Sunday, July 29, 2012

Everyday wonderfulness.

"The colors of a rainbow
so pretty in the sky
are also on the faces
of people going by 
I see friends shaking hands
sayin', "How do you do?"
They're really sayin'
I love you."

~ as sung by Louis Armstrong aka "Satchmo"


We were talking about everyday things. Well, not necessarily everyday things for everyone but definitely for a doctor and a patient. Nothing about it unusual.

"You know I been smoking longer than you been on this earth?"

That was how you countered my totally predictable queries about your readiness to put down the cigarettes. You were only in your early fifties so I challenged you back.

"You mean to tell me you started smoking before you even turned ten years old?"

You raised one eyebrow in the most animated way ever. "Hold up. How old you are?"

And animated right back at you I held up two hands to show you that your estimation, though flattering, was off. Four. One.

The edges of your mouth turned downward and you nodded your head. "Well hell. You know black don't crack!" We both laughed out loud. "But for real, doctor. I'm still getting my mind ready for it."

I could respect that. You weren't ready and that was understandable. Even if it wasn't forty one years that you'd been smoking, thirty two years was still quite a long time. So I did what you are supposed to do in that instance and provided you some patient education and reasons that you might want to quit.

And that was that.

So we moved on to other things like what kinds of foods you were eating and how you could get more exercise. And all nestled in that discussion was familiarity and one-line jokes that made it not feel like a visit to the doctor at all. Instead if was more like sitting on lawn furniture talking and holding glasses of ice cold sweet tea sweating with condensation.

You'd think we'd known each other much longer than the ten minutes of that visit. But this was our first encounter. Our easy exchange reminded me of how there's something about Grady that accelerates through the awkward first-meeting phases and goes straight to the good parts.

"You know what, baby?"

"What's that?" I responded. And no, I was not the least bit offended by you calling me baby because it seemed to be just as woven into the fabric of your everyday being as that thirty two year tobacco habit of yours. Plus there was something about the way that word rolled off of your tongue that made me feel special to be on the other end of it.

"I'm thinking 'bout getting me some of that nicotine gum today." You drummed your fingers on your lips, almost like you were thinking of reneging on that statement.

"It sounds like you are getting more ready to quit. That's really wonderful."

"I think so."

So I smiled at you to affirm the step you'd just taken. I suppressed the yearning to wag my finger and explain to you that you can't smoke and chew the nicotine gum and even swallowed back the not-so-encouraging truth about how it isn't really like gum-gum but more like a peppery hunk that you park between your cheek and your gums.

I just squeezed your hand and let you know that this was good. And I continued to savor all of the everydayness of you and our encounter.

"Who knows, baby? My day might be right around the corner, yeah!"

We chuckled together and you tightened your leathery hand around mine. Something about it was electric and in that moment I felt very glad to have been the person randomly led into your presence that day. I let your words marinate. Your intonation, your slang. This was not a Georgia Peach vernacular.  Southern, yes. But not from here.

"You are not from Georgia. This I know for sure." I stepped out on my assumption and made that bold proclamation. This observation amused you.

"No ma'am! Been here for a while now, but no this ain't home."

"Knew it!"

"Okay, baby. So where you thinking I'm from? Let's see how good you is!"

"How many guesses do I get?"




I narrowed my eyes and that made you laugh even more. Pursing my lips, I rubbed my chin and then pointed right at you.

"New Orleans."

"Final answer?" you deadpanned.  I loved how you played along.

"N'awlins," I stated with a firm downward head not. I banged my palm down on the desk for emphasis. "Final answer!"

You gave me an obligatory pause before reaching into your bag and pulling out a key chain with a fleur de lis hanging off of it. "New Orleans born and raised! You know it, baby!"

And I clapped and laughed in unison with you.

"You know? I can tell you ain't from here either," you finally said after my celebration subsided.

"Yeah? Take a guess?"

"Oh, I ain't good with places. But I will say that you one of them folks who ain't from the South but got the South in you. I can tell that."

A big grin spread across my cheeks because I could not imagine a more accurate description of me and my connection to this part of the country.

"California. By way of Alabama." I nodded and pointed at you again.

"Knew it. Your peoples from the South. Tha's how I could tell it's in you. You say 'yes, ma'am' like somebody that got the South in they blood. But something else sound like you from outside of these parts."

"Really? Like what?"

"How you pick out every syllable on every word. That sound like another part of the country."

"Gotcha." I stuck that on a post-it in my head for a later time.

"How you knew I was from New Orleans?"

"First, it was the way you said 'today.' It sounds kind of like 'to-dey.' I associate that with New Orleans. Or maybe South Carolina. But the 'beeebbby'? Now that clenched it."

"Yeah, beeeebbbby. Nobody say it like us in Looziana, bebbbby!"

That extra cajun that you put on top of it warmed my heart. Even though I felt like I could have sat and chatted with you for another hour, I knew I had to go and so did you. I stood from my chair and shook your hand again. Still unable to repress my grin, I told you exactly what I was thinking. "Such a pleasure meeting you."

"You, too, baby. You, too."

And that was that.

This was only our first time meeting. Perhaps the next time I can ask you about shrimp étouffée or whether gumbo tastes better with roux or without it. And maybe you'll tell me that you quit smoking altogether. Maybe.

Yes. We were talking about everyday things.  And no, nothing about it was unusual. But in it, I was reminded that in all of those everyday things--whether we are Louisiana pralines, Georgia peaches or California raisins--we are always more alike than we are not.


And this is what I love about people and about Grady and about everyday moments. This is what I love about it all. Because these things never fail to make me think to myself, What a wonderful world.

Oh yeaaaaah.

Happy Sunday, beeebbbby.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . . .Satchmo sings it best.


  1. The older I get, the more I want each and every encounter I have with another human to be something of value.
    You have the gift for that already.
    You know.

  2. What a wonderful world it could be if everyone had a doctor like you. My favorite line, "We are always more alike than we are not."


  3. Oh, yay!!! This is so beautiful and warm.


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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