Monday, June 28, 2010

Ms. Edinburgh, Mr. Houdini, and me

My dearest Nora, wherever thou mayst roam,

The weekend brought a few surprises, all pleasant. For starters, someone had mentioned to me a site called Chatroulette, whereby one is randomly connected via webcam chat to someone else elsewhere in the world. The prospect of entertaining conversation with strangers was of interest to me one particular evening after another strange day at Big City Hospital. More on that in a bit.

What I found upon visiting the site was cause for alarm. The first three people I came across were young men in the nude. Thanks, just the same, but I'll take my business elsewhere. Had a lovely, albeit brief, encounter with a middle-aged couple (!!) from the Midwestern US. A Prairie Home Companion was mentioned and we were all in agreement on its entertainment value. Three French teenagers were next and they kept asking if I listen to Tupac Shakur. Had to reply in the negative as a general rule, but stated that there are occasions on which I may be found to be listening to the man's music.

My last Chatroulette encounter was nothing short of extraordinary. She was as blonde as the day is long, but it was all very natural in appearance. She was lovely, and when she spoke, I was but a smiling, blushing fool. She came from Edinburgh, you see, and my, what an accent. For nearly three hours we spoke, and laughed, and laughed some more. Out of nowhere, she told me that I'm "terribly attractive."

Hold the presses.

This is front-page news.

I told her so, and she seemed to get a great delight out of it. We laughed some more and, as the conversation carried on, I felt glad to speak to an intelligent, beautiful, and ambitious woman who generally found me attractive on all fronts. Gave me one of those little pushes of hope, a sort of, "Ah, go forth, boy!" from the lord above that come round, never a moment too soon.

We spoke until nearly 3 a.m. my time and I had to work hard to force myself away. We exchanged contact information and already she's sent an email. It was a lovely message, typical of what I romantacise all letters from the island to be like. Almost straight from literature, it was. Superb in its styling. Oh my.

Three and one-half hours later, I was turning off my alarm and trying desperately to chase away the fatigue from my eyes and mind. That morning, my dear, I had a date with the golf course. The end result was impressive considering the circumstances, just two over my approximate per-game average! Beautiful course, not crowded, and friendly residents. Good day.

Now, on to tales from Big City Hospital.

Traffic prevented me from arriving at my appointed time. It's an irritating occurrence for me, and surely for all involved, and I do my best to avoid it on a consistent basis. As I entered the nurse's station, The Nurse teased me a little about my tardiness. Off to a good start.

I scrambled around the hospital, running all manner of errands, and encountering generally friendly people wherever I went. Some tasks were executed with a speed unanticipated by the nurse who requested the favour, and I got many big smiles and warm expressions of gratitude. It was, as always, a pleasure to do something for people who do so much for others...and often without so much as a proper, "Thank you."

There were four, yes, four, would-be escape artists on the ward. It was an exciting prospect to me, albeit perhaps a bit on the scary side. These are, after all, not well-minded people. All but one of them were well-behaved, aside from a minor incident here and there. The one who would not comply was a bit of a doozy.

Never did find out his reason for taking up temporary residence on our floor, but he surely displayed signs of only having a lightly-placed foot in reality. Kind of a irritable chap, he was. When there was an emergency in another room, the "guard" for Mr. Houdini had to be called into action. He chose this opportunity to attempt an escape. However, he only made it ten feet down the hallway before he was escorted back to his room by me and one of the nurses. For a few interesting minutes, I stood guard. He was well-behaved and settled in his bed to watch a little television. Hmm! Upon the return of his previous "guard," he was up to his old tricks. Perhaps their personalities clashed. heh. Guards were exchanged and things went on without incident for nearly two hours.

I was on my way up on the lift from running an errand for a stunningly gorgeous nurse (married, of course). My mind was on The Nurse and if I'd have the opportunity to inquire as to whether she might soon be available for a night of entertainment when the doors opened. Standing there, gown half-open and a bag full of assorted items in hand, was Mr. Houdini. I had not anticipated this.

Three nurses and one tech were on the scene. I stood before the open lift, blocking his entrance. For a brief moment, I saw in his eyes a glimmer of, "You'd best remove yourself from my path, otherwise suffer the wrath of my anger and desperation."

...and I reacted by nearly laughing.

Oftentimes in my life, when I'm experiencing something novel that perhaps I'd never imagined would happen to me, my natural reaction is to be overwhelmed with its novelty and be...well, entertained by it. It sometimes takes every ounce of effort to restrain myself and instead display the emotion appropriate to the situation.

So, there the six of us stood. The doors of the lift closed shut behind me. Mr. Houdini went for the button to call it back, but the five of us surrounding him moved accordingly, thereby denying his access. One nurse was gently trying to coax him back to his room with calm speech, but it was not having any effect. Another asked, "What's the matter? Don't you like us?" He said that most them were alright, but that he absolutely must leave to avoid being cited for an expired parking meter. I piped up and asked why he was in such a hurry to leave behind so many beautiful women, and that his insistence upon leaving must be hurting their feelings. He thought about this for a moment, but went right back to slight agitation and talking about insufficient funds to pay a fine.

Around this time, a couple of security guards showed up. Under their authority, he (mostly) calmly returned to his room. However, he lashed out at one of the guards and subsequently wound up being rendered unable to do anything of the sort again.

Just as that settled down, a man on the other side of the hall began yelling an endless stream of obscenities. The last thing that I heard him say before quieting back down was, "Well, I don't want to watch the (expletive) soccer, football, kick the (expletive) ball past some group of (expletive). This is unconstitutional!" It was a light-hearted, amusing moment for those of us at the nurse's station.

...but it did not last.

Stroke alert.

At the end of the day, a frazzled-looking RN hopped on the lift to head to the floor above my destination. I smiled and asked whether she was on her way home soon. She turned to face me. Her frizzy brown hair, pulled back, revealed hints of grey above her ears. Heavy bags, like someone had packed for a three-month expedition to the antarctic, under her bloodshot eyes... "This is only the beginning," she said. At this moment, the doors slid open and she made her exit. I spent a lot of the drive home wondering about her, what she'd experienced to make her look so war-torn.

Finally, in a completely unrelated note, as I made my way to an open desk at the library this morning, a book nestled in on one of the countless shelves caught my eye. It was an anthology of the works of a Japanese writer. A cherry blossom tree adorned the cover. I wanted nothing more than to pluck it from its resting place and devour it. I was put in the literary mood this morning on the way to university when I heard a bit of poetry from days long past recited on the radio. Hm.

May the grace of He keep you always,

J.O. Morris

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