Saturday, October 24, 2009

Balloon Man

My face is more swollen today than ever before.

It feels like my head is going to separate from the rest of my body and float high in the sky, followed by National Guard helicopters and CNN, before crashing in a meadow 50 or 60 miles away. If that happens, maybe it will turn out that this whole nightmare that has unfolded over the past year was just my body playing a hoax on me.

My painkiller isn't bringing any relief today, and it's too early in the day to take my cyclobenzaprine tablet to relax the muscles in my face. I guess I'm just gonna tough it out and spend another Saturday on the sofa or in bed.

Last night I brought that DVD of Robert Altman's "A Wedding" back to Amoeba to beg them to liberate it from the anti-theft plastic case that the cashier forget to remove when I bought the movie on Thursday.

I wrote a note and handed to the DVD to an Amoeba employee working the Returns counter.

He studied the hard plastic shell, which bore evidence of blows from my hammer and stab wounds from a screwdriver. Then he looked suspiciously at me. "They should have removed this case before giving you the DVD, sir," he said, staring right into my eyes.

I nodded, wondering if my contorted Famous Monsters of Filmland mug just makes me look like the kind of guy who would subject anti-theft plastic DVD cases to violence for sheer sport.

"Wait here," he told me, in a tone that suggested I was in trouble.

He returned about 15 minutes later, with an Amoeba staffer named Jimmy. I knew Jimmy was fairly high up on the Amoeba Music chain of command, so I braced myself for being accused of never buying the DVD in the first place.

Instead Jimmy apologized. He explained that the girl who rang up my purchase was brand-new to Amoeba's staff and that she hadn't been trained properly. After liberating the Altman DVD from the mangled case, Jimmy gave it back to me, along with $5 in store credit to compensate for my trouble.

I tried to smile, but my attempts at smiling these days just make me look angry.

Last night I watched "A Wedding." Richard Schickel, who tore Robert Altman apart in the Los Angeles Times on Thursday, doesn't know what he's talking about. Maybe my threshold for being entertained is low these days, but I liked "A Wedding" and Robert Altman is still one of my favorite directors.

On Monday, unless my head snaps off and floats away, I have an appointment with the maxillofacial surgery department and another in Radiation Oncology. Two days later, I'll be seeing Dr. B1 again.

I hope to hear at least some good news from my team of doctors. But even if they don't have any encouraging words and their bag of tricks is empty, I'll take that $5 credit at Amoeba and go shopping to ease the pain.

Going through what I'm experiencing builds strength and endurance. Heck, I'm bold enough now to revisit Altman's "Popeye."


  1. when it comes time for your aids ride, paul, stop by amoeba. we'll be glad to make a donation. best of luck!

  2. Thank you, Jimmy. You guys helped me out on the ride a few years back, and I'll never forget that. I'm hoping to do the ride in 2010, and if I do I'll definitely ask Amoeba to be one of my sponsors. Your store is a home away from home to me!


  3. Let me know if you can get through H.E.A.L.T.H. or O.C. and Stiggs