“You studying medicine?” says the wheezy phlebotomist as he searches for a good vein on my outstretched arm.
“Ouch. What?” I say, wincing as the needle pokes my quivering vein like a nervous virgin on prom night. After a few awkward moments, he’s in and taking care of business.
Having scored, the phlebotomist, or Mr. P as I call him, jams a cotton ball on my deflowered flesh and slaps on a bandage. His technique has all the grace of the Incredible Hulk dressing a Barbie doll. I unclench my eyelids and glance at the plastic chair in the corner. Propped on my purse is the book I’m reading, “When You Are Engulfed in Flames” by David Sedaris. I consider the skull on the cover.
“Oh, my book; it’s David Sedaris,” I say.
Mr. P — a towering man well into his fifties, face blooming with gin blossoms, hands big enough to crush a puppy with one squeeze, and a generous tuft of white chest hair erupting from the top of his is button-down — knits his brow as he considers the name David Sedaris.
“Is he a scientist?”
Where’s he going with this, I wonder. Maybe he’s never met a cigarette-smoking skeleton.
I explain that Sedaris is a humorist, author, and radio commentator. Then I wonder silently if commentator is even a real word. I’m pretty sure it isn’t, but decide it wouldn’t matter to a phlebotomist who doesn’t know who David effin Sedaris is.
“NPR?” I say, hopeful this would stir his memory.
“NPR, the radio station? Nah, don’t listen to it,” he says with a wet wheeze. (Mr. P is seriously the most unsettling phlebotomist I’ve ever met.)
As Mr. P labels the blood-filled vials and yanks off latex gloves, he stops to tell me his son is very smart. So smart, in fact, he began reading books at two and now is an international rep for a major publishing house. (Wow!) The change in topic lets me know Mr. P isn’t interested in any more small talk about this skeleton named David Sedaris.
Thing is, now that I am in love with David Sedaris and plan on marrying him someday, I assume I’m joining the worldwide fan club. Late to the show sure, but going over the storyline with anyone who’ll listen so that no one will suspect I slipped in through the back door.
OK, here’s how I change the subject: If you are not a wheezing phlebotomist and you know who Sedaris is, you still might not know that Sedaris kept a pet spider in his house in Normandy, France. It was a tegenaria duellica named Alice. He faithfully captured and fed her flies. He even took her to Paris on a train. Then, the situation got out of control and he had to let her go.
Does that story ever sound familiar to me. See? We are kindred spirits.
*Yeah, yeah, I know he doesn’t swing in my direction.