Then, the next day

“You need a woman in your life.” she said. I was standing in the Veterans Hospital waiting room, doing what most of the vets there were doing. Waiting. I looked over at her but didn’t say anything. She repeated herself.

“I’m married.” I replied, thinking that should do it. It didn’t.

“You really do. I can tell, you know.”

“I’m married.” I said again. I wondered who this woman was and why she was telling me I needed a woman. No man ever really needs a woman. We just like them. Sometimes.

“I know the best little girl…” she began. I didn’t want to hear it so I started shuffling backwards. I bumped into a guy wearing a cast on his leg. I stepped on his toe, and he responded by shoving me forward and away from him. Losing balance, I fell onto the woman who’d been speaking to me. “No, no. Not me!” she said, and then giggled. “But, uh…”  she fluttered her eyelids.

I decided at this point that I needed to go to the bathroom and said so, excusing myself and fleeing. I hid in the rest room for a few minutes before timidly venturing back out. The woman was gone, but I noticed that the line to the appointment desk was twice as long as it had been. This made me weigh out just how badly I wanted to see a doctor. I was just hoping to get an antibiotic for a case of the snuffles. What with my cancer, little snuffles can turn worse quickly, degrading into pneumonia or possibly acid reflux disease. Which, actually, I think is a scam to keep people from self healing their transient indigestion. When I get indigestion I put a half teaspoon of baking soda in a cup of water and chug it. My guts rumble for a couple of minutes and then I burp hugely and grotesquely, But then it’s all over and I can go back to eating whatever upset my stomach.

Back in the parking lot I searched for my car, which had been conveniently parked the greatest possible distance from the hospital door. That wasn’t my plan, but apparently the majority of the population had decided to go to the VA today and the parking lot was jammed when I arrived. I thought of booking a flight to my car, but figured what with security these days I could get there faster hobbling. I have the same theory about flying to New York from the west coast.

My car was a comfy haven for the parking lot chaos outside it, and I nestled into the drivers seat and cranked the old girl up. I drive a Ford Taurus. I bought it as a safety device, knowing the car was so lame that no one would ever steal it. In my three years of ownership, no one had ever given it a second look even though I never locked it. It’s not that these are ugly cars, their just overwhelmingly non-descript. If the US military would only design all of their weapons to look like the Ford Taurus, they could drop this stealth stuff altogether.

So, here it is, Black Friday as they call it. Why, I’m not sure. Black Friday is a term I associate with tremendous negativity, yet it is the moniker we give to the nation’s largest Christmas shopping day. So, where does the black come in? It certainly isn’t the bottom line of people’s bank accounts, which after shopping turns a brilliant red for most folks. Except me. I’m a regular Scrooge when it comes to Christmas shopping. When I do shop, it’s usually in the blister pack toy aisle in the supermarket. I mean, hey. Cheapo toys are going for a few bucks these days. It’s not like when you could, back in the good old days, cross someone off your shopping list with an investment of sixty-nine cents a head. They say it’s the thought that counts, and so I think a lot about how to get out of doing it at all. There was a time when I went whole hog, getting gifts I spent a lot on after thinking about what my gift receiver really wants. Then when I open the stuff they give to me, I find it still has the supermarket price tag still on it. It was at that very moment I understood “Sauce for the goose.”

I drove my car down streets crowded with revelling holiday shoppers. Actually, they were more like rebelling holiday shoppers, anxious to give the globally famous one finger salute to all other vehicles competing for tarmac space. As I passed a Wal-Mart I ran into a traffic jam of people trying to either get into the parking lot or out of it, trying to sequence themselves into unmoving traffic. It seemed as though most drivers were doing their best to block other drivers more than actually get where they wanted to go. Yet I managed to sweep right through the clot unscathed. I wondered a second why it had been so easy for me to get through the roadway clusterfrock before I understood. Oh yeah, Taurus. They can’t see me.

With a chuckling chortle, whatever that is, I took off for home. No one saw me.