Scene: Big Boy Gyros
Annette is sponsoring my lunch today, so she picks me up and we head over to Big Boy Gyros, the little place run by a really nice Greek man, who always seems to recognize us even though we’re in there just once every few months, if that. We’re perusing the menu, when Nice Greek Guy sees my Fuck Cancer hat.
NGG: By the way, great hat.
Me: Oh thanks – it does kind of sum it all up.
NGG: My dad, he died of cancer.
Me: Oh, I’m so sorry, that’s horrible.
NGG: Yeah, cancer is so bad because of how it changes people and affects everyone.
Annette: My dad died of brain cancer, and exactly, he got so bad near the end.
NGG: My dad, he was a big burly guy, like Sylvester Stallone, you know, but then with the cancer, at the end he was like a husk, a withered old man, so weak and in pain.
NGG, continuing unabated: And you know, we get customers in here, they have cancer, they okay for two, three years, then bam…(here he makes a slashing notion across his throat)…..they no more.
Annette: Umm, okay, so….(she throws an arm around my shoulder, as I’m staring at NGG, giggling yet horrified at the same time)….maybe we need only happy cancer stories, eh?
NGG, continuing as if Annette hadn’t even spoken: Then you know I have the godmother for my youngest daughter, she only 38, such a nice girl….
I can’t help it, I start smiling, that incredulous smile that you have when you know where something is going and it isn’t going to be pretty…
NGG:…..she get the bad cancer, really bad, next thing you know she too gone. It was really bad at the end too, she have no idea what going on around her…
Annette: Okaaaaay so mayb…….
NGG: And her parents, they never the same afterward. You know, lose someone so young. Her mom still wear black – her dad, he just sit there in front of the fireplace, clicking it on and off. So sad.
I swear I am not making any of this up.
NGG, to me: But I’m sure you be fine! You be okay, okay? Yes!
We turn and head to a table, and as I look over at Annette, she has the same amused horrified look on her face as I do, and we both burst out laughing at the same time.
Annette: Don’t worry, you won’t be like one of those customers who suddenly – poof! – are gone.
Me: Not yet anyway – it apparently takes them 2-3 years, so I guess I have another good 6 months left in me. That’s a comfort.
So you may be thinking – well, okay Miss Tasha, but where do those benefits come in? Patience, young grasshopper, patience.
We’re sitting there waiting for them to call that our food is done, when we see one of the fry cooks
carrying first Annette’s food out to her, then mine. Mind you , this is NOT that kind of place – you walk up to the counter and get your food, period.
Fry cook: Can I get you anything else? Mustard, ketchup?
Me: Oh, yeah, ketchup, but I’ll get it…
Fry cook: No! You sit, I’ll get it.
We chat and eat our food – then the guy comes back to bus our table and take the leftovers in back to wrap them up carefully – and then, THEN, he comes out with little tiny ice cream sundaes for us! Ha, all you non-cancerous people, go ahead and be jealous! We’re so being treated like the rock$tars we are.
As we leave, NGG is at the counter again, and I get the hearty good bye, and a “Be strong! You be okay!” – though undoubtedly he’s thinking, there goes another one I’ll never see again. At least we got free ice cream out of it….