Thursday, November 1, 2007

French Fries and Spiderman's Daddy

We met in the parking lot of the Burger King.

Deb jumps into my car and for no good reason, we order huge amounts of french fries.

I eat mine one at a time, no ketchup.

She neatly fishes out groups of three fries, then paints a wiggly line of ketchup across them.

You know this is all about nothing. They just want one more picture of my breasts because they're so perfect. And because my health insurance is so great. That's all.

She nods, nibbling at her next bundle of fries.

We talk about almost nothing, passing time until heading to the radiology center.

She slips back into her car, I follow her.

The waiting room is unusually full.

We take seats in the way back corner, our backs to the wall, observing the room like we own it.

Two little boys dressed as unmasked Spidermen play under a table.

A teenage girl is doubled over in pain while her mother ignores her and makes small talk with a woman dressed in a horrible orange pumpkin-festooned sweater.

No one over the age of five should own anything with a pumpkin on it. Pumpkins are not fashion statements.

We agree.

Besides that, I can't talk.

I can't read.

I'm just smiling, waiting for it to be over.

Melissa Soldani?.... Melissa Soldani?

The radiology tech is not wearing pumpkin scrubs or pumpkin earrings or anything silly, which I take to be a good sign.

We're in Room #4.

She points at the door while holding a stack of xrays.

Take off your top, slip the robe on, let me know when you're ready.

I step out from behind the curtain.

She's holding up a film with pictures of my right breast, which is crazy because the whole reason I was referred was because of my left breast.

There is no small talk, no little questions about what I do or how many kids I have.

Slip your right arm out of your gown and hold on to this bar.

I follow directions, allowing her to plop my right breast onto a clear platter.

Before lowering the top of the machine, the radiology tech palpates my breast as though she were looking for either treasure or landmine.

Here it is. Feel it?

I reach over with my left arm.



I felt it, restraining my own surprise.

She takes an image, opens the machine and repositions it.

Before settling me in again, she steps back, holds the film up again, and again I can see a big white something that shouldn't be there.

She inserts an attachment that looks like a magnifying glass onto the mammogram machine, then compresses again.

This time I wince.

I know it hurts. That's because it isn't moving. Just hold your breath.

It's over. I get dressed.

The radiologist will be in touch with you within five days. If you don't get a call, you'll get a letter, OK sweetie?

I nod, slip out of my robe, back into my bra and shirt.

Deb is in the waiting room working on a grant.

I sit down in my same seat, sliding back so that my head is against the wall.

She can see I'm not about to talk. Or drive.

I saw something. There is something. I'm sure it's not a bad something, but it's a visible, palpable something. Wow. And I don't want to talk about it because I know it's nothing.

Deb organizes her stack of papers, looks at her watch.

I'm not ready for Halloween. I don't have candy or anything... What time do trick-or-treaters start?

I look at my watch. It's almost 5pm.

Oh, let's get OUT of here. You have to go buy candy. Sometimes they start coming at 6pm.

What are you going to be again?

Barb and I are going to wear cute outfits, drink wine and hit on the helpless and confused Daddies.

I angle my legs so that the muscles pop more defined, then twist a lock of hair in my fingers, pretending to talk to imaginary trick-or-treaters.....

Hi Spiderman's Daddy. Can I see what's in YOUR bag?...... Hello Snow White's Daddy, that's a really hot beer belly you've got going...... Whoo-hoo Ninja's Daddy, did he learn those moves from you?

She laughs.

We walk back to our cars.

After giving me a hug, Deb stands back and shouts I LOVE YOU!

I know she does, but I'm concentrating on something far more important.... remembering to throw away the Burger King bag before I get home.