Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Kalamazoo Diaries: Medieval Medicine

Medieval Medicine
“I’d like to see your new book on Medieval Medicine.” The thin voice of a slight auburn-haired medievalist drifted into my ears which were still ringing from the nuns at the next booth shrieking their greetings.

“Sure. Here you go.” We had just published a 600 pager on medieval medicine which had garnered a lot of attention in these early hours.
She positioned herself right in front of my stand and did not move. A minute passed, then another.

Another medievalist tried to access my stand.
“’Scuse me, miss.” He was a southern medievalist who spoke but did not look like a character from David Simon’s Treme. “Ah’d like to buy this here book on medieval birds but you are in the way.”

She didn’t move.
“I can help you over here.” Said Anna.
“Ummmm. Hey. Miss. Can you take the book over to those chairs. You are most welcome to sit and take a look at it over there.”
Nothing. She was catatonic. Her gaze not moving from the chapter on medieval sedation.
“Are you allright, miss? Do you need a doctor?”
Suddenly, she slumped down in front of my stand, curled up in a fetal position.
“My pill box. My pill box. Can you get it for me. Quickly.”
“Where is it?”
“In my purse. Please. I haven’t much time.”

I find her pink purse and dump out the contents. Sure enough, there is a little pearl pill box. The clasp is easy to open and I present her with the pills. Gratefully, she take 2 and downs them. Slowly she gets up, but she is pale and unsteady….

“Listen bitch, give me the fucking book on medicine!”
“Don’t just stand there looking at me, give the fucking book on medicine.”
“I’m sorry, Miss. Are you OK?”
“Shut the fuck up, OK, and give me the fucking book!”
“I can’t just give it to you. You need to pay for it.”
“How much is it...a buck, 4 bucks, a billion bucks...” she opened up her purse and dumped the contents out onto my stand. I noticed two full prescription bottles. Vicotin. Oxycontin.

We had a mad medievalist on our hands. A very high mad medievalist.

“It’s 40 dollars for the book.” I said calmly hoping she would just pay and leave the booth.
“I don’t have 40 bucks, bitch. I have 4 bucks. And that’s what I am giving you.”
Anna heard the commotion and came to the stand.
“What’s the problem, Nat.”
“Look Bitch, this bitch won’t give me the book on medieval medicine.”
“I am not a bitch.” Said Anna. “I referee basketball games with men whose scrotums weigh more than you.”
“Did you just say scrotum?” said a man who clearly had begun the evening mead hour in the early morning. “That reminds me of a little song that I learned at summer camp in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.”
“Wait...” I said. “I went to camp in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Olin-Sang-Ruby. “
“You mean the ole kike camp on Lac LaBelle?” he slurred. “Nah, I’m a good Catholic boy. I went to all-boys camp across from the monestary.”
“Oh honey...don’t sing the Scrotum song. Please don’t sing...” said the high medievalist.

Scrotum, Scrotum,
It's my wrinkly, crinkly bag of skin.
Scrotum, Scrotum,
It's the thing I keep my testes in.

By now, all the medievalists in the Exhibits Hall were focused on our booth. All 3500 of them.

“OK, miss.”
“I am not a ‘miss’, bitch. This guy is my man!”
“OK. So, I can’t let you have the book. You need to pay me for it.”
“How much is it?” her husband asked.
“40 bucks.”
“40 bucks!!! For this? Not happening. C’mon honey, let’s go.”
“I am not leaving this fucking booth without the fucking book!”
“I think you are leaving this ‘fucking booth’ without your ‘fucking book’. Said Anna.
“The fuck I am.” She said and quick as a stoned medievalist can be, she reached into Anna’s breast pocket, grabbed the taser ring and slapped me across the cheek.

“Motherfucker!!” I screamed.
“Motherfucker!!” screamed Anna.

“Take that your scrotum sucking basketball headed bitches!” She grabbed the book and took off toward the exit, her husband stumbling after her.
“What is it my child?” said the steady even voice of Father Whattawaste who was rubbing his elbow and looking down at the fallen medievalist who had just crashed into him.
“I’m sorry for my wife, Father. She isn’t quite herself.” Apologized the husband. “I hope she didn’t hurt you.”
Father Whattawaste kneeled down beside the medievalist.
“Are you Ok?” The crazed look lifted from the medievalist as she looked into the handsome face of Father Whattawaste.
“Are you a movie star?” She asked.
“Nope. Just a former child actor. How can I help you, my child. You seem to have a bit of the devil in you.”
“She takes a lot of pills, Father. Lots and lots of pills. She says they make her happy.”
“There are other ways to be happy, my child.”
“Tell me, Father. Tell me how to be happy.”
“You need to give yourself to God, my child. You need to find the path to Jesus. Only He can save you.”
Anna whispered to me: “Can you believe this is happening.”
Father Whattawaste took her hand and announced to all assembled.
“This woman has strayed from the path of the Almighty. We need to pray for her forgiveness. Join me now outside at the Western Michigan University football field and together, we will pray for her.”

Father Whattawaste carried the medievalist in his arms. A line of medievalists fell into orderly step behind him.
“This is insane.” Said Anna.
“Madness.” I said.
“What do you want to do now?”

So we did. Many, many times over. We passed out on the top of Mount Snorelson to the sounds of the medievalist being baptized in a pond filled with the feces from Canadian geese.

Oy Gevalt

Kalamazoo Diaries.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Kalamazoo Diaries: It Begins Anew

It Begins Anew

And then it was evening
And then it was morning
Kalamazoo 2010.

This year, Michelle decided that she would rather go to Montreal for another conference. She claimed that her husband had to interview a 7ft Mennonite guitar player who, according to the tenets of his religion, could play guitar but not dance.

“So, you are trading up Hell with me for La Belle Hell with your hubby?” I asked accusingly.
Michelle’s face was toward her computer screen and I didn’t notice her white headphones.

I walked into my boss’ office.
“Michael, if Michelle isn’t coming with me to Kalamazoo, then who is.”
“I am.” In walked Anna. “I’m going with you. And so help me God, Nat, you are going to behave this year.”
“She’s right.” Michael said. “I don’t want to hear stories about you and monks and Stephen J. Rose.”

Stephen J. Rose. Stephen J. Rose. The pose of the Rose. The tattoo on his exposed flank. K-Zoo 4 Ever. It is all coming back to me now. An entire year gone. A move, a renovation, my son learning to read, my daughter learning to dance, Rob learning how to pick up his clothes, me learning how to brown beef in a pan without setting off the fire alarm---tremendous milestones disintegrating before my eyes and appearing clearly in their stead, the tattoo on the exposed flank of Stephen J. Rose: K-zoo 4 Ever. I feel giddy and lightheaded; the manic giggling about to erupt from my throat.

“WTF!!!” I cried out rubbing my forearm. “WTF!!!”
Anna unfolded her fingers to reveal a tiny disc.
“What the hell is that?”
“It’s a gizmo that is designed to bring you back to earth. When you get that look in your eye, I just have to put this on your arm and it shocks you to your senses.”
“That is not fucking legal!”
“It’s for your own good.” Michael said soothingly. “Really, I asked my brother who deals with people with extreme mood disorders and this sort of mild electric shock therapy works wonder.”
“I’m calling Rob. There is no way that you can do that in this country.”
Michael and Anna looked at each other sheepishly.
“Rob’s on board with this, Natalie.” said Michael.
“There is no way this side of hell that my own husband would acquiesce to this...this...this...TORTURE!”
“Rob, Rob. You are not going to believe this. Michael and Anna are planning to taser me.” My iPhone is on speaker.
“Nat, it’s not tasering. It’s...what did Michael call it...mild electric shock therapy. I did some research on the interweb. It’s fine. In fact, if it works, I might consider...”
“Rob. Have you lost your fucking mind! You can’t taser your wife!”
I looked at Michael and Anna. “I quit!”
“Nat, Rob is yelling into the phone. “You can’t quit. We need the money. We just did a massive reno. Whose going to pay for the six element stove that you don’t know how to use? What about the French door fridge? The Arts and Crafts backsplash even though you don’t know what Arts and Crafts is...or a backsplash? Come can’t quit.”

He’s right. I can’t quit. We need the money. For a moment, I think about a new career writing eloquent pornography, but this is not a realistic plan. What happens if my son sees first drafts all over my office?

“This is wrong.”
“It’s for your own good.” Said Michael. Anna nodded.
“Michelle said you were a mess last year. A mess even by your own unique standards.”
“It wasn’t that bad.” I say weakly.
“It was.” Said Michelle at the door of Michael’s office. “You were that bad. You should be grateful that it’s only mild electric shock therapy. I had suggested that they drug your morning Starbucks.”

Grateful, eh?

Kalamazoo Diaries.