The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It


Once in awhile we have the contents of a rather large container of lemon juice dumped on us.  That happened to me years ago (It happened to be Ash Wednesday) when I walked out of my apartment building, saw the sidewalks covered with a sheet of ice and said to myself, “Self, you’d better be careful or you’ll slip and fall and do some bodily injury to your frame.”

No sooner had these words run through my head than I slipped and fractured my right elbow – although at the time I thought it was just a bad bruise.  I went to work and as the day progressed the pain in my right arm kept getting worse so I saw a doctor in Chicago’s Loop to have a look at it.  Diagnosis – I had fractured my arm in the fall.

The immediate prescription was that I was issued a sexy black sling and was to rest my arm in it.  But a few days later the arm really began to hurt so I went back to this physician for further treatment.

After X-raying my wounded limb he realized that some blood had filled the fracture and that was the source of my pain.  So he took out a needle the size of the former Soviet Union, inserted it into my arm and extruded the blood that had collected.  (This was not nearly as painful as I thought that it would be and I actually felt a great deal of relief after he had finished.)

Feeling better the afternoon that he conducted his extrusion I decided (it being Friday night and all) that I would stop by after work at the local singles bar which I frequented from time to time.  (Being single they allowed me in.)

Frankly, I’m not really a bar person.  I can sit there for hours on end and while I would like to think that I’m warm and welcoming, I’m generally not overly interested in “bar talk” and only went to these places for a bit of company.  Generally I sat there, had a few adult beverages and then went home without speaking to anyone.

Of course to the scenario I just described there is always a Plan “B”.   I cannot tell you how many times a guy has come over to me and said, “Is this seat occupied?,” pointing to the obviously vacant chair that is next to me.

“No,” I would say, please make yourself comfortable.

The conversation would continue, “You know – the reason I came over is that you have the most beautiful warm eyes.  You look like a very caring and understanding person.”  (Well, who doesn’t like a compliment)?

“Thank you,” I would say. 

“Well, listen,” says the admirer of my sensitivity, I recently broke up with my girl friend and I was wondering if I could ask you for advice.”  Then would follow a two hour session where I would try not to roll my very understanding eyes or think to myself, “Why does this always happen to me?”

These conversations are probably the most important reasons that my visits to this establishment were infrequent.  Plus leaving without meeting anyone who had an interest other than asking my opinion about a failed relationship tended to undermine my self-confidence.  I mean, was I really so totally unattractive that I had to play Sigmund Freud in a room full of self-centered egomaniacs whose Ids were in overdrive?

Well, I set for myself a two drink limit that night.  (Since it was my right arm that was injured I would have to use the left one to hoist the beverages to my lips.  That was probably okay since for most of us right-handed people our musculature in that arm is better developed than its counterpart – so I hoped to even the score a bit).

I had barely found a seat  and ordered my drink when, like a horde of vultures descending on the newly dead carcass of an animal, I was besieged by some of the most eligible bachelors in the place.  I think there were at least seven or eight who leered at me with sympathy.

“Oh, you poor thing.  What happened to you?”

Needless to say, I would never admit that I was clumsy so I invented a small fabrication.  (Okay, it was a big fabrication).

“I was skiing down the slopes at Innsbruck when in my attempt to avoid hitting an Alpine deer I unfortunately ran into a tree thus causing my injury.”  The outpouring of sympathy was extraordinary – and the number of drinks that I had purchased for me far exceeded the number I could safely consume.

So you see, from lemon we can truly make lemonade.  But the real moral of the story is that following Petula Clark’s advice in her song, “Downtown” – if you are lonely by all means go downtown.  But if you really want to have a good time, make sure that you stop by your local medical supply store and buy a sling that you can wear for your appearance there.

P. S.  I kept that sling for many years.

Comments on: "ON OPPORTUNITY" (9)

  1. I like this funny and clever story. I have a similar technique I use when I go to a crowded movie theater, and don’t want anyone sitting next to me. I wrap my entire head and face in ace bandages, leaving slits for my eyes and a small hole to breath out of. Not only do I get some sympathy, but I also get both seats on each side of me vacant. And often Someone will ask if I want anything at the concession stand and They’ll get me popcorn which I stuff into the small hole one kernel at a time.

  2. Too funny – but you’ve given me an inspiration if I should decide to watch the Oscars at home this weekend. I wonder if Gracie can prepare the popcorn for me. Now be honest – do you really do that? If so – I give you credit for much inventiveness!!!

    • No Juwanna, LOL, I don’t really do that. That would make me a curious fellow. Even more curious than I am now.

      • Drat, Mike. The next time I find a movie that I want to see I’m going to try it and will let you know how it goes.
        Perhaps there will be a revival of old horror movies. I think it would be as much fun going that way to “The Invisible Man” as the kids used to have at “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

  3. You’re forcing me to admit something of my devious nature here. I found the sling works getting an upgrade on a plane, but do you know what works better? You know those bands they put on you in hospital to make sure they get you for the right operation? Keep it! Go up to a check in counter with that on when you know there’s no seats available and in many cases a seat does become available if you can put on your most pathetic look. LOL

    • Clever if indeed devious. Only two problems. First, I haven’t done a lot of flying recently. Second, the last surgical procedure I had was when I was eight and had my tonsils removed. They didn’t have bands back then to protect you from the medical establishment – only parents.

  4. I love your sense of humor. This was funny! 🙂

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