Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Hymn to Sunny Jim

If you were a dog you’d be a glossy golden retriever, but smart like a border collie, and loyal like a Lab, and cheerful like a Doodle. A big dog, with a loose-limbed lope. Happy-go-lucky and home-loving but with a muzzle sniffing for adventure and a wet lick for every friend.

What I can’t quite picture is you as a sick dog, with your head hung low, or even as a human being sick as a dog. (Where did that expression come from?) To me, you’ll always be a pup, gamboling—and gambling—through life. 

Monday, September 5, 2016

It takes all colors

Toeing the (nipple) line

The other day in yoga class, the teacher gave an instruction with a reference point that I’ve heard before and that always flummoxes me for a moment: the “nipple line,” as in “Place your hands [or whatever] at the ‘nipple line.’” 

Where did my nipples used to be? I ask myself. It’s been over 10 years since they were removed, along with the rest of my breast tissue, so the memory of their precise location has grown a bit vague.

The first time I heard this reference, I thought of it as peculiarly female-oriented, until I reminded myself that men have nipples, they just don’t have breasts. And then, on further reflection, I realized that it was actually more male-oriented than female-oriented since a woman’s nipple line changes with time. Indeed, my nipple line had certainly been traveling toward my waist before it disappeared entirely.

I’m thinking of writing a note to the Iyengars, who believe in stringent precision, asking them to possibly modify this kind of instruction, so that fools like me can stop getting lost in the weeds en route to their downward dogs.

Getting older, falling apart

Cars and people—same same. When Other and I moved to New York, we had an old Dodge Dart that we parked on the streets. Slowly the peripherals began to disappear in the night. The side-view mirror, the hubcaps, the gas cap. But its rebuilt engine remained strong. And weirdly, to us, no one stole the vanity license plate, which read Objet (objet d’art, get it?).

Four decades later, I’m suffering the same fate. My breasts, my lymph nodes, and bits of my face and back are scattered in pathology labs around the city. There seem to be more strands parked in my hairbrush than on my head some days. And now there’s talk of amputating a deformed toe—easier to take the toe than rebuild the entire foot, I’m told, especially in a person of my age. 

Pretty soon I’ll be told that it’s cheaper to buy a new body than to keep fixing the old one.