Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bonnie Hunt's Blue Drapes

If it wasn't for my enthusiastic infatuation with Bonnie Hunt, I would have never joined the BBBH (Bring Back Bonnie Hunt) club. I'm not much of a joiner, but tackling the direction of Bonnie's career all by myself seemed quite formidable, so I've become immersed in a stew-pot of Bonnie's fans. The club meets once per month and is dedicated to all things Bonnie, the foremost of which is to bring her sparkling personality back to television. We meet at Ginny Nooten's house, and each gathering is chock full of news about Bonnie, as well as Bonnie handicrafts, made by a few of the more inspired members.

My contribution to the club is my Bonnie Hunt Drapery Report, which, for the sake of clarification, is compiled into a poster-board-sized bar graph. It's a simple graph identifying each day of the week, along with a corresponding blue bar, indicating whether Bonnie's bay window drapes were open or closed at 10:00am, the time when I make my daily, well-being, drapery check. I whiz by Bonnie's house on my bicycle, practically unnoticed, and only glance furtively at her window so as not to appear nosy. Once, Bonnie waved to me, and I returned a polite wave, but didn't stop. She deserves her privacy, and, besides, I'm hesitant around celebrities.

Really, nobody is bothered by my excursions except for Ginny Nooten, who is envious of my first-hand association with Bonnie. More than once, she's tried to pry the location of Bonnie's house from me, but I always reply the same way: "Out of respect for Miss Hunt, her home address must be kept confidential. I'm sure you understand." This bugs the hell out of her, and once, when I referred to myself as merely a neighborhood fixture, reporting on the well-being of our beloved Bonnie, she called me a "neighborhood nut," which is saying something if you tallied some of the behaviors of the BBBH club membership. There's Francine, who embroiders Bonnie's likeness on hand towels and pot holders, and Harriett, who makes Bonnie Hunt refrigerator magnets from shellacked magazine photographs, and not-to-be-outdone is Dory Wibben, who manages to celebrate Christmas 365 days a year with her glitter-encrusted Bonnie Hunt Christmas ornaments. To be called a nut among this bunch is a notable accomplishment.

What really bugs Ginny is that my monthly bar graph garners more than its share of attention. Each month, the entire BBBH club gathers around the poster-board and discusses the meanings of the open-or-closed blue drapes. Generally, if they're closed, they conclude she was out late, the night before, at some swingin' star-filled extravaganza. And if they've been closed for extended periods of time, they surmise she's out of town, working on a fabulous new venture that only a few insiders like us could be aware of. So, even though Ginny resents my presence, she's well aware that my drapery reports are an integral part of the glue that keeps the BBBH club together.

The other part of the BBBH club glue is DeAnne Speckles' South-of-the-Border punch, which is nothing more than a giant margarita in a beach-ball-sized bowl of ice. It does, however, help loosen up the players in the Bonnie Hunt puppet show. Ginny Nooten makes Bonnie Hunt hand puppets, which are featured at the end of each BBBH club meeting with an often-improvised puppet show. Ginny insists on being the Bonnie puppet while another member is chosen to take on the role of one of the many puppets in her repertoire. At the last meeting, she asked me to play the role of Bonnie's producer, Don Lake. The Don Lake puppet is a bespectacled, balding man casually dressed, and, as disagreeable as Ginny can be, her impeccable attention to detail is remarkable, right down to Don's tiny headphone and microphone set. Ginny always speaks first, followed by appreciative applause from the BBBH club members, almost as if it's the opening of Bonnie's television show.

--Bonnie (Ginny): Hello everyone. Welcome to my living room. (applause) I have a concern today.
--Don (Me): What's that, Bonnie?
--Bonnie: Well, Don, there's this guy who rides his bicycle past my house every day at ten o'clock in the morning.
--Don: What's the problem?
--Bonnie: He gives me the willies.
--Don: What does he do?
--Bonnie: Nothing. He just rides by. No wave, nothing.
--Don: What would you expect him to do?
--Bonnie: Wave or something, I dunno. I'm a big star. Shouldn't he at least wave hello?
--Don: Maybe he's the thoughtful type and doesn't want to bother you.
--Bonnie: No, no. There's nothing thoughtful about this guy.
--Don: He sounds swell to me, a gift, a harbinger of the day.
--Bonnie: Oh please. This guy rides by at the same time every day. I swear, I could set my watch by him.
--Don: Do you wait for him?
--Bonnie: Well, no, maybe, sometimes. I dunno.
--Don: I think your curiosity might be turning into a crush!
--Bonnie: Goodness, no!
--Don: Maybe he's playing hard-to-get and you're falling for it.
--Bonnie: No, no, he's...he's up to something, I swear!
--Don: I'm seeing a big red heart with "Bonnie loves the Bicycle Guy" inscribed in the middle.
--Bonnie: I wouldn't have a crush on this guy if he was the last man on Earth! He thinks he's so smart with his charts and graphs. I'll tell you what he can do with those bar graphs! My puppets are way better than any goddamn graph. I don't even know where I live. Why can't he tell me where I live? Is that so freakin' much to ask!
--Don: I think it's time we break for a commercial.

The BBBH club meeting ended with an awkward silence while everyone gathered their handicrafts and filed out the door, trying in earnest to disregard the uncivil turn of the puppet show. I'm thinking this may not be the club for me and will be looking for another club where the merit of a well-organized bar graph is appreciated.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hi-ho Silver, Away!

Truth serum or something close to it, that's what they give you during a colonoscopy. Someone could ask you anything while you're under the influence of that stuff, and you're compelled to tell the truth, even if it's not in your best interest. The doctor (or nurse with an axe to grind) could ask you if you ever cheated on a test, and your reply might land you back in high school, repeating your senior year all over again, or worse, all four levels, depending on the evidence gathered.

Several years ago, during my procedure (that's what the medical professionals like to call it), I'm certain the doctor coerced the combination to my bicycle lock from me. Three days after the procedure, my bike was stolen. More than a little curious, eh? I mentioned this to her while she was reading the test results over the phone, and she acted oh-so-innocent, like larceny and deceit never crossed the threshold of the hospital. "We are here to heal, not steal," were her exact words. Despite her denials, I told her it won't be so easy next time, as I just might purchase a brand new lock after the procedure so I'll have no knowledge of the combination during her drug-assisted interrogation. I hoped she learned a lesson from my suspicions; after all, doctors can afford their own bicycles.

The other day, I was subjected to another "procedure." Prior to putting me under the anesthesia, a nurse asked what kind of musical accompaniment I wanted. She said they would be putting me into a state of twilight, and as I drift in and out of consciousness, I might be able to hear some of the music they play in the operating room. Figuring a lute player was out of the question on such short notice, I requested "Lies" by the Knickerbockers, because, I said, "There won't be a word of truth to anything you hear while I'm sedated. I'm a compulsive liar, so don't believe a word I say, and leave my bike alone, and what is this anyway, a hospital or a sock-hop."

There was an uncomfortable, worry-filled silence before drifting off into a nurse-driven twilight; I was consumed with fear about what might be revealed this time. I mean, everybody has secrets that shouldn't see the light of day. There was the time I pirated a copy of "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken," and the time I stole all the Mounds Bars from my nephew's trick or treat bag. And there's stuff people do in the privacy of their own homes that should remain private. For instance, my wife and I are history buffs, aficionados might be a more accurate term, and occasionally reenact historical events. Lately, we've been in rehearsal for "The Lone Ranger meets Miss Kitty," two pivotal characters from the old west that never had the chance to meet on-screen. Marshal Dillon had plenty of time to make his move; the alluring Miss Kitty waited nineteen years, but came up with nothing but a yearning in her heart and whiskey on her breath. In our romantic drama, the Lone Ranger, mask and all, finally gets the chance to court the unfulfilled Miss Kitty, the saucy red-head who knows how to work a beauty-mark. These are the kinds of beans that could get spilled and wind up in some medical journal for all the world to see, or, at the very least, become the subject of hospital gossip or, quite possibly, an inclusion in a person's medical file.

Upon waking from the procedure and still in a state of twilight, I thought I heard the doctor say, "This guy has a nice ass," though it could have been, "This guy is a pain in the ass." I'm not sure which one it was, but I'm sticking with the former, as, at this stage of life, the compliments arrive on an all too irregular basis. Then, while in recovery, she remarked, with a somewhat unreadable tone, how I talked incessantly throughout the entire procedure, "jabbering about this and that" was how she put it. When she said, again in a monotone, that the whole experience was the highlight of her career, a nearby covey of nurses began laughing and whispering.

They allowed me to rest in silence for an hour while I gathered my senses, time enough for me to fret obsessively about what kind of information the medical staff gathered from my "jabbering," as the doctor so casually put it. While leaving the hospital, I walked slowly down the exit hallway, and just when I pushed on the swinging door at the very end, I could hear a woman's voice echoing through the corridor, "Hi-ho Silver, away!" followed by a boisterous throng of laughter.

I wondered about the statute of limitations on The Ghost and Mr. Chicken caper, then made a silent pledge to buy a new bicycle lock first thing in the morning.