Aisle Of Wit

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All I Want This Christmas Is No Cholecystectomy

The last time anyone was capable of having a normal Christmas Day (let alone a fourth day of Chanukah), this is how I spent it.  Lying with tubes stuck in me, an ugly white beard making me itch and grateful I had bid farewell to my diseased gall bladder less than 24 hours earlier.

As I’ve written before I hit what I thought was rock bottom when this reassuring photo was taken on Christmas Day 2019.  Santa was a Beverly Hills fireman visiting seriously ill children fighting cancer in a steralized room across the hall from my room in Cedars-Sinai.  Our paths crossed as I was using a walker attempting to get a few wobbly laps in around the corridors for the first time since my surgery the previous morning.  When I mentioned that I had had the honor of volunteering with his station when I worked with the team that produced RESCUE ME this Santa acknowledged he had auditioned for a guest role and had gotten turned down.  Yep, Santa was a working actor.  After I assured him I had nothing to do with casting he took a liking to me and consented for this shot.

As we all know isolation and recovery is now something we all deal with, some to a greater extent than others.  For me personally, my physical recovery has been remarkable. Since this picture was taken I have lost and kept off more than 45 pounds, gotten off of several medications and shaved not only my beard but a lot of other excess hair.  I thank models, trainers and angels for that direction, including the inner direction of learning how to love myself and allowing a loving G-d to facilitate it.    As this step-and-repeat shot from the summer at a party full of real models attests, I think I look damn good for a dude my age.

But as Omicron, political divide, business unrest and the lost art of courtesy ravage our lives I’d be lying if I said the rest of my world is anything resembling positive.  I struggle financially and emotionally.  Friendships I thought I had have disintegrated; new ones I’ve been able to develop limited by the abject fear of human contact that is particularly rampant over the past month.  The nightmare of Covid has shut down many options for human contact that only a few months ago seemed possible.   Simply making a living has become a massive challenge.  Those of you that know me better know my details.  Out of respect I will withhold them for those of you who are more casual connections.  Suffice to say I’ve seen far better days financially and emotionally.

I spent Christmas Eve this year alone.  I had the option of going out and perhaps meeting some new people.  But the past few weeks of regression have simply been overwhelming.  In a city like Los Angeles where the mere sight of a person’s lips sees people visibly start to shake and where threatening letters and e-mails are mounting for me I simply didn’t have the strength to fake the confidence that the picture you see here exudes.  Plus, there was a possibility I’d actually run into people I want to avoid.  I settled in with a bowl of hot soup, tried to watch Being the Ricardos (sadly have to agree with many critics who thought this was overacted and underwritten considering the caliber of talent; sorry, Mike Hopkins–but do take any Oscars your studio may get), and once again dozed off with eyes wet with tears.

I question myself as I use Leblanguage this brutally honest.  Many people are suffering in far greater ways these days.  If you’ve been physically sick you know how challenging it is to get quality medical care as COVID dominates our challenged medcial facilities.  If you’ve had COVID, you know it’s indeed real and it indeed sucks.  If you’ve lost a loved one to it, you’re likely grieving.  I still grieve for the relative I lost from it early into this, even if his family would rather I didn’t.  He lived for the kind of people I now can call friends, ironically living in an area he desperately tried to achieve his own personal success in his lifetime.  I wish he could see me now. I’d like to think he can, and he’s the happiest soul wherever he may be now.

In spite of thoughts to the contrary, I’ve awoken Christmas Day.  No tangible presents for me–no tree, no stocking in this apartment.  I got the gift of giving a few to some very appreciative recipients far away.  I’ll see them soon.  I hope they’ll hug me.  I’m fully vaxxed and boosted, remember?  And if you think this Christmas entry is depressing, I’ll leave you with this.  New Year’s isn’t far off.  Many new beginnings and successes await.  Those that claim to know for sure insist upon it.  I’d rather blindly believe them for once, no matter what science, the numbers and my fear-consumed fellow Angelenos may currently believe.  I assure you, if weather doesn’t cancel it my New Year’s entry will be a lot more upbeat. Stick around.  I have, and I’m far better off for it.

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate.  Until next time….