Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Magnificent Exaggeration

I got a call from a friend I worked with almost 40 years ago. He said he heard that I had died. I assured him if I had died it wouldn’t have slipped my mind and I'd know enough to stop breathing. True, my back went out a few days ago and I’ve been laid low but surely that’s not quite the same.

Come to think of it when I looked in the mirror this morning I didn’t see anyone but this was after a hot shower and the glass was foggy. It got me thinking that if I had died this must be my after-life and it’s not bad at all.

The man he’d heard from about my unfortunate demise was a pharmacist I worked with about the same time. Pharmacists hang around with other pharmacists possibly because they are so boring nobody else would put up with them. I was happy not to keep any as friends. The profession itself was depressing enough.

I recall that there was another pharmacist with my name. I met him once and regarded him as my generic equivalent. One always thinks of oneself as a brand name. Perhaps it was this Norm Levine who checked out. I’m sorry for his family. To lose one of us is a misfortune. To have lost two would have been carelessness. (Thank you, Oscar Wilde)  

I take it back about all pharmacists. I met my match a few years ago in Jack. He not only turned his back on pharmacy but proved it by retiring 15 years before me. I have great respect for his vision and commitment to higher ideals. He is also my doppelgänger. We both graduated from Forest Hills High School, had pharmacies in the San Fernando Valley, had pharmacist-fathers who attended Columbia University and both have daughters named, Lauren.  We and our wives have become close friends and I sometimes call him to find out how I’m feeling.

In any case I’m sure if I had passed away Jack would have felt a twinge and called me at once. 

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