I awoke one morning, excruciating pain inside the lower right quadrant of my torso. It wasn’t a familiar feeling because I’d never had someone gouge my insides with an icepick, so you can imagine my concern. Kidney stone, they said at the hospital. See it all the time. I thought, Well, not from me you don’t. They gave me a shot of “Duck Dynasty” medicine after which I was happy, happy, happy, and sent me home. All turned out well, and I was good as used the following day.
During the course of all of this, after the stone passed out of my kidney releasing the fluid and the pressure and thus relieving the pain, I went to the pharmacy. Oh, I failed to mention, I lived in Saudi Arabia, so, it so happened, the place was full of Saudi women and an untold number of little kids. Saudi women of course wear, what appears to be at first glance, a large, black, plastic trash bag, covered head to toe. Anyway, I sat a respectable distance away, waiting for my name to be called, observing the goings on. Typical of Arab child-raising, the little girls sat, minding their Ps and Qs and the little boys ran amok. Boys and men pretty much do what they please and women not so much. Anyway, (again,) one kid ran up behind a woman, grabbed her black covering and jerked it up to inspect her shoes. Nope. Not mom. He sidled to the next one, lifted, inspected, and moved on to the next, until finally, the ruby slippers he’d been seeking.
Not one woman reacted to the kid’s query.
Okay, all of the above to get to masks. Took me years of living in the Middle East to grow accustomed to talking to people who covered their heads and faces. Men not women. Men. I talked to men. Can’t see their lips move or their expressions, and I was unable to gauge any emotions from a man’s eyes without the other indicators. I don’t remember when, but one day that changed when I recognized the evil intent of a man’s soul in one 10-second-long stare. (Another story.)
Last week I checked into a hotel at Raceland, Louisiana. Yes, I had on a mask, a scarf I had pulled up over my mouth and nose, and a cap. I went to my car for something and walked back toward the entrance. Another man was digging out bags from the back of a SUV. As I approached, the man turned. His face was covered in camo, topped with a matching cap. I said, “Hey Ricky.” He said, “Hey Dave.”
Had not seen Ricky in 5 years.
Recently went to the doc’s carrying my 6th kidney stone. He asked what he could do for me. I told him I had a kidney I wanted to donate to someone I don’t like.