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Ladies and Gents Who Lunch photos
A recent lunch in Oakland

April 16th, 2004

I Suspect
It turns out everyone over fifty has gallstones and the symptoms of gallstones that are about to be a bother manifest themselves in another part of the body. I have a hernia. Not the hiatal hernia, where the stomach attaches to the esophagus - I've known about that for twenty years - but a hernia down next to my left (been aching now for over a year) testicle. OK. They sew it up a week from Monday. They also scope the top and bottom of my alimentary canal, something I've been thinking would be a good idea for some while, but on another day and at another hour. Life in April here in Oakland. The fun has only started.

This is good, I guess. I carried a small mini-tower computer up a flight of stairs the other day, they're not all that heavy, but the hernia's been acting up. They'd talked about taking care of it at the last minute when I had the prostate removed, but evidently it wasn't visible to the surgeon. They'd do the hernia using something called a laparoscopy, a tasty little procedure that isn't quite as invasive, except they don't do laparoscopies on people who've had prostatectomies. Laparoscopies, prostatectomies, I don't even know how to spell them. I still advise all of you to skip this aging business if you're ever given the option (by little green men in a flying saucer). But then you know that.

A Friday, today, the morning spent meeting with the doctor at Stanford hospital. When I returned to the car I couldn't find my keys. I keep the car key on a ring with two other keys: one for the steering wheel locking device and one for the electric garage door. The house keys, various office keys and the mailbox key are on another ring which was safely in my front pocket. How do you lose your car keys and nothing else? In the process of dropping your pants for a medical examination? Well, yes, but they were, after examining the room, nowhere to be found.

I realized I'd picked some paper out of the cup holder in the car as I was getting out, tossing them into a trash basket in the parking garage. I couldn't have thrown the keys out with them now, could I? Tossed them with those few pieces of paper? Dropped them into the trash? Yes, I decided as I was searching my path to and from the hospital, I could have done that.

After an hour of searching (the table where I'd eaten the salad in the cafeteria, under the seat cushions in the couch where I'd waited for the nurse to arrange for the operation, the chair where they'd taken my blood pressure, the examining room where the doctor had found with apparent ease the presence of the hernia) I screwed up my courage, swallowed my pride, bent over the trash barrel and leafed through discarded papers, donuts, coffee cups and, well, car keys. Three of them. On a ring. An ominous sign of growing older? I suspect.

The photograph was taken at a recent lunch in Oakland with a Nikon D2H mounted with a 70 - 200mm f 2.8 Nikkor (Nikon) lens.