The phone rang early this morning as I was eating my breakfast and I knew from the well-worn old Bell Telephone ring that it was Uncle Slappy calling from Boca.
It was all Uncle Slappy and Aunt Sylvie could do NOT to fly up from Boca and take care of me during what is proving to be my long convalescence. The thing is, it's not good for old people to be around me. It's a good precaution to stay clear of the vestiges of whatever it is I was stricken with. Pneumonia. Some deleterious liver function that presented itself as some letter-version of Hepatitis.
And though Aunt Sylvie would revel in filling me with mushroom barley and Uncle Slappy would like nothing more than trying to teach me pinocle for the eighty-seventh time, discretion, of course, is the better part of valor, and so they, in the words of Yogi Berra, stood in bed, or at least stood in Boca.
"Boychick," the old man began, "Or shall I say Boy-sick. How this morning are your many woes?"
"I am feeling better, Uncle Slappy," I answered with only the thinnest of fibs. "I walked to Central Park yesterday, lifted some light weights and worked out for 20 minutes on the exercise bike in the gym downstairs."
"Ah," he answered as I knew he would, "you did the epileptical."
"Elliptical," I corrected, though I knew he knew he was just being funny.
"I am going to work today. I intend to 10-3-it all week and then next week, I am taking off in the Caribbean."
"Seeing a voodoo doctor, I assume," offered Uncle Slappy. "They're doing amazing things with frogs' tongues, chickens' eyes and roots these days."
I let that one go by and tried to change the subject.
"Guess what I've had for breakfast this past week," I asked him. "Yogurt," I answered.
"We start with baby-food, we end with baby-food," he said sagely. "It's like the riddle of the acidophilus Sphinx. You'll live longer if you learn to get along with it."
"I'm craving an H&H bagel like a crack whore. Toasted burnt and screw it, with heavy butter."
There was a long pause at the other end of the Ameche. I knew Uncle Slappy was plumbing the depths of his memory for some words of wisdom. He began.
"It's true for doughnuts, it's true for bagels, it's true for life. I want you should remember this: 'As you ramble through Life, Brother,/ Whatever be your goal./Keep your eye upon the doughnut,/And not upon the hole."
He hung up the phone with that.
And I finished my yogurt.