If I don’t pay all these medical bills, I could lose the house? Thank goodness

The cost of cancer: Each day, more hospital bills roll in.
(Chris Erskine / Los Angeles Times)

“We’re hanging in there,” is what I tell people when they ask. Folks find this little lie sort of reassuring, as do I. Hanging in there is about the best you can hope for in the situation we’re in.

In fact, the other night, I fell out of bed for the first time in my life, and then on Sunday morning, I stumbled and fell in the bedroom, in almost the exact same spot where I fell out of bed.

And my wife says she doesn’t find me particularly funny?

Falling out of bed was a new experience for me. I blame the ridiculously small martini I had earlier in the evening with my buddy Jeff, a TV “journalist” and a bit of a raconteur, as TV types usually are.


As with Bittner, it’s never one drink with Jeff. The first martini went too fast, so we had another thimble of potato juice and vermouth. That was all … home by 8. As Tennessee Williams said, if only we could go through life with the feeling we get from two drinks.

Even amid the chemo and the blood tests, I find a way to see a buddy now and then. I need someone to talk to besides Posh about her cancer. I’m worried because the medical bills have started to pour in, and I’ve taken to cramming them into a cubby in the desk. They hover over me like the devil’s stun gun.

Though we have a sturdy health plan, I’m hoping that the hospital eventually takes the house. The roof leaks and half the expensive crank windows don’t work. It may be the cranks, or it may mean the house is settling and about to break in half.

So, if I don’t pay the bills, and the hospital takes the house, at least I’ve solved the leaky roof and the window problem. The other day, when the rains left, I took the tarp off the kitchen skylight, which revealed a layer of botulism on the lip of the fridge. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

A reader told me the other day that you can make a good living through humor, but I don’t see it.

So I stumble and tumble through my days, pampering my ill yet lovely wife while trying to stay employed, which has never been easy for me. A reader told me the other day that you can make a good living through humor, but I don’t see it.

The plucky little Posh, my Sicilian American bride of 35 years, insists that I’m not particularly funny. I respond that a sly wit is all I seek, and that kind of thing often goes undetected, especially in a marriage. Besides, I haven’t even broken out my “A” material yet. Wait till she hears my new bit on the myths surrounding the pain of childbirth.

Speaking of painful children, I was telling my daughter’s boyfriend the other day how I power-rank the kids, 1 through 4, as you would a football team, and that his girlfriend is almost a perennial No. 4, because she doesn’t even try.


At one time, she held such promise. By age 10, she was a sure-handed second baseman, and a .350 slap hitter. But then she became a debutante – literally, yes, they still do that. The day she became a deb, her hitting was never the same.

Anyway, I think that’s something a guy should know about a girlfriend.

Meanwhile, the little guy dropped to No. 3 in the power ranking when it became clear that when I fell out of bed, he might’ve pushed me just a little. We’re playing musical beds these days, to accommodate guests such as the boyfriend. Even a castle as palatial as ours only has so many places to pass out.

In the little guy’s defense, he claims that he only asked me to “move over a little, would you, Dad?” after which I slipped off the edge of the gigantic king bed, banged my head on the beanbag chair, the Old Testament, the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition and a huge pile of self-help books. I finally came to rest on the expensive carpeting I put in 10 years ago so the beagle would have a comfortable place to pee.


I was OK, not even a sore neck the next morning, but still marveling over the experience, I told everyone at team picture day that I’d fallen out of bed.

“I could’ve broken my funny bone,” I explained.

“If you had one,” said my son.

“You’re discombobulated,” a fellow coach said, which might be an actual medical term.


And when I tripped and fell a few days later, kettle-drumming the floor, the only person to come running was the baby Siberian husky (whom we suspect is some sort of Russian spy).

The little Russian agent licked me conscious, which is better than her trying to give me CPR. In fact, she was so concerned for my welfare, she licked off two days’ worth of stubble, leaving me freshly shaved, pink as an Easter ham and ready to face another long day.

So, yeah, we’re hanging in there. We’re doing really fine.


Twitter: @erskinetimes


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