Sometimes, I get anxious. Ironically, the condition is called anxiety. I got it one day when I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in. I was pretty wired so they took me right away and later said “If you were a board game you’d be The Game of Life with the spinner missing its arrow.”
Otherwise, I am completely normal: I walk, I talk, I eat, I sleep, I dream of accidentally on purpose nuclear war and famine and being eaten by a zombie and the rapture happening while I’m in/on the jake. While out walking I sometimes stop and point to the heavens and say “Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird…it’s a plane…it’s…wow, you know what, dude? I think that’s a rapidly plummeting truckload of North Korean cement.”
And yes, on occasion, I bounce my leg. It’s hardly noticeable unless the front windows rattle or a stink bug falls off the wall or a mini tsunami sends the pea soup over the lip of the tureen. Or maybe you’re one of those superior people who notice every ding in everybody’s dong, but haven’t the ding-dong decency to shut up about it.
“You’re bouncing your leg. Did you know that?”
“I can do both legs at the same time,” I respond teeth-grindingly.
“It’s like a cop tasered your leg.”
“Wow,” I say, “don’t look now, but a truck load of cement is about to turn you into a patio.”
Hearing this, people with their dead eyes and puckered behinds offer you a sweet-and-sour smile of pity. But they always, always take a precautionary peak at the sky, because they have places to go and people to pass judgment on, and a cement bath would ruin everything.
We, the people prone to the occasional leg bounce, are often given friendly advice by well-intentioned loved ones: “Stop bouncing your leg!” Or, sometimes, the abrupt, tough love approach: “STOP THE DANG LEG BOUNCING!” The unloved say: “Quit bouncing your leg, you faroukhead, you’re jiggling my grandmother’s bust of Elvis off the shelf.”
Pardon me a moment. My Smart Ass phone is making a noise like someone hitting a calliope-playing moose over the head with a bag of sonar pings.
“Hello?” I suggest.
“Hello! This is Heather at account services and we’re calling about your credit card account.”
I’m feeling anxious, again. If my leg could talk it would be saying bouncybouncybouncybouncybouncy.
Sigh. I suppose that somewhere in this world there really is someone named Heather who works in some company’s account services department and who places perky-yet-ominous calls suggesting you have a credit card problem but there’s a perky solution that will cost you mere thousands.
I punch the red button, cutting Heather off in mid-exclamation point. I know she doesn’t exist. I’m also PRIT-ee sure I have no credit card problem.
Just as I am also pretty sure that last night’s dream was merely a dream. I’m on a plane and the pilot announces “Ladies and gentlemen, we have a life and death emergency situation. Is there anyone on board who can play the banjo? The five-string banjo. In the Earl Scruggs style. Please, not the Pete Seeger style. If so, see a flight attendant, immediately.”
When pilots make that kind of announcement, first of all, it sounds like they’re speaking into a can of Durham’s Rock Hard Water Putty. Second of all, they’re urgently looking for a doctor or a priest or a stock broker and there’s nothing I can do to help.
But this time I clearly recognize the raison d’être moment of my life. I flag down a flight attendant with the flag knit (crocheted? weaved? shoplifted?) by my mother for just such an occasion. Breathlessly, I blurt “I’m a banjo player. Of the Scruggs persuasion.” And she says “Oh, thank God! Quick, where is it?” I say “Where’s what?” She says “Your banjo.” I say, “Um, it’s back in Baltimore.” And she screams “Jesus wept!”
Moments before I wake up, I notice her name tag: Heather.
I hurry back to my conditioner. I ask what they make of my condition now. They say it’s complicated. If I were a baseball bat, I’d be an ash. If I were a duck I’d be Daffy. If I were a sandwich I’d be a Reuben, hold the cabbage and if Reuben comes in, don’t let on.
“Seriously,” said my air conditioner, “the pilot should have said ‘a life or death situation.’ It can’t be both. By the way, you’re bouncing your leg, did you know that?”
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013-2018, all rights reserved.