neither of us do.  I'm having what I would describe as a form of ptsd: I can't get Lennie Bernstein's Are You Too Proud to Serve Your Friends an Ox-Tail Stew  out of my head; a kind of awful letdown descends that is totally out of proportion with the actual event—since we are talking about lunch after all, not mass murder—& my feelings almost out of control. The streets are so welcoming to alternative transportation! Who the fuck designed this? What kind of person gives somebody grief over a mix-up of menu items? What kind of person doesn't check first before taking somebody out to lunch? How can food be that big a deal? We can go home & have a sandwich & then go back tonight when they have the full menu. How can I get past wanting to scream & kick my heels?

Next to me the phone rings & in the next room with the visiting PT, his nibs picks up before I can get to it—from the caller-ID it's not for me so why do I bother? Because I am still set on sub-conscious do-everything default & it's wearing on both of
us. He doesn't want it any more than I do, yet even at the point where he could just leave it to me & be fully engaged with what the PT is saying, something inside him doesn't want not to be the voice on the line when they call from the clinic or hospital to transmit another piece of the medical jigsaw puzzle his life has become.

It's somehow comforting to hear them in the other room chatting away; I can't make out what they're saying since I have not been wearing my hearing aids for...oh, I don't know...since this whole thing started, maybe going on two months? The batteries are dead by now, they die just sitting there even if you open the little clip & let them breathe. Nope, next time you put them in you get ten minutes & then bingbingbing Bing bingbingbing Bing they're dead-dead-deadski.

Oh wait! I think I've just been summoned to demonstrate lymph drainage; apparently PT is not allowed  to do massage (rules!), but I've been doing it for a while in the capacity of reflexologist & his left foot is quite swollen, so there it is. Why is not a particularly answerable nor useful question, even for the
curious, therefore we will assume that it is something we don't want & ask it politely to leave. Very politely.

Now I'm beginning to feel the stirrings of hunger; since last week's abortive lunch out was also Wednesday, we'll designate it (probably temporarily) Lunch-Out Day.

His nibs & PT are out for a walk up & down the sidewalk, testing progress, in safe hands. When they get back, PT will be on her way, content with the results.

Then my hunger will be assuaged.

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Actor/Singer/Dancer Claudine Jones has worked steadily in Bay Area joints for a number of decades.
She writes a monthly column and is
a Senior Writer for Scene4.
For more of her commentary and articles, check the Archives.

©2016 Claudine Jones
©2016 Publication Scene4 Magazine




July 2016

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