Laissez les bons temps rouler ~ sign in my dermatologist’s office.
Yesterday, I had my six month check up following skin cancer last year (my second). All is well, and after the next six-month check I might go back to one per year. This is good news as I am a walking body of barnacles and other outgrowths. I never knew so many strange things could erupt on one body until I saw a woman at Cassatt’s last week who had them all over her face. Mercifully, my face has been mostly spared although the last skin cancer was on my now healed nose.
I like my dermatologist Dr. W very much. Voted one of the top doctors in the Washington area, according to The Washington Magazine (read by ‘inside the beltway’ aficionados), she is special indeed.
Wife of an ex-military guy, Sunni is from New Orléans, and her office is decorated with paraphernalia collected from her younger years when she lived in New Orleans and attended various Mardi Gras celebrations. For those who don’t know, Mardi Gras is one of the many “Fat Tuesday” or “Shrove Tuesday” celebrations by most Anglicans and Catholics. Known as carnival where Christian groups have formed around the world ( Christians of the Calvinist persuasion tend to eschew such frivolity) the celebration is held at the beginning of Lent. The areas in North America celebrating this festival for centuries are in Canada and Louisiana.
Sunni is second generation Asian-Indian American, like Bobby Jendal, governor of LA and Nikki Hilton governor of SC. Millions of Asian-Americans live in the New South, and every one I have met was well-educated and living a solid middle class life. I think one of the most interesting aspects of their outlook is a belief that good old-fashioned hard work and merit will help you advance in the world. In other words, they believe in what Americans once called “The American Dream.”
Some might describe this outlook as Karma, i.e., you get out of life what you put into it. Act like a grasshopper or ant and suffer the consequences or enjoy the rewards. Everything you do comes back to you. This philosophy of life is enough to inspire good, even if you were not so inspired to do so for other reasons.
Sunni’s practice (she is partnered with several other doctors) serves mostly older folks on Medicare. She finds much skin cancer among these individuals who were warned too late in life of the dangers of spending time in sunny places without benefit of super-duper sun-block and/or hats and sunglasses. This problem is particularly prevalent among lighter-skinned people from southern areas.
I asked Sunni if she was going to Mardi Gras this year. “No its too touristy,” she said,”Although I do like to see a couple of the pre-Mardi Gras parades, and I asked my Mom to send me some King Cake.” She then began to speak of how much she misses the South. “Washington was exciting when I was younger, but now I am 43 and I miss the South with its more relaxed ways.
Are you going to move home, I asked anxiously?
“No, my husband’s a trade representative and his business is downtown.”
So, that’s how we come to settle here, I thought. We migrate for one reason or another and then stay on. These days, more and more of us retire in this area. While some may migrate to places far away after we retire, there are those of us who have been here so long, we know no other life. Besides we can soon find ourselves living with many relatives. My own granddaughters are fifth or sixth generation locals, although some newcomers swear there is no such thing.
The Christmas holiday I was in eighth grade, my Dad took me on one of my first trips to New Orléans. (I had been there earlier when I was six months old, but did not remember it.)
Dad frequently took me on trips with him, either because he wanted company or because he wanted to increase my education, or for some other reason known only to him. Ostensibly, the trip was to visit a saw mill owned by Mr. E. with whom Dad had a business contract. Dad was a broker in those days, buying lumber from mills in the deep south and then selling it on to furniture factories in the Carolinas and Virginia. I suppose Dad was what some call a middleman, but he saved the mill owners money because they did not have to do their own leg work and find buyers for their timber. He saved the furniture factories the cost of hiring their own purchasing agents.
Dad received commissions from the mill men and remuneration from the furniture factory owners too. He should have been wealthy for all the hard work he did, but was not. Too often unscrupulous business partners did not pay Dad what they owed. Instead, they would give him an expensive bottle of booze as a Christmas present, or a piece of furniture if they were a factory owner. We had the finest collection of furniture you could ever find in a middle class home, but Mom was not happy if she had no money for groceries.
When Dad’s business partners failed to pay up, it was usually for a variety of reasons including their own financial situations which could prove perilous in economic downturns. I discovered during the course of this trip south with Dad that he was visiting Mr. E. to collect on a bill he owed. Dad probably would have believed Mr.E’s tale of economic woe except his private life indicated otherwise.
To be continued.