I hadn’t seen him in some time. I went out to the waiting room, knowing exactly who I was looking for and what he looked like the last time I saw him, many years ago. I called his name.
He got up, striding toward me on long, skinny jeans with legs inside. His face, his whole body was thinner than at our last meeting. He wore an Arafat stubble which did not hide but accented his angular jawline. He was missing a few teeth.
He looked twenty five years older. He’s actually a few years younger than me. Chronic psychotic illnesses age their hosts with astonishing and appalling speed.
“Doc! How ya doin’ man? ”
I smiled. He had the same disarming, boyish grin he’d always had.
“Fine, fine. Thanks for coming to see me.”
“Dude, it’s been a few years, yeah? A few years. You’re older, Doc!”
(Well, yes, as a matter of fact…)
“Yes, I think we’re both getting older, aren’t we? That’s a good thing, I hope.”
“Man, last time I saw you all that hair was dark. You didn’t have a white goatee then, didja?”
“I guess it’s all a little grayer than the last time I saw you. Come on back.”
“Yeah, man, it’s good to see ya, Doc.”
I’m standing in the lobby during the intermission of A Christmas Story, a production of my daughter’s new theater company home in Chattanooga. Two of my grandchildren are here, and I’m eager to see them and say hello.
My four year old grandson comes over to me right away, and he wants me to pick him up for a big hug. I gladly do just that.
He looks at me, little nose and sparkling eyes inches from my own.
“I know you’re old.”
“It’s okay, Papa, we know you’re old.”
I give him a big hug, make some small talk, then set him back down on the lobby floor.
No pains. No pulled muscles in my back. Biceps feeling good.
Sometimes I even take my own groceries out from the Publix supermarket and load them into the car myself.
Bless the folks with psychosis and the little children, for they have no social filters.