Treatment #8 was covered by my friend Ben. Ben flew in from Albuquerque, NM, where he works as a government spy.
Kidding -- sort of.
Ben and I met in Albany, about 9 years ago. We were young and foolish. We both loved classical music, and I used to attend Ben's performance of "The Messiah" every year. For those of you who do not know, it takes quite a bit of effort to sit through the Messiah, especially on the hard wood seats of Troy's Fleet Bank Music Center, where Ben used to perform. But I used to enjoy going to see Ben perform this and other pieces every year when he was part of the Classical Singers and Albany Promusica. He has a nice voice, among other things. My favorite was when Ben and Albany Promusica performed Verdi's requiem at a really, really old Catholic church in Albany. It was beautiful.
I have a favorite memory of Ben. When I first met him, he was an officer in the Navy. Ben spent his young adulthood spending 6-month stints on submarines! This isolation explains his tenaciousness and character, by the way. Anyway, I used to hassle Ben all the time to salute me. He never would, claiming that it was a very specific gesture only meant to be used in certain situations and to certain people. But one night, after several glasses of wine, I was walking Ben back to his car. I trailed behind him, bothering him the whole while to salute me. Finally, just as Ben got to his car, he spun around on one heel. His heels clicked together like thunder, and his right hand shot up, making a sound as it whipped through the air. And he saluted me. It sent shivers down my spine.
This treatment was pretty easy. Wednesday, of course, was awful. But Thursday Ben and I went to campus to see my friend Wendy give a talk about her new book, with her co-author, Barbara. We had a good time. It's unusual that I'm able to pack in this much activity during a treatment. I think Ben thoroughly enjoyed himself, as he commented that he never knew Birth (the subject of Wendy's talk) was so complicated and interesting.
Friday was a pretty bad day, but I got through it -- mostly on the sofa. Ben rubbed my feet (yes, Carla and Henry, my feet). Saturday, Ben and I went to breakfast at the Flying Biscuit. Then we went to Outwrite Books, and bought some stuff to read (Hollinghurst's "Swimming Pool Library" for Ben, and a book on dissent in America, for me). After that, we went to see Pan's Labyrinth, a truly gory movie which illustrates the horror of Franco's Spain (just in case you were under the illusion that fascists were nice and played by the rules). Then we were joined by Jody, Andy, and Lexy. We went to dinner at La Fonda, yum yum. Lexy was quite concerned about the fact that Uncle Chet no longer has any hair. "Hair gone," she kept exclaiming. When asked where my hair went, she replied: "Hair went byebye." I tried to tell her that Uncle Chet's hair would grow back in time, but she just kept looking at my bald head with a furrowed brow and a look of deep concern. She seemed to like feeling the top of my head, but would then instruct me to "put hat back on," so that she wouldn't have to look at my naked melon any longer. Sweet girl, that Lexy.
Ben left today (Sunday). He's going to move from Albuquerque to Seattle, where his boyfriend Marc works for Microsoft (he helps design the XBox). Ben is going to earn a pile of money in Seattle and then open up an organic sheep farm on an island in the Puget sound. I can't wait!!! I love cheese!
Ben is also going to support me during my retirement. Thanks in advance, Ben.