Two hospitalizations preceded my ostomy surgery. The first one started in November, 1963, just after I'd turned twenty-one, and lasted one and a half months. The second commenced in April, 1964, with the surgery that July. The hospital had a social worker whose job was to visit patients and provide encouragement. “Oh, you're doing so well.” “You look terrific this morning.” “You'll be out of here in no time.” I suppose the one word for this gal's work product was HOPE, and she looked good doing it too. She was tall, slender, blonde, with a smile that broke right through my belly pains. She had more than that, in fact. One day she got me out of that gawd-awful hospital bed and we walked over to the window. “You want to see my car?” she offered. She pointed into the parking lot several floors below. And there it was, gleaming like a gem in a pile of rocks: a beautiful, golden, Jaguar XKE, the model with the long, lean snout, the recessed headlights, and the small, puckered mouth, like an invitation to a kiss, as the grill. “When you get well,” she told me, “I'll let you take it for a spin.” But I was not doing well. I did not know it when they wheeled me down the hallway on that gurney toward surgery that the odds were against my making it back. Perhaps my family knew, but nobody told me. Then, following the surgery, I did get well. I came back from the eighty-three pounds to which I'd wasted away. And I returned to that hospital to thank the staff that had helped get me through that hell. I saw the blonde with the hot car too. “Can I take it for a spin now?” I was having one of my stupid moments. There was no way that chick was going to hand me the keys to that XKE. Hope, the social worker's stock in trade, had been her proffer when I needed it, but I didn't need it any more, I suppose. I was now up, out of that hospital bed, ambulatory, convalesced, surgically repaired, but now that shiny XKE needed repairs, she claimed. It wasn't running right. Maybe some other time. She may have had a Jaguar XKE, that blonde, but she was really just a Ford Falcon kind of girl.
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