I went to the dermatologist's today for my annual exam. It's the exam you need if you spent your teen years - and beyond - working as a landscaper and are as Irish as a hangover. I have atypical nevus - renegade moles - but am in no immediate danger. Just the annual trek to the clinic.
I have health care now, in a new part of the country, and visited a new office for the first time. It was pure David Lynch. I stepped into an office with a dozen grandmas and grandpas crowding the seats. They were all fixated on the TV screen, which was showing old episodes of the Johnny Carson Show. Johnny wearing a dress, Johnny joking about Ed's drinking, Johnny holding a kinkajou. At one of Johnny's excruciating jokes they'd all start cackling like the witches in Macbeth. Now either there's an Alzheimer Channel or the office was playing DVD's of Johnny. I don't know which is worse.
In that office, the only folks not collecting Social Security were me and a tweaker metal chick covered in scabs. She also had a bandage going all the way up one of her arms. She looked at me and smiled. I looked at my shoes. A minute later she turned to the old lady sitting next to her.
'Hey ma' she said in a cigarette-scarred voice, 'You can go if you want. Joey will pick me up.'
Her mom, a little old white-haired lady from Pasadena murmured that no, she would wait. I considered the possibility that Joey might be the last person she wanted picking up her daughter.