Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Snarkness on the Edge of Town

So. I'm alive. Fat, furry, lactose intolerant, but singing like a motherfucking rooster at sunrise.

Well, not singing really. And definitely not at sunrise. This would be a more accurate picture of the Friedman house at sunrise:

ME: (re baby monitor) I'm pretty sure he said mommy.
WIFE: Yeah, maybe. But he said daddy first.
ME: Maybe he'll just fall back to sleep. Besides, he hates me.
WIFE: You know his pajamas are soaked with urine.
ME: Yep...he said mommy. I definitely heard mommy.

Because that's how a world-famous blogger rolls, bitch. We don't change urine-soaked pajamas, we don't fix our spam filter and we sure as shit don't post in order to reassure people we didn't die undergoing cancer surgery.

Especially when that surgery was in December.

Now, if I was to write about my cancer surgery (which I'm not), it should be understood that the closest I'd ever come to surgery previously is the opening montage on Nip/Tuck. Which, if truth be told, is coincidentally the exact time in each episode I go pee.

But I will say that part of Surgery Morning went like this:

I leave the wife in the hospital waiting room and change into the hospital gown for pre-op flight check. Blood pressure (elevated, motherfucker, wouldn't yours be?), pre-op pee (three times), and the application of some very striking panty hose to keep blood clots from forming and bursting in my brain. Which, I gather, is bad.

In comes the anesthesiologist: a bright looking young boy of fourteen whose name escapes me right now but I'm fairly sure was some form of "Jimmy." He starts joking with me about finding a vein for my IV and I swear to God the nurse behind him makes that universal "he's stoned" toking sign with her fingers.

At this point my mind goes back to my previous surgery experience and I wonder why on Nip/Tuck it's Roz the anesthesiologist who turns on that fancy B&O stereo for the surgery montage. Is she choosing that music? It's so ironically appropriate for the surgery at hand so you think it'd be the doctors, and yet, that Roz...she has such an air of ownership with that thing...

I refocus on Jimmy the Anesthesiologist.

JIMMY: I'm gonna give you something to relax you now.
ME: When you say "relax me" do you mean "take the edge off" or "count backwards from 100 and try not to float to the light."
JIMMY: I mean the second one. Anything else you need?

Now, I guess if I'd have thought about it, I might have requested my wife come back for one last reassuring hand squeeze or something like that. Here's what I say instead:

ME: Will there be music? There's always music.
JIMMY: Your surgeon doesn't much like music.
ME: (disappointed) Oh.
JIMMY: Why? You have any requests?
ME: Is there...a request line?
JIMMY: Hit me with it. I'll see what I can do.
ME: Springsteen. Born to Run.
JIMMY: No problem.
ME: Seriously?
JIMMY: No problem.

Now there are people in this world--we all know them--when they "no problem" what they're really saying is..."I am gonna say whatever I can to make this yahoo stop talking to me so I can go about my business of fucking him over." "No problem" is the everyguy's version of putting on the shiny flightsuit and posing on the aircraft carrier. You can choose to be reassured by it, but you'd be an asshole.

But then there are a few--we're lucky to know them--when they say "no problem" what they really mean is...

No Problem.

(By the way, in Hollywood these people are almost always assistants. They make three hundred dollars to work a sixty-hour week, they're immensely overqualified, and you know their parents are lying to their friends about why their daughter graduated third in her class at Yale and spends her day stocking Diet Dr. Pepper in the office mini-fridge. Or, in the case of my agent's assistant, tracking down episodes of America's Next Top Model for an unnamed client whose fucking Tivo refuses to prioritize the Season Pass correctly no matter how many fucking calls have been made to said client's Tivo Service Representative.)

So I ask for Springsteen's Born to Run and he says no problem. And perhaps you're wondering whether I'd thought about this ahead of time or whether this just popped out of my mouth. Because, again, as I've mentioned in earlier posts...without being morbid about it--if I was gonna get some music before I went under...there was a chance that this would be the last thing I ever hear.


But, you know, who knew at the time? Most of us aren't gonna commit capital crimes either but I can't be the only one who's figured out what my last meal on death row would be, right?

(Which, now that you ask, is a Family Size box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.)

Blog disclaimer: The makers of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and its associated family of food products do not condone nor would they ever encourage capital crime. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese has never been convicted of a capital crime and should not be considered a possible agent of capital crime. And they certainly do not appreciate funny letters sent to them which may suggest an ad campaign centered around celebrity inmates and their desire to eat Kraft Macaroni and Cheese as their final meal. They really think that's stupid.

So it's Springsteen's Born to Run and it's no problem, he says. I honestly can't remember if I'd thought it out much before but I do know that in the time since, I haven't heard a record and thought "Shit! That's what I should've asked for." Now, I grant you I haven't had a chance to really huddle down in my basement with the liner notes to Nick Lachey's "What's Left of Me" and crank that fucker up. So...you never know.

But I ask for Springsteen and Jimmy says no problem and that's all we say about it. I do wonder momentarily if, assuming I survive, requesting The Boss as The Last Sounds I Hear on Earth will affect my chances of becoming his close friend, colleague and collaborator. I quickly reassure myself that it'll probably be something we'll laugh about when we're drinking and will in no way come across as either creepy or cloying.

Of course, what I'm really thinking is this: This person is about to knock me out. This person and nobody else will be in charge of monitoring me during surgery and making sure that when it is time to bring me back to the land of the living that I am actually living and can be brought back to that land. And what I'VE asked this man to concentrate on, to focus his energies on...IS FINDING ME A FUCKING RECORD TO PLAY WHILE I'M FALLING ASLEEP.

I drifted off in the pre-op room. I don't remember them wheeling me down the hall. There were no faces floating over me, no reassuring nod from my surgeon, or the nurses, or whatever it is I'd seen on television. I'm sure I'd forgotten my request.

I only remember this: the large bright overhead light of the operating room; the sense of being in a large space; and the unmistakeable sounds of Ernest "Boom" Carter's drums as they drive the introduction to one of rock and roll's great songs of Escape. Carter would leave the band after recording Born to Run, his only song on the album. Did he know he was playing himself off the stage? Would he have done it any differently, had he known? Would any of us?

I wrote a while ago that I debated ever writing about any of these events. Despite strong evidence to the contrary, I'm not such a starving narcissist that I'm compelled to wring a drop of sympathy from a bunch of strangers. I am such a starving narcissist that I'm compelled to keep writing this blog, if for no other reason than to have a place to thank those who EVERY DAY become the most important person in someone else's life.

Let us take a moment, then, to consider the few, who, despite having much better things to do with their time, think it's a worthwhile endeavour to answer all requests "No Problem."

Consider yourselves considered.