Navajo Mountain Storm

Spitting Image

Originally Published October 2007

My wife spits out of her ear. Ok, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration. It's not like she can reach back and hock-a-loogie a couple of yards. I can't even tell she's doing it until we're eating and she wipes her mouth on the napkin. Then she'll discreetly reach up and dab below her right ear. I guess it's more a slobber. She hasn't always had this talent. It started about a year ago when she had surgery to have a benign tumor removed from the back of her jaw.

Because they were working on her face, she had to go to a plastic surgeon. Have you ever been to one of those doctors? What a trip! The staff wear Victoria’s Secret scrubs and advertise the doctor's handy work. It's sort of like having living (pardon the pun) display racks. "Here we have the tasteful size then there's the large and finally the jumbo Costco size."

When I walked in, I knew this surgery was going to cost somebody a lot of money. They had valet parking. When we got the forms to fill out, they directed us to a fancy waiting room. You can tell a lot about a doctor by the magazines they keep. This one had Elle, Architectural Digest, and things like that. The ones in my doctor's office are The Pregnancy Journal and Dysentery Monthly. While she filled out the forms, I flipped through one of the fashion magazines and ripped out a page that I liked.

We walked the finished forms back up to the woman behind the sliding glass window and Queen Anne gave them the insurance card. I gave them the torn page and asked, "Since she's in for a tune-up, can you make her come out like this?" I guess they heard that one before because they didn't even smile, but it might have been the Botox.

Once they had the insurance card, I was told I could wait in the super secret waiting room for paying customers. I was escorted through a locked door. Wow! I thought those frequent flyer rooms at the airport were nice, but this was heaven. It had plush leather sofa and chairs, a stocked refrigerator, more magazines with stuff I'll never be able to afford and . . . a 72 inch plasma television that you could watch anything you wanted. My doctor has a 13 inch portable that only gets the Health channel. Of course, television really doesn't exist at two in the afternoon. What the heck, even the Guiding Light looks better on a large screen.

The operation was supposed to last an hour, maybe two at the most, but when the evening news came on, I became concerned. The staff began to go home. Finally at six, I came out of the holding cell only to find the place dark. No one was around. I opened the door to the back and walked toward a light at the rear of the office. I startled some woman sitting at a desk because she asked, "Who are you?" I told her and asked what they had done with my wife.

"Oh, the surgery is running longer than expected," she replied.

"Duh," I thought but fortunately didn't say it out loud. Remember the story a couple of months ago about fixing my truck? That's what I was thinking. They didn't have all of the parts and they had to run down to the all night plastic surgery parts store to get more. I was ushered back into the cocoon.

Finally about a half hour later, some doctor type walked into the room and said they had finished. It seems the tumor had grown around a major nerve in her jaw and they had to delicately cut it out. He said she was in recovery and would be ready to go home in another hour. Feeling that he had sufficiently reassured me, he ran out and jumped over the door into his Jaguar convertible and raced off. I, on the other hand, had to wait another hour in this hell hole.

Finally a nurse came and took me back to recovery. Oh my God! Not only did she not look like the picture I gave them, she had a head bandage on that made her look like the fife guy in that Drums and Piper revolutionary war painting. I took a picture when we got home, but for some reason, I can't find it on the hard drive. The next day, my friend Jeff Goggin sent me an email describing some current misery he was going through, so I sent the photo to him. The exact words of his reply were, "What the hell happened to her?"

She's recovered now, but when they were in there rooting around, they must have put her salivary gland in backwards and that's what's causing this phenomenon. It's not a big thing and it's just another quirk that makes her special. Every once in a while though, when she's watching a movie staring one of those young actors she likes so much, I have to hand her a paper towel and tell her to wipe the drool from her ear.

Till next month.