Sunday, November 25, 2018

"Laughter Is a Nurse's Best Medicine"

By Jerry Zezima
Hearst Connecticut Media Group
Being a guy these days is nothing to sneeze at, especially since we are often needled about what wimps we are. This point was made recently by a nurse who tickled my funny bone while giving me a flu shot.

“Men really are babies,” said Cristina Donnelly, who has been a registered nurse for 20 years, during which time she has seen guys scream, cry and even faint at the sight of a needle.

“I promise not to do any of those things,” I said as I rolled up my sleeve. “I can withstand a lot of pain, as long as it’s somebody else’s.”

“You’re very brave,” said Cristina. “I can’t say that about most guys. The worst are the ones who are all tatted up. I’ve said to them, ‘Somebody used a needle to give you these tattoos. It must have taken a lot longer and hurt a lot more than a flu shot.’ I think the reason they don’t mind getting tattoos is that they’re drunk.”

“Does this mean I should have done shots before getting a shot?” I asked.

“No,” Cristina answered. “But you might want to consider it if you get a tattoo.”

“Never,” I said. “With my luck, there’d be a typo.”

“I’m also a baby delivery nurse,” said Cristina. “You wouldn’t believe the guys whose wives are giving birth. One time a cop almost passed out while his wife was in labor. We had to tell her to stop pushing while we gave him oxygen. It took us five minutes to resuscitate him.”

“When I had my first kidney stone, a nurse told me it’s the male equivalent of childbirth,” I said. “I told her that at least I wouldn’t have to put the stone through college.”

“I bet you needed a shot to ease the pain,” Cristina said.

“I sure did,” I replied. “And I didn’t faint.”

Cristina’s husband, Pearse, wouldn’t have fainted, either.

“He’s a paramedic,” she noted. “He’s a wimp at home, but on the job, he’s amazing.”

Cristina, 46, said older daughter Olivia, 16, wants to be a nurse and younger daughter Madison, 14, wants to be a psychologist.

“She can analyze guys who are afraid of shots,” I said.

“She’d make a fortune,” replied Cristina, who wanted to be in theater.

“As an actress?” I wondered. “You’d have to break a leg and you’d need a nurse to give you a shot.”

“No,” Cristina. “I was a production assistant intern for an Off-Broadway show called ‘Four Dogs and a Bone.’ I met Debra Messing before she became famous. She couldn’t have been nicer. Then I decided I wanted to be a nurse, so I went back to school. After I graduated, I worked at New York Presbyterian and saw celebrities like David Letterman and Jerry Seinfeld.”

“Were they wimps?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” Cristina said. “I didn’t give them shots. But like them, I’m a comedian on the job, although I’m funnier in Spanish.”

“What’s the secret of giving a flu shot?” I inquired.

“Distraction,” Cristina said. “And humor. I talk to people to put them at ease. Before they know it, I’ve given them the shot.”

“I’m ready for mine,” I said.

“Too late,” Cristina said with a smile. “I’ve already given it to you.”

“It didn’t hurt,” I said.

“And you didn’t scream, cry or faint,” Cristina said. “I’m proud of you.”

“When it comes to being a good nurse,” I told her, “you’re a real shot in the arm.”

Copyright 2018 by Jerry Zezima

Sunday, November 11, 2018

"Painter's Helper Is Off the Wall"

By Jerry Zezima
Hearst Connecticut Media Group
According to a cherished old adage, which I know is true because I just made it up, if you can’t stand the kitchen, turn up the heat.

That’s what my wife, Sue, recently did because she wanted me to take down the wallpaper that had adorned the kitchen for the past dozen years.

“It’s practically new,” I told her.

“It’s old,” Sue countered. “And ugly. I want it down.”

The last time I tried to remove wallpaper, in an upstairs bedroom when Sue and I moved into our house 20 years ago, it came off in pieces the size of lollipop wrappers. It took me three days. I could have saved a lot of time by using a flamethrower.

Thanks to those haunting flashbacks, I convinced Sue to hire Mike the Paint Guy.

Mike, otherwise known as Michael Beck of Island Luxor Painting, turned out to be a good worker who was having a bad week.

The day he was supposed to start, he had to take his father to the hospital. Then he had a flat tire. Worst of all, he had a calcium deposit in his shoulder that required surgery.

“The doctor said I have the body of a 64-year-old man,” said Michael, who is 32.

“I’m 64,” I told him. “My body is nothing to write home about, and neither is my head, but at least I don’t need surgery.”

“Maybe,” Michael said, “you can help me take down the wallpaper.”

“Sure,” I said. “I’m off the wall myself, so I’d be happy to assist.”

As Michael prepped the walls with a solution to make the paper come off easily, he asked, “What solution did you use when you took down the wallpaper upstairs?”

My response: “Beer.”

“Wallpaper is tricky,” Michael said. “Nobody uses it anymore. I’ve taken a lot of wallpaper down, but I haven’t put any up.”

When he got it down in the kitchen, he said, “Now I have to spackle. It will cover up the holes.”

“Spackle is also good for covering up wrinkles,” I noted. “I put it on my face before I go to bed.”

“You do look young,” Michael said, “so I guess it works.”

Next, he revved up an electric sander to smooth out the walls.

“May I try?” I asked.

“Help yourself,” Michael said as he handed me the whirring disc.

“This thing could give me a close shave,” I said.

“Yes,” said Michael, “but then you’d need more spackle to cover up the nicks and cuts.”

On one of the walls was a phone number. It was for a woman named Bernice, which also was the name of one of our deceased cats. I called, but the number was out of service.

“It’s dead, too,” I told Michael.

Now it was time to paint. Michael’s shoulder was bothering him, so I said, “You’ll have a brush with disaster. Let me help.”

As I did one of the walls, I remarked, “I’m on a roll!”

It caused Michael even more pain. But he worked through it and, almost single-handedly over the course of a week, and despite my feeble assistance, did a fantastic job.

“I love it!” Sue exclaimed. “Now I want the hallway painted.”

“You’ll have to wait until Michael is out of surgery,” I said.

“Then you can do the prep work,” she said.

“OK,” I replied. “Buy some spackle and an electric sander. And don’t forget the beer.”

Copyright 2018 by Jerry Zezima