Sunday, April 11, 2021

"Dotting My Eye"

By Jerry Zezima


I spy with my swollen eye, which got that way because of a stye.


It may come as no surprise that when I took poetry in high school, I wasn’t a very good pupil. That my pupil was recently covered by an inflamed eyelid was a big surprise to me, especially after my wife, Sue, told me to put a hot teabag on the painful peeper and started calling me “Winky.”


I became a double-visionary when I felt something — an eyelash, a piece of dirt, possibly a ham sandwich — in my left eye.


Wisely avoiding the temptation to use a metal rake to remove the ocular invader, I stuck a finger in my eye, though not in the same stern manner that Moe often poked Larry, Curly or Shemp in order to disabuse his fellow Stooges from abusing him.


It didn’t work. So I tried flooding my eye with shower water. That only compounded the problem. So did an inadvertent squirting of soap, which burned like hell.


A couple of days later, my left eyelid had ballooned to the size of — you guessed it — a balloon, though without “Happy birthday!” written on it.


My lid was so red that if I had stood on a street corner, cars may actually have stopped.


“What’s going on, Winky?” Sue asked cheerily.


“My eyelid is about to erupt like Mount St. Helens,” I grumbled.


“You have a stye,” she informed me. “Put a hot teabag on it.”


Sue should know, not only because she has had this ailment herself, but because she drinks approximately half the world’s supply of tea. If she saved a year’s worth of bags, they would be piled as high as the Empire State Building.


I boiled some water, poured it in a cup, dunked in a teabag, pressed it to my eyelid and let out a scream that rattled the windows.


“You have to make the teabag as hot as you can stand it,” Sue said.


“That’s all I can stand,” I replied, echoing Popeye. “I can’t stands no more.”


So I went to a walk-in clinic and saw Dr. Lindsey Schuster, who asked if I use glasses.


“Only those that hold wine or beer,” I responded.


“You have a stye,” she said before prescribing an antibiotic ointment. “If it doesn’t work, you should see an eye doctor.”


The ointment didn’t work, so I went to see Dr. Howard Weinberg.


“You have a stye,” he said.


“My wife told me to put a hot teabag on it,” I told him.


“What happened?” Dr. Weinberg wondered.


“It scalded my eyelid,” I reported. “And the caffeine kept my eye open all night.”


“I’ve seen a lot more styes lately,” he said. “They’re caused by the face masks people wear. Their breath goes into their eyes.”


“What if they have bad breath?” I asked.


“Then,” Dr. Weinberg answered, “they’ll get stink eye.”


“What can I do to get rid of the stye?” I wanted to know.


“Get a baked potato, wrap it up nice and hot, and put it on your eye,” Dr. Weinberg said.


“Will that help?” I asked.


“No,” he replied. “But at least you’ll have something to eat.”


The good doctor, who believes that laughter is the best medicine, then gave me an eye exam. I passed with limping colors.


“You have 20/30 vision in your left eye and 20/40 in your right,” he said. “Not bad for someone of your age. And definitely not as bad as this one patient who put a paddle over one eye, covered his other eye with his hand and said, ‘I can’t see.’ And he didn’t even have a stye.”


“What about mine?” I asked.


“Put a warm compress on it,” Dr. Weinberg said. “And enjoy the baked potato.”


Copyright 2021 by Jerry Zezima


Sunday, April 4, 2021

"On Puns and Needles"

By Jerry Zezima


Now that I have gotten my second dose of the coronavirus vaccine and am suffering no ill effects, aside from a troublesome bout of incoherence, which I was actually born with, I can say without fear of contradiction or incarceration that the pandemic is finally over.


Or more accurately, according to the nice and knowledgeable person who gave me the shot, it will likely end soon, thanks to my heroic and entirely questionable efforts.


I did my part to eradicate this once-in-a-century scourge by going with my wife, Sue, who had already received her second shot and accompanied me in case I fainted, to Stony Brook University on Long Island, New York, a major vaccination site with every important medical feature except, unfortunately, an open bar.


As I did the first time, I drove to the building that served as vaccine central. After Sue and I walked in and had our temperatures taken, I was directed to a table where a pleasant staffer named Charles asked to see my paperwork.


“Because I’m getting my second dose,” I said, “does that mean the pandemic is over?”


“I hope so,” Charles responded.


Tiffany, who sat next to him, added, “Now I don’t have to get my second one.”


“I’m here to help,” I told her.


“I appreciate it,” she said.


“I figured you were going in alphabetical order,” I said. “And since my last name begins with a Z, this is the end of the virus.”


“That explains why people are clearing out,” Tiffany said.


“They probably saw me coming,” I said. “I have that effect.”


“I’ve heard that about you,” Tiffany said as Charles handed me my paperwork and, very politely, told me where to go.


I walked down a hallway with Sue to a door with a sign that read: “Second shots.”


We stood in line for about five minutes before I was directed to a station where Olivia would be giving me the vaccine.


“How did you react to your first shot?” she asked.


“Just fine,” I said. “I liked it so much, I came back for a second one.”


“Maybe you could come back for a third,” Olivia suggested.


“I’d come back for a fifth,” I replied, “but you don’t serve alcohol, do you?”


“No, but I will rub alcohol on your arm before I give you the injection,” answered Olivia.


“I’ve heard that some people get bad reactions to their second shots,” I said.


“You might have a sore arm,” Olivia said.


“Does this mean I won’t be able to pitch in the major leagues?” I asked.


“I’m afraid so,” she replied. “You might also have a fever and chills.”


“Then I’d be running hot and cold,” I noted.


“Any other concerns?” Olivia inquired.


“I’m naturally lightheaded, so how will I know the difference?” I wondered. “And what if I become incoherent?”


“Then your wife will ignore you,” Olivia said.


Sue, who was standing nearby, nodded and said, “I do that anyway.”


“Your wife is smart,” Olivia said.


“You have a point,” I noted.


“Actually, I do,” said Olivia, who used it to painlessly give me the shot.


“Do you realize,” I said as I buttoned my shirt and took a card signifying I was fully vaccinated, “that when the pandemic is over, the only people wearing masks will be bank robbers?”


“Until then,” Olivia said, “you should still wear one when you go out. But you are doing your part to eradicate the virus.”


“So far, it’s kept me off the streets,” I said. “But pretty soon, I’ll be on the loose again. And no one will be safe from my stupid jokes.”


“In that case,” Olivia said, “people may have to be vaccinated against you.”


Copyright 2021 by Jerry Zezima