Neck surgery's bad enough without my real pain - Ralph

May 11, 1997


Staff Writer

My brother Ralph knows I'm having surgery on my neck, and it's all my mom's fault.

The last time I had a cyst removed from my neck several years ago, he called me the night before surgery and played for me over the telephone, long distance, an original musical composition I've affectionately dubbed the Chainsaw Massacre Prelude in R minor. R is for Ralph.

"Going to stick your neck out, huh? HA HA HA HA," he said in part. "That's a bit out of character, isn't it? HA HA HA HA."


Ralph thought the chainsaw was the ideal implement to be used during my surgery. "Quick, and effective," he said. "HA HA HA."

Anyway, when I learned I had to have another lump removed, I resolved never to tell my brother. Not ahead of time, at least. I did not enjoy hearing the buzz of the chainsaw the last time, and I did not intend to hear it again.

Mom ruined it all. I called about a week ago to see how she was doing and made the mistake of telling her I hadn't talked to Ralph since dad died.

"Oh, honey, why don't you call him. He'd love to hear from you. (sure, mom, sure.) You mean you two haven't talked since your father died!??" (please, no guilt trips, mom, please.) "Honey, he always calls you. Why don't you give him a call. He ought to be home right now." (had to do it, didn't you, mom. had to do the guilt trip stuff).

"Ok, ok, ok, I'll call him," I said. (maybe he'll be away on a business trip)

I dialed his number. (fool. fool. stupid fool. stupid guilt-ridden fool.)

My nephew Michael answered. (relief) We talked for a minute. He said his father knew about my pending operation. (heart-gripping fear)

"Oh, God, he isn't going to do the chainsaw bit again, is he?" I asked.

"No, he said he already did that one," replied Michael. "He's doing something else. Want to talk to him?"

"Uh, sure, why not." (stupid, stupid fool.)

Ralph got on the phone. "So when's the slice and dice," he asked cheerily.

"None of your business," I said.

"So what it is - another lump?"

I spoke before thinking. "Yeah. The doctor told me it's a birth defect. A dermoid cyst. They have hair and teeth in them." (why did you say that....why why why terry)

"Birth defect? HA HA HA HA HA. I believe that!! HA HA HA...Hey, did they do a chest x-ray yet?"

"Yeah, why?"

"Just wondered if they found it. Your chest, I mean. HA HA HA HA HA HA."

"Ralph, I'm hanging up now. Right now. I'm hanging up so I can conduct a more civil and intellectually-stimulating conversation - with one of my cats."

"Ooooooh. HA HA HA HA HA. Oooooh, heh heh. Chest x-ray. They actually gave your doctor the results? I Didn't know they could read a piece of film that small. HA HA HA HA HA."




(you were a fool, terry. a stupid stupid fool. you were so-o-o-o-o-o stupid you even paid for the call...)

The Herald-Mail Articles