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Operation Keeps Her in Stitches

Got my joie de vivre out of hock this week. And not a moment too soon. Six weeks of not walking, convalescing from surgery, was enough for me, thanks. I stand in awe of all those people who have adjusted to far worse. What can you expect from someone who titled her eighth-grade autobiography, “The Kvetcher in the Rye”?

I tried to prepare for cabin fever. I bought a stack of books but made the mistake of reading Tom Wolfe’s “The Bonfire of the Vanities” first. Nothing came close to that. There are many celebrated authors determined to use certain words like detritus and feckless as frequently as possible. I almost decomposed from Feckless Overload.

Next, I held the first home video Dennis Quaid Film Festival and made the same mistake. After falling in love with Monsieur Quaid in “The Big Easy,” after having pain-pill-induced fantasies of smiling at him over huge plates of Crawfish Etouffee, I worked my way through the detritus of his oeuvre--from “Suspect” to “Innerspace” to “DOA.”

When the Quaidlude wore off, I turned to my relaxation tapes. I was too embarrassed to go to my tony literary bookstore for these. Three days before my surgery, disguised as an idiot, I drove to a suburban chain bookstore and bought “Learn to Relax” and “Subliminal Weight Loss While Lying in Bed Eating Nachos.”

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The first time I put on “Learn to Relax” I thought I had lucked into the legendary “natural high” of late ‘70s funkadelic music. I lay there relaxing, letting all pain and tension leave my head . . . my chest . . . my solar plexus (that’s just above the lunar scapula) . . . my abdomen, my pelvis, my legs. . . .

About 15 minutes into the tape I had the whole ball of wax resting on my right index finger and I was working on letting it go from there. Then, the ever-so-soothing tape lady said, “Good. Now it’s time to begin studying. Get out your books. You . . . YOU . . . can achieve MAXIMUM PEAK PERFORMANCE!”

Have you ever had your psyche tweaked? I had mistakenly purchased “Learn to Relax (For Students).”

Finally, I got out “Teach Yourself Self-Hypnosis.” If I and the old self were going to be laid up we might as well have some fun.

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For about two weeks it worked. I could make my eyelids grow very heavy on command. I could force my fingers to tingle. But I fell short of the one necessary component--a brain makeover.

It was just like the hypno-guru said: All my problems stemmed from negative thinking. For two weeks I was able to get myself into a trance and say positive things. I walked around singing “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” I drew happy faces in the steam on the bathroom window. I ate a high-fiber diet and avoided caffeine, alcohol and anything from the Chip Group.

Then, what started to happen was I’d lie in bed, I’d get relaxed, I’d let go from head to toe and my inner voice would say: “You are feeling relaxed . . . you are feeling good about yourself . . . you jerk . . . you love yourself . . . you pathetic slob . . . you are in control of your life . . . you dumb bunny. . . .”

As my friends in New York say: Two weeks is as long as anyone should feel positive.

Now I’m back out in the world and feeling great. The days are getting shorter. But that’s OK.

The branch library closed down and Cleantown, USA, moved in. But that’s OK.

We’re about to get a new President. It’s going to be Bush or Dukakis.

Someone broke into my car last night and stole the knobs off my radio and the new Brian Wilson tape out of the tape deck. But he left three Billie Holiday tapes.

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Don’t worry, be happy.


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