Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Incidental Joys

- When the amusement park kiddie-ride came to a stop a father lifted his little daughter out of the front seat and then noticed another pre-school girl sitting behind. The brown-skinned, black-bearded man with a turban reached his arms toward her. She gazed up at the stranger and they both hesitated for a split-second. The dad looked over his shoulder seeking for parents’ approval to go ahead and help their child. When I caught his eye, I nodded at him with a smile of appreciation and tiny, milky-skinned Amelia with curly blonde pigtails was kindly picked up and set on her feet to run to me. Ah, if all interracial, interfaith, and intercultural interactions were as sweet as this. 

- Flipping TV channels, I heard a movie character say,
"I don’t care if he’s a member of the god-damned Salvation Army”. I snorted at the incongruity; there’s a phrase you never expect to hear. Not exactly a joy but pretty funny.

- My house backs onto a large church building. From my lawn chair one day in June, I heard applause through the church basement‘s open windows. It was graduation day at nursery school. Over and over there were bursts of applause and camera flashes. I laughed out loud when I heard music begin and realized it was Elger’s “Pomp and Circumstance” the traditional processional piece at formal occasions. My heart warmed at such signs of appreciation for dear children.

- Losing any Buddhist pretensions to non-violence I killed a mosquito whose gut was already red with my arm’s blood. Seconds later, I noticed what must have been one of its legs on the page of my book. The black strand was about 2 centimetres long and as thin as a pen stroke. How can insects at that size and fragility survive long enough to reproduce by the millions? Itchy awe.

- In preparation for the national holiday, my neighbour draped a Maple Leaf flag over her garden bench. One morning a bright crimson cardinal landed beside the red and white flag, and posed for a moment like a cheerful Canadian dressed for the fireworks show. As I watched, he flew down to forage on the driveway and a female cardinal fluttered in to replace him on the bench. I remained still, a grin of joy on my face. If you want to see Nature’s wonders you have to linger. Lo and behold, the male flew back to the female and, beak-to-beak, presented her with a diamond ring...or maybe it was a juicy bug.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

In Vino Veritas

Could anyone be drunk and at a doctor's appointment at 8:00 am? He arrived in the plastic surgeon’s office where I was waiting with five other patients.
Don’t get excited at the mention of plastic surgery. I was at the office because apparently plastic surgeons are the only doctors who can inject the palms of my hands with cortisone to unlock fingers that aren’t flexing normally. 

The intoxicated man didn’t take a chair. He moved from lounging across the reception counter to wandering the small space, full of good humour. When the clerk asked for his health card he responded, “I don’ need a health card – I’m not sick. Heh, heh.”
The rest of us, all women, couldn’t avoid hearing him as we carefully avoided eye contact. He searched the table of magazines and said jovially, 
“What am I supposed to read? No 'Playboys'? Heh, heh” 
The silence was heavy. 
“When we used to go to barbers for only men there’d be 'Playboy' magazines – guys would stay there for long time, eh? Heh, heh.” 
More silence.
“The good old days, when men were men and women were women, eh?”
My mind filled with scorn at his words and behaviour. Should I bother educating him about “the good old days” for women? Nah. He’s not worth it.

When the receptionist finally escorted me to a treatment room, she and I exchanged eye-rolls and I wished her luck in managing the troublemaker.
As I waited … and waited… for the doctor, I heard the man still trying to get a friendly laugh from somebody. He asked the receptionist, “So is the surgeon plastic?”  and tried to explain his joke, “Wouldn’t it be funny if the plastic surgeon was made out of plastic?”

Sitting alone in the other room, I realised that with no compassion at all I’d recoiled from this poor man. I’d seen him immediately as one of my “enemies” (drunk, sexist jerk) and then ignored, yet again, Christ’s revolutionary command to love every one. I could have appreciated his good mood. I could have been kinder instead of acting as if he didn’t exist. We weren't on a street corner; it wouldn’t have been dangerous or demanding to carry on a conversation with him when he was trying so hard to be congenial.

As I continued to pass time in the small examining room I gazed at the posters and available brochures. Ugh. Every single one in the rack or framed on a wall was advertising a drug corporation. Every single one showed a photo of a beautiful woman. Without words, they lied, “This could be you if you asked your doctor to use our products. You could have longer eye lashes, fewer wrinkles, perfect breasts and [according to one brochure] smaller labia [what?].”

Although I know that plastic surgeons do some admirable and essential work like reconstruction after accidents or disease and my own hand injections, it was creepy to see that the male doctor I was waiting for had chosen to decorate his examining room with examples of a cultural delusion. Female bodies are never good enough. Talk about making a deal with the devil. What do these drug companies give him in return?

Another question came to mind.
How much difference was there really between “Playboy” patient and the wealthy doctor who makes part of his income by re-sculpturing healthy female bodies for unhealthy reasons.
I saw some unconscious insight in the silly question, “And the surgeon? Is he real or made out of plastic?” 

P.S. Later, in my final proofread of this post, another thought popped up. If I’m thinking critical thoughts about sexist drunks and doctors, how much of my Christian faith is real and how much is plastic?