The Lights Are On

Self-portrait taken with Instagram.

In the inimitable words of my good friend Ralph:


As soon as I heard a female voice on the other end of the phone on Monday, I knew that it had to be good news. Nurses don’t call to say that you have cancer. The only word I heard the sweet angel of mercy utter was “benign” and all I remember saying back was how badly I wanted to kiss her. When I hung up the phone, it felt like waking up from a nightmare. God bless us, everyone. Attaboy, Clarence. We all need the eggs.

Actually, I felt more like the sprightly old man who’s prematurely thrown on to the rotting body cart in Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

I’m not dead!

I’m getting better!

I feel fine.

I think I’ll go for a walk.

I feel happy.

I feel happy.

Those three little words are right up there with “I love you” and I haven’t said either of those potent phrases in quite some time, but I’m going to say them now:

I feel happy! (That’s me in the photo above.)

I love you!

To all of you who have been slogging through this whiny bullshit everyday, helping me get through this scary patch – I love you! I don’t know what I would’ve done without your sincere kindness, unwavering support and constant stream of dick jokes.

So here are my big questions: How did you all know that I didn’t have the Big C? And how come I was the last to know? Was it just the kind of nice things people say to someone who may or may not have cancer? Did God send you guys a memo? Was it just a lucky guess?

I feel lucky, and you know for me, that’s saying a lot.

And there’s another three-little-word phrase I haven’t said in quite some time. I feel lucky, for so many reasons, and may even push it and buy a Powerball ticket today. Attention ladies: I could be cancer-free and a half-billionaire by the end of the night.

You may have noticed that I haven’t said anything about feeling relieved. That didn’t happen until yesterday morning. I was on the subway going to work and was listening to a playlist of new music on my iPhone. The F train was packed and I was standing just like the other walking dead commuters, except that I wasn’t dead yet, and then that killer Kendrick Lamar song I told you about came on that begins:

When the lights shut off

And it’s my turn to settle down

My main concern

Promise that you will sing about me

Promise that you will sing about me

And I started to cry, just like I had when I woke up from surgery all those years ago. There’s usually no crying in hip-hop, but Zach had turned me on to that song and the thought of him and Rob singing for me when the lights shut off flashed in my mind for the briefest of moments before it was replaced by the overwhelming feeling that the lights are still very much on and that I’m happy, loved, lucky and relieved.

And it’s not my turn to settle down.


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