For example, shortly before my husband was to be discharged from the navy, (and this is NOT the "not quite so smoothly" part) he injured his leg and had to have a cast put on and worn for at least three months. His gait, therefore, was quite uneven in that he had to keep the injured leg stiff while the uninjured leg bent as usual when he walked. Such was the adoration of the son for the father, that Philip was able to perfectly mimic this gate for the entire three months.
It was fascinating to watch. Whether or not he knew he was being observed, the child never flexed his stiff right leg. As you can well imagine, this made ordinary things like climbing stairs and bath time especially fun for Mommy and son. Daddy, on the other hand, did not seem to want to play. In fact, during a whispered after bedtime conference, daddy was very strong in suggesting that mommy make an appointment with the clinic pediatric psychologist who would observe Philip's behavior.
Embarrassed though I was, I dutifully made the appointment. Following brief greetings and introductions, doctor and child ambled away to a huge playroom, one wall of which was glass and actually a one-way mirror. Our nervous noses glued to the cool service, Phil and I watched as the doctor led the boy to a table on which he had placed a colorful play telephone. While the child investigated his new table toys, the doctor quietly crossed the huge room and sat at a desk on which a real telephone sat.
Within minutes the play telephone rang. After scanning the room and noticing that the doctor was obviously busy with a call, Philip answered his play phone. Very much to his surprise, he heard aloud and through the ear piece, "Hello, this is doctor Ex. Is Philip there?" We stared incredulously at each other. Our son did the same at the doctor who responded with a questioning smile targeted at the boy-patient.
Within seconds, the father flash-limped to the door banging loudly. Very few hushed words were exchanged, our child was summoned and we made a brisk family exit. On the ride home, we chattered on about what a funny and odd little fellow the doctor was. We stopped for ice cream and when we got home, Philip shared his with Max while I asked my husband whose jacket he thought was straighter now. We had no knowledge of this psychologist's technique and of course I thought we also had no reason to find out.
But. People are not always what. . .
This can also be said of animals. You may recall the harrowing tale of the mix-up between Max and Fritz. If you don't, please look back through last year's posts. Fritz was one of our Lemon-Haired ladies.
Because of our profession, is this aberrant behavior phenomenon shines brightly in my memory through members of our coworkers and treaters. A few years after starting our life in Norfolk (although these may not be cause and effect) I developed several gastric ulcers. After several treatment modalities were tried and failed we were very excited to find out that the navy was the first Medical System to use what is known as endoscopy. YES, the first long, wide, black tube through which the doctor can look down and see the inside of the patient's stomach, was presented for testing to Portsmouth Naval Hospital.
Nervous for many reasons, I was absolutely panicked when I was wheeled in to the treatment room where the procedure would be performed. Standing there too greet me was a tall, gangly, lab coat-clad Ichabod Crane-looking grinning physician. He looked like a kid on Christmas morning. Basking in the admiration of 20 or so interns and residents, he merrily explained every aspect of the scope's performance. I had been given one 5 milligram tablet of Valium. I was shivering but I listened as he prattled on for about 20 minutes about what we were all going to see.
Lest you depart from this exercise (Not soon enough, I'm sure.) with the notion that our experience with the unexpected is confined to things medical, I simply must serve up a soupcon of theatrical falderal. While still in the 'Dutch colonial' period, I received a call from a director-friend whose normal modus operandum was borderline hysteria/idiosyncrasy. On this day, the envelope was perilously perched at the proverbial edge.
Stan, of Polish extraction and out-of-the-ordinary inclination, had worked himself into a lather over his perceived honor extraordinaire of hosting an international touring acting troupe from Poland. At the time, his "Actors' Theater" was calling an historical Southern library in the downtown historical Norfolk area 'home base'. A credit to his ingenuity, the lecture hall had been transformed, the original speakers' podia now flanked by Greek-infused papier mache proscenia. For this unusual 'set', Stan had the crew (following the advance instructions of the guest director) tear out the flooring, leaving an excavation on/into which a 'stage' would be poured.
Stan knew my Dad was Polish. Therefore, in Stan's world, would have command of the language. NOT. Ignoring my protests/feeble attempts at sharing the fact that I may have retained a meagre comprehensive vocabulary and NO expressive ability, he had moved on from the embarrassing plight of having to produce an advance interview with this unusual visitor to confirming my arrival at the 'theater' in twenty minutes, prepared to conduct said interview while the local evening news cameras rolled.
Frantically dashing around, muttering incoherently in English, I assembled a 'Mary-Tyler-Moore-ish' white pant suit and heels, stuffed a notepad and pen into a shoulder bag, and, with a shining pale face one can only elicit with Ivory soap, headed for the door. Of course mental software picked up a child's query of OUR destination, so I reflexively shoved several box cars, an emergency baggie of cheerios and juice into the bag, this time taking my son along.
Turning onto the ancient cobblestoned street, I noted it was lined with enormous parked moving vans, motors running, drivers smoking while waiting. The ubiquitous caravan of local remote broadcast vehicles, occupants testing equipment, completed the impromptu "Cirque de Solei". Out of breath from bounding up the library steps, out of practice in wearing heels and out of balance and patience from the first two misadventures, I crashed right into Stan and 'Himself", attempting conversation in animated, broken Polish/English.
Several grips grabbed my child and with lots of tickling and giggling, he was gone. Feigning interest in his ultimate whereabouts, I regained composure while attempting a hair smoothing to better observe his exit. Our Polish guest, feigning NOTHING, moved in deftly so that our arms were brushing when I turned back. A beaming Stan was suddenly a memory and, alone with the stranger, I had no choice but to follow as he physically guided me into the 'stage' area, all the while delivering some annoyingly ebullient Polish rap. Note to Self: "Oozing grace from every pore, he oiled his way across the floor;. . . Never leaving us alone, never have I ever known a rud-der pest." - My Fair Lady
In a flash, I was perilously close to sliding into what I can only describe as loamy-smelling, dark, moist red earth - an entire filled-in excavation of it. Beaming, the director hoisted himself down, demonstrating a three to four feet depth of this treasure while, with a gentle but firm tug, he lowered me to his side. "Poland. You stand now IN Poland." (And this suit must burned, after I murder Stan, find my son and flee.)