Four summers ago the boy was riding a moped around the neighborhood. He lost control and ran into a parked car and broke his left femur just above the knee. Dr. Cashman, the orthopedic surgeon, put in a metal plate and four screws – thus doing what all the kings horses and all the kings men could not.
Four months ago the boy started complaining about how his knee was hurting him, and after a visit to Dr. Cashman we decided it was time to take out what had been put in.
And that brings us to last Friday morning.
The ex-wife had flown in to be with her only son as he went through the surgery, and to coddle and wait on him post-surgery as only a mother can.
And as the boy, his sister, his mother and I all sat around waiting for the surgery to begin he said “you know, you don’t have to wait here the whole time. Once I go back there if you want to run out and do stuff, I’m okay with that”.
“That’s very cool of you” I replied “because, although I said I’d suffer through with you on the whole ‘not eating prior to surgery’ thing, when I made that promise I didn’t think it was going to be this long. So I’ll probably run out somewhere to get something to eat.”
“That’s cool” the boy replied.
“So it will be just like when you were born” his mom chimed in.
“What does that mean?” he asked.
“Oh, here we go again” I groaned “I knew this was going to come up today. That was 16 years, 3 months and 1 day ago – and yet I knew it was going to come up today.”
Their mother rolled her eyes and before she could speak I interrupted.
“You kids want to know my side of the story?” I asked as I awaited their nods.
“When your mom was pregnant with Vinny, they thought he was getting too big so they wanted to induce your mom into labor. The date that was chosen was December 26th – the day after Christmas. We showed up at the hospital bright and early at about 7am and they hooked your mom up to the drugs that would make her go into labor.
“The problem was, she wasn’t ready to go into labor and the drugs weren’t having any affect. So at about 5pm they said they were going to take her off of the drugs and let us go home – but we had to stick around for another 3 or 4 hours just to make sure nothing wacky happened.
“Well, sure enough, about 4 hours later she went into labor.
“And at this point the only thing she had really had to eat all day was ice chips – because they didn’t want her eating any food in case they needed to do an emergency surgery.
“As for me – I had a few things to eat early in the day, but didn’t get a chance to get any dinner.
“Both my mom and your mom’s mom had brought me a burger from the hospital cafeteria – but it was a cheeseburger and as you know – I don’t like cheese. So I was getting pretty hungry.
“Around 10pm your mom was going through some labor pains, but they told us it would be at least another few hours.
“I was really hungry so I casually asked the nurse if there was a fast food place nearby that I could run to real quick.
“Before the nurse even had a chance to answer, your mom screeched at me and asked ‘are you really thinking of leaving me during labor to go out and get something to eat – even though I’ve had nothing to eat all day?!?’
“Of course, upon hearing that I knew what the right answer should be and I said “no, I’ll stay here with you – I wasn’t that hungry in the first place.
“And that was that – I didn’t go anywhere to eat, I only asked if there was someplace nearby and obviously your mom still brings it up to this day”.
After a minute or two the boy asked “So, it basically sounds like the same kind of thing – how exactly is it different from when I was born?”
“Because” I said “this time I know where the closest place to eat is”.