Uncle Slappy called this morning, early. Well, if you must know, early for me. He waited until 8AM, at which point he's been up for a good four hours.
I don't know if it's all elderly people or if Uncle Slappy is particularly extreme, but he gets up as if he were an old-time milk man charged with making his rounds before sun up. What he does during these early mornings is fairly simple. He sips at his black coffee, waits for "The New York Times" to arrive and listens to the news from the BBC on his special radio which is tuned exactly to a station that plays, I think, only the BBC and apocalyptic etudes from Gustav Mahler. It suits Uncle Slappy just fine, this radio.
"Boychick," he began without even saying hello. "Boychick, I just got home from my internist, Dr. Richard P. Cohen, from a physical."
"That's good," I answered banally.
"Not Richard T. Cohen, the podiatrist. Richard P. Cohen, the internist. There's also a Richard J. Cohen. He owns a small animal hospital outside of Cocoa Beach.
I dispensed with the triple-scoop Cohen and cut to the chase.
"What did the good doctor have to say?"
"My blood pressure was 160 over 100. A little high for his taste."
"He's right," I answered, summoning my medical nickel-knowledge gleaned from Jeopardy and the old M*A*S*H TV show.
"I told him he shouldn't worry about my blood pressure."
"Uncle Slappy," I said, assuming the stern tone I've assumed often in recent years, "Uncle Slappy, you have to do something about this."
"I am on new medication," he said to me. "But I told him this: I 86 years old. A de-frocked Rabbi. I have been married for 57 years to the same woman. And I have been forced to live in Boca in a two-bedroom with a view of the pool."
"I understand," I said, "But..."
"I told him, with all that, with all that tsurus and at my age, he should grade my blood pressure on a curve. On a curve, it's 120 over 70."
And with that he hung up the blower.
I actually found myself agreeing with him.