Category Archives: Humor

Goodbye Cancer. Hello Beautiful!

The cancer is gone. On Thursday September 4 the surgeon cut it out leaving an oval hole in my cheek. They placed a temporary bandage over the hole and showed me to an interior waiting room. There I attempted to read my yoga book, but couldn’t help listening to all the war stories. 

My cheek sans the cancer and with
some Sharpie marks for additional cutting.

Four other patients there–all with skin cancer made me feel I not only was not alone, but was quite lucky. The was the one woman who lost most of an ear and was hear for a procedure on her neck. There was the woman with cling wrap on her face similar to what was on my arms some years ago. My guess is she had the same solution on her face that I had on my arms, as if being marinated. If that was true it was the prep for Photodynamic Therapy, where she would later spend time under an array of lights. It didn’t work for me unfortunately. Hopefully, it worked for her.


The star of the show was a man in his sixties with his wife. Throughout my hour waiting for the doctor to check the margins of the cancer they cut out of me I listened to this poor man with a champion’s spirit. He had part of his eyelid removed, one eye brow missing, skin from his arms, one of his leg, and a nine-inch strip of skin taking from his back. I really did try to read so I don’t know if some of these parts removed where to graphed in the affected places. When the nurse came for him he said in a joking manner, “the doc wants another pound of flesh, eh?” Wow! If I could only have that attitude.

Pressure dressing

When I got back on the operating table (actually a chair similar to ones used by dental hygienists) they cut more flesh above and below the oval divot so the wound would not “pucker.” Then they sewed me up. Before the whole procedure I agreed to a “scar study.” The doctor used two different methods of sewing me up–the top half differing from the bottom. The idea was to prove a theory that a single stitch will work just as well as a double would. I asked why should I do it. His answer, “For science.” Good enough for me. Besides, I’m not the most attractive man on the planet. Who cares if the scar ended up looking weird.

They finished me off with a pressure dressing that I kept on for twenty four hours. I also had to sleep elevated. The first thing I did when I left the clinic was order a House sandwich from Roxie Deli across the street. It was a challenge stuffing that huge sandwich through my pie hole with that pressure dressing partly in the way, but I managed! 

This is what I will look
like for over a week!

That dressing was finally replaced with a conventional bandage, which was far easier to manage. I need to wear this type of bandage for nine additional days, but here is the double drag, if you don’t mind me borrowing an old Prince adage: no bicycling or yoga for ten days! This is maddening. I first figured I would be able to manage my weight during that time by cutting way down on my food intake, but three days into this trial and I am failing miserably.

I may just toss the idea of maintaining my weight and do a tuck and roll off the wagon. I can start over after September 15. In the meantime, stay positive!

Hogan, where are you going with that double-chin?

I have lived with a beard for most of my life. Add the years I wore a mustache and I have had facial hair for nearly two-thirds of my existence. I was always shocked on the rare occasions I cut the beard off and (re)discovered how alarming fat my face really was. Not Renee Zellweger cute, chubby-cheeked, more like General Burkhalter from the 60s-70s television series “Hogan’s Heroes.”
But it was big cheeks, and big cheeks only. So big, though, that–to paraphrase my wife–my eyes would get lost in my face. Now in my fifties, with pitiless gravity taking over, my weak chin has become a real eye sore. I’m glad this hairless face (sorry for the stubble, folks) is only a temporary thing.

After the operation, scheduled for inside of two weeks, I will grow it all back. Why did I shave it off so soon? Damn good question! Why didn’t I let it grow back the minute I noticed I look like a fictitious Nazi or a real quasi-Nazi (see Karl)? Another good question. I’m working on these, dear fans. I’ll get back to you.

Stay tuned!

The Tough Business of Our Mortality and the Legend of Super Stu

Evel Knievel

My father spent the night in the hospital the other night. His illness is not uncommon for a man his age. My brother had surgery a day or two before that. Then there’s me with some weird strain of chronic vertigo and skin cancer. It always comes in threes–er wait, is that fours? That’s rather macabre. Still, when this stuff happens to you and the people you love it reminds you how we are not invincible. It also reminds me of my youth. While I was so afraid of baseballs traveling in my direction in what I believed to be at a lethal velocity or riding my bicycle or trail bike faster than a crawl for fear that a limb would tear off * some kids were fearless.

Enter Stewart, the next-door neighbor who held the record for most trashcans successfully jumped with a bicycle (at least in our neighborhood). Stewart wore an old-fashioned “brain bucket”-style helmet he got from my father who no longer used it. After my dad tore up his ear while racing in an enduro or scramble, he moved to a three-quarter Bell helmet.Stewart re-painted it and, using a magic marker, created his new personae right on the side of the helmet, “Super Stu” with a four-leaf clover for luck. As far as I could tell he needed that charm. It scared the shit out of me seeing him start in the street, peddle like a madman jump the gutter with only a split-second to re-gain his form before his front wheel hit the ramp.

The passing of this helmet and this trashcan jumping is germane to the hospital story. My father raced cars, boats, and motorcycles. He found enjoyment in pushing his body. He almost died in a boat racing accident years before he got into racing dirt bikes. He wasn’t a daredevil, but he had injured himself enough to know his body had limits, but that’s about as far as it went. Super Stu was just crazy, but I like to think there is poetry in the passing down of a helmet even if it is not to his son, who, let’s face it, was a pussy.I don’t know why we set up the ramp in the area we did. While the landing zone was on grass that’s about where the OSHA-mindfulness stopped. There was precious little real estate at the end of the last trashcan before Super Stu’s family fence (and surely the Grim Reaper) stood. He had to hit the breaks the second his back wheel gained purchase.

I don’t know why we set up the ramp in the area we did. While the landing zone was on grass that’s about where the OSHA-mindfulness stopped. There was precious little real estate at the end of the last trashcan before Super Stu’s family fence (and surely the Grim Reaper) stood. Super Stu had to hit the breaks the second his back wheel gained purchase. He only had one contender (read: someone stupid enough to try to match his record). But Dan didn’t ride a Schwinn Stingray like Super Stu and everyone else, for that matter except for Dave, who had a Huffy. (Poor Dave, always the one with colored socks when everyone else had Adidas and Puma white sweat socks, green cords when everyone else had blue jeans, loner parents whereas everyone else’s parents were social.)

Dan had a route bike. Basically, a beach cruiser with a significantly longer wheelbase than a Stingray and heavy racks in the back and on the handlebars for his newspaper sacks. I suppose Dan could have used one of the stingrays that we were all sitting on in kind of a “festival banana seating” fashion, but then again I doubt anybody would have agreed: “No man, I’d be in Dutch if you died on my bike. I’d be grounded forever and ever.”

Dan had plenty of room for his approach, but he timed his peddling wrong—hitting the gutter with one peddle down creating magnificent sparks behind him! The gutter/peddle business made him lose his balance, and one foot and hand slipped off his bike. He shot by the ramp, missing it by only an inch, and hit my parent’s Albizia tree carving a large chunk out of the trunk. In my later years–when Dan had moved down to SoCal, and he was now only a memory to me (to manipulate in my mind at will) I used to fantasize about him not missing the ramp, but hitting it—launching him with one hand and leg flailing—into what would be the closest thing I would ever see in-person to the remarkable footage of Evel Knievel’s legendary 1967 Caesar’s Palace jump and wipe-out landing.

Super Stu once told me that he thought he was immortal, that he couldn’t die (unlike Dan or my mother’s poor silk tree, or me and my skin cancer and vertigo, or my father with his medical condition). I don’t know if Super Stu was joking or if it was pure hubris, but when he decided to do some urban skiing behind my brother’s Kawasaki 80 he found out that at least he could bruise. His crash and rash was spectacular! I only wish I could have seen it up close and not from down the street.

Which brings me back to how we all are mortal—even Super Stu, whether he believed it or not. Sitting in my father’s hospital room hearing about his ailment and how he has had problems over the last few years or so and has just adapted to them rather than ask a doctor about them, I am reminded of how growing old is a tough business. My father has adapted, but there will be a point when his body finally fails. I don’t like to think about that. My family is taking it very well. I have broken down and cried a couple of times when I was alone. When that time comes we will be left with precious memories, clear images that will stay with us the rest of our own moral lives, just like Super Stu’s record trashcan jump and Dan’s near-colossal fail!

What are Chakras? I’d Like to Know, But I am Distracted!

So, with my skin cancer and my ENT specialist’s prognosis that I might have permanent inner ear damage (not finished testing yet), I’m trying to stay positive and reading things like what are chakras and how yoga can balance them. I’m trying to stay focused and upbeat, drinking coffee at my favorite coffee haunt during my morning break. 

Then she sits across from me. She is eating something sticky like a bear claw. When did Temple Coffee start selling bear claws? What will they sell next, donuts? Will they cut a deal with Cinnabon? She keeps sucking her fingers—LOUDLY!

My karma goes suddenly dark.

She sticks the tips of one or two of her sugary fingers in her mouth, sucks while pulling them out with a jerk to get every bit of that bear claw. Yes Facebook friends, I’m staring at her. This is not a child, by the way; this is a woman in her mid-50s or early 60s. She does not notice me. She just keeps on reading the ads in the paper and sucking her fingers. Amazing!