“I THINK this looks like gout, sir.”
“Gout? Haha! Like Henry VIII?”
“People still get gout, sir. It hasn’t been magically cured.”
So that was a pleasant little exchange I had early this year in Hoboken’s emergency room. The doctor INSISTED on calling me “sir” which I do not look upon as a sign of respect. (As Ruth Chatterton said to Walter Huston in “Dodsworth”—“But I’m still young, Sam!”)
He was not amused by my amusement that the incredibly painful swelling of my toe and foot—which I thought I’d injured by over-exercising—was gout. “Well, I guess it’s not just the disease of kings, anymore!” I said, with a saucy toss of my graying tresses. The doctor gave me a distinct “I am not amused by your gay humor” side-eye and left me to my IV drip of pain medication.
That’s how the year began. Less than two weeks ago I was back at the Hoboken emergency room with B. who was suffering some pretty drastic stomach problems. It had come from nowhere. He had to endure a horrible procedure with a tube down his nose and into his stomach, and then was hospitalized for three days. He’s home now, still weak, on a bland diet. It was an infection that they can’t indentify—how or why, which is troubling. How to make sure it doesn’t happen again?
I tried to be an adult, and behave responsibly and intelligently, at the hospital, with the doctors, at home alone. (I was not compelled to have a Shirley MacLaine “Give my daughter the shot!!!” moment, although it came kinda close in the emergency room, around the seventh hour, which was two hours after they’d said, “his room is ready.”) I didn’t like being alone in the house. I didn’t like to visit the inevitabilities. I’ve never, in my entire life, lived alone. So…the house better blow up, dispensing with the two of us, at once. (Notice I’m just ignoring whether or not B. would be okay without me, or if he’s on board with going together in a gas leak. I generally get my way.)
So, in between February and mid-December, the rest of 2016 happened. And it’s still happening (Carrie Fisher, George Michael. And, Kellyanne Conway–Donald Trump’s Leni Riefenstahl.) Helen Mirren’s sum-up was more than accurate: “a shit storm.” Aside from the gout—I’m going to make you feel bad for my toe, no matter what!—I had some considerable alterations to my work. I’m doing that voodoo that I don’t do so well, from home now, which is odd and isolating. But I carry on, as does my boss, who is 93 and will most assuredly outlive me. (She will probably set off the gas leak, actually—if she thinks I’m about to pen my memoirs!)
I’m not recapping all the losses or the election. Enough. I just wish I was younger, so I could actually devote myself to protests and consistent organized watchfulness as to what’s coming. It’s all fine and well for Michael Moore (who, like me, basically predicted Clinton’s loss) to make up lists of things to do as Trumplandia falls upon us, but most people don’t have the time—they’re working. He’s working too, but I don’t think he’s worrying over his rent.
I’m just going to bring you my photo tale of capturing a Christmas tree—the youngest, smallest one yet. Still, it struggled! Coy, but eventually convinced. (I remember playing that game.) And of course, what happened to it, and the rest of the place. I make small changes every year, but as you all know, it’s basically the same over-ornate, bordello-esque Christmas adored by hookers, men of a certain persuasion and the very sentimental.
I love each and every one of you. I hope I adjust more to my new-ish work situation and make a real effort to stay in touch. I’ll try not to rant on politics. We all need escape from that.
I hope your holiday was reasonably healthy, happy and graced by the presence family, friends, a cherished pet, or enough good thoughts from years past to lighten the load, if you are alone. You can write to me any time, unload, rant, reminisce—just as I have so often, and you’ve always listened and responded with such support.
All good things, all this year, and for many more to come.
Deep love and appreciation,
Denis and Bruce (Mr. Wow and B.)