You Asked

A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster

I am sure you must know that ‘How are you?’ ‘What’s happening?’ and ‘How are you doing?’ are not questions but simply greetings. Unfortunately some people when you ask them ‘What’s up?’ tell you, but not me!

I was walking down Mississaga Street the other day and I met a guy I hadn’t seen since high school. We looked at each other for a moment, both trying to decide if it was someone we knew from a long time ago, and I guess we both realized at the same time that it was.

The first thing he said was ‘Dago*, how are you?’ and of course I said ’Okay I guess considering all I’ve gone through. You already know I had my tonsils out on the kitchen table when I was six and an appendectomy at East General Hospital, Dr. Knapp was the surgeon as I recall.  That was when I was eleven. Of course I told you that when we first met in Grade 9. Other than those medical emergencies everything was fine in my life until 1986 when I had a triple bypass at Toronto General. I’ve forgotten the surgeon’s name but if I come across it I will call you. The surgery went well for 16 years but in 2012 my arteries clogged up once again and I had to have another bypass, this time at Southlake Hospital in Newmarket. I can’t remember that surgeon’s name either but I remember she was Chinese and used chopsticks.

In 2013 I thought I had a hernia but it turned out my underwear was too tight. Later I realized I was wearing my wife’s. Until that day we kept them in the same drawer. Last week I had a cold, you know runny nose, a bit of a cough too, but today I’m feeling much better. I have an appointment with my cardiologist coming up in a month or two and another colonoscopy is being scheduled. That’s the one where you have to drink some dreadful concoction and within minutes you are sitting on the john and… ‘

Suddenly his eyes glassed over and he said, ‘Omigod, I forgot. I’m supposed to pick up my wife.’ and took off on the dead run. That was too bad because I wanted to tell him about a root canal I had a couple of years ago and about the time I ran over my dentures with the car. That was funny, expensive, but funny nevertheless. I would have followed him but he cut through Mariposa Market and I lost him in the morning coffee crowd.        

To be honest the whole thing had become awkward, but it was his fault; he never should have asked me how I was.

But as I was saying, just meeting someone is not an opportunity to list all your ills, failed love affairs (unless the details are really juicy and doesn’t involve the wife of the guy you are talking to) or your financial woes. If you are looking for a co-signer you might want to slip that into the conversation gradually.

We all know people who tell you their life history any chance they get and nine times out of ten it’s not something you want to know – especially if you met them yesterday and they had already rhymed off their list of ailments and not a hell of a lot could have happened in the last 24 hours. I usually pretend to wave at someone across the street and quietly slip away. Unless, of course, their greeting is “I would like to talk to you about Jesus.” then I fake an epileptic seizure and hit 911 on my cell phone.

*Oh yes, the nickname ‘Dago’. There were three of us upstanding chaps cruising around in my Dad’s ‘53 Ford and saw four teenage girls thumbing a ride to Bala. Needless to say, off we went (a bit crowded but not too unpleasant). One of the girls said she liked Italian guys. I said ‘You will like me, my name is Jimmy Giannetto. The only Italian name I knew was Giannetto who owned a fruit market on the main street in Midland. I was Dago for years.

Oh, about the Bala business, we all struck out. Maybe I shouldn’t have told them my uncle was Chef Boyardee.

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