The banes piled up:

  • I couldn’t get the rear view mirror to stay affixed to the windshield. I bought the mirror glue kits from Autozone et al. time and again. I cleaned the surface, I sanded the surface, I held securely. I must’ve gone through this process four or five times and gave up. We adapted to driving illegally without a rear view mirror.
  • A few years ago a local volunteer agency began helping our next door neighbor rehab his house. We were happy to facilitate the work, allowing them to plug-in power tools and use our water hose. The work stopped a couple years ago and they left our chain link fence down.
  • Our hot water heater stopped working. I called a repair company and they came out–four times. For a week-and-a-half we mostly took showers at the mother-in-law’s house in Gentilly. We our first worlders, we need hot water. I paid one repair bill of about $150, on the first visit. On the fourth and final visit (to install a thermocouple–even our owner’s manual told us that was the likely culprit) we were presented with an additional bill for about $130.
  • In New Orleans there’s a green sheen of oak pollen. In the past week I’ve gagged on it a couple times, I’ve been blowing my nose a bit more, but I haven’t had a full out allergy attack. I just lived in fear of one. My generic Flonose prescription had run out.

A man can only take so much.

On a whim the other day I dropped in at a hole-in-the wall auto repair shop on South Broad Street (a sign said something about windshields). I explained my rear view mirror predicament to a couple Middle Eastern guys who ran the place. By looking around it seemed their primary business was selling tires. A couple minutes later a guy slapped some thick black epoxy onto the plate that attaches the mirror stem to the windshield. He held it up with some clear orange tape. The mirror is still up! We’re street legal! I’ll be dropping by to give a tip–equal to the amount I spent on those glue kits–because they didn’t charge me. Next time I need a tire they’ll be the first place I go.

I sent an email to the volunteer agency asking them to put our fence back up and a few hours later they were at our house and Dedra was showing them what they’d left behind. They were very apologetic and committed to getting the fence up in the next few weeks.

My doctor would not refill my prescription unless I came to her office for my yearly check-up. She had an opening the next morning, I went, all my vitals were good, including my prostate (!), and I have my generic Flonase script.

While at the doctor, just prior to the most probing part of the exam, I had to decline phone calls from the hot water heater repair people. When I called back a manager conveyed through an underling that I was right–they had overcharged me, they were sorry, forget the last bill.

Aside from the mirror bit which occurred over the weekend, most of the rest occurred in less than 24 hours. I felt like a maniac pushing back against a brutish world. The world turned out not so bad.

I was recently reminded of another of my madman episodes. Fifteen years ago I came to the conclusion, through consultation with Dedra, that I would get a vasectomy. We had our child, she was all we wanted, and we liked the idea of outnumbering her–it seemed to promise more life options for all of us. A vasectomy was the best birth control option for our circumstances. Our rationale wasn’t all that different than what Benjamin Percy describes in his recent GQ piece about his vasectomy:

We’d been discussing the idea for months, and I’d finally assented. Think of all the sex we would have! Wild sex! No pregnancy anxiety. No frantic rummaging through the bathroom cabinet for the last nerve-deadening condom. No double-checking the expiration date stamped on the foil and struggling to unroll the rubber one way, then the other, hoping all the while that the mood won’t pass.

Today in the United States, one in six men over the age of 35 have been cut. It is the responsible thing to do, the right thing to do. I know this. The prolonged use of birth control pills may increase a woman’s risk of cancer. A hysterectomy, along with the standard risks of major surgery, has such long-term psychological and physical risks as depression, hormonal imbalance, sexual pain, osteoporosis, and heart disease. Tubal ligation in women also has a much higher rate of failure (one in every 200 cases as opposed to the vasectomy’s one in 2,000). Contradictory as this may seem, by getting a vasectomy, I’m manning up.

There’s nothing crazy about getting a vasectomy. But I think I must have done some weird psychological trip because I don’t remember the pain that Percy describes:
I am unable to breathe. I cannot see what the doctor is doing, but he very well might have shoved a furnace-baked length of rebar through my groin and into my torso. I am introduced to vast, intricate networks of pain I never knew existed.
As far as the actual procedure went, I don’t recall any pain, other than the local being applied. Mostly what I remember is that the doctor and I, while he worked, had an awkward conversation about the Chicago Blackhawks. You know, man talk. The pain I felt was later after I stupidly decided to walk the .7 miles home from the medical clinic. That was the madman in me who decided he didn’t have to take it easy after a vasectomy. Watch out for that guy.

Derek Bridges lives in New Orleans, trading in words and pictures. A carpetbagger of long standing, he grew up in the top right corner of IL and later went to college in the middle cornfield part. He has also lived in MS and FL, for educational purposes only, and was diasporized for a time in TX.

2 Comment on “Pushing back

Leave a Reply