16th December, 2010
“Blood draw” in the NYU Health Center (sic) on Broadway at 9 a.m. this morning. Yesterday, I saw a Chinese-American doc, a wonderful adult nerd with glasses and a Cleopatra fringe, probably in her late forties but fairly ageless in her youthfulness. After months of being skimmed over by professionals in all other spheres, it was a pleasure to meet a doctor who was willing to give you that amount of her time. During the appointment, we misunderstood each other often, but without stress. Each time a cultural synapse misfired, we laughed, she in a neutral, though endearing way (perhaps the inheritance of centuries of reassuring the other person within the Chinese tradition: “neither of us is losing face here, we’re just laughing at how absurd the universe is, within which human communication is just another little absurdicom.”) She talked me into seeing a nutritionist, getting my first ever flu shot; and, I got the idea to get the first chlamydia and gonorrhea tests (TMI – OUCH!) of my life. (It was a case of “you have the car at the garage, why not give it the full lash?” All was clear, as expected, and most importantly, I didn’t have to get that version of the test where the cotton bud / q-tip / cotton swab is inserted into the urethra. (“Don’t be man-flu-ing about it,” the women in class more or less said, “wait ’til you’ve had a pap smear.” Hang on, let me ask a question akin to “if a tree falls in a wood…?” – How could I have man flu, when I don’t have a wife or girlfriend to accuse me of having said condition?)
Today, during the cholesterol blood work, the male nurse said, “I don’t like how your vein’s blowin’ up, I’m not gonna risk this.” I felt nothing the first time, but on the second attempt, by God, I felt the pinch when he went in on the side of the right wrist like a Lower East Side Avenue D pro, saying, “it’s always the patient’s fault: after all, they’re your veins.”
I said: “that’s the first time I’ve heard that from a doctor, must be because you’re a New Yorker.”
“You’re right, my friend. It’s cawled survival,” he said.
(After the STI tests, I handed my piss, still warm, to a sweet nurse from Staten Island. “I love ya ac-cent! Mine’s da woist. I hate needles, why da hell I got so many piercin’s and tattoos?” she said as she walked off, cheerfully holding a cup of my warm wee.)
I wonder how my blood alcohol is going to affect the blood work, since I went to Johnny’s last night with Richard Prins, who has James Baldwin tattooed on his back. “We’re going to hit the Mars Bar after the NYU Christmas party,” we said to Zach, the sweet / tough bar man, whose wife loves to go fishing.
(“I said, ‘honey, what do you want to do?'”
“Go fishing in Montana.”
“I thought I’d hit the motherlode. I mean, a woman who loves to go fly fishing?!”)
Anyway, he said that when he goes to the Mars Bar, he stands with his back to the bar, facing out. As Obi Wan Kenobi said in Star Wars about Mos Eisley spaceport, “you will never find a more wretched hive of villainy and scum. We must be cautious.” I’m looking forward to it.
As I write, in a booth in Cozy’s Famous Soup ‘n’ Burger at Broadway and Astor Place, near the Village, I’ve just finished hash browns, two sunny eggs with crispy bases, and crispy American bacon, three cups of weak diner refill coffee and four glasses of iced water. The great grimy loo, the cheesy photos of famous Greeks like Telly Savalas (my father spent the 70s saying, “who loves ya, baby?”) and Alf, such 70s and 80s mementos, the owners greeting you briskly with their Greek English, so touchingly “immigrant” still, in their no-nonsense, almost Madrid-style brusqueness – in the Mediterranean you know that they like you if they seem rude – it almost makes me tear up, knowing I’m leaving New York in four days for the Christmas. And, “give me scrambled two,” such great garbling drifting through the Xs and Ys of aural Greek; that there are still places like this makes me happy as I write, and peel off my two plasters, taking some arm hair with them, the sadist. Ah, the pleasure of a hot fried unhealthy breakfast after fasting for bloods, and walking out afterward onto Broadway anonymous at 10 a.m., without having had much sleep, but in a warm winter coat in the chill, and the brisk December sunlight waking your eyes.