Thursday, December 16, 2004

Irreverent Humor

December 1997. I was home for Christmas, having just pulled off the slamdance of taking fall quarter finals, going to U2's Popmart concert in Seattle (my roommate's Christmas gift to me, and possibly the coolest gift ever since I'd never have scraped together the fundage to buy tickets for myself), and getting my very first (of twelve) chemotherapy treatment. (It occurs to me that I could have easily made up a little song based on the twelve days of Christmas:
"On the first day of Chemo, my doctor gave to me
A full dose of ABVD!"
I really wish this had occurred to me at the time.)

I was sitting on the couch reading a trashy novel (like I was going to start reading Finnegan's Wake over Christmas break...please!) and my brother walked by, a sulking 12 year old adolescent on his way to the kitchen.

"Hey, bring me some water," I said lazily, still accustomed to being able to boss him around.

He scowled at me. "No."

I was taken off guard by the insubordination from the formerly compliant little fellow, and tried again. "Pleeease? I don't want to get up."

"Get it yourself," he said.

And without even thinking I pulled the dark, inappropriate humor right out of my back pocket where I'd been keeping it hidden (out of respect for the still-shattered emotions of my parents while dealing with their first baby's cancer diagnosis) and threw it onto the table. My parents, seated peacefully next to the Christmas tree, looked up as I wheedled, "C'mon, please? I have cancer!"

My mother gasped. Everyone stared at me. Nobody moved for several heartbeats. Never before nor since have I had the attention of my family focused so completely on me.

"Never mind, I'll get it myself," I muttered.

I still think it was funny.

It was a small solace, then, in the fear and sorrow after hearing that my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer just before Thanksgiving this year, to hear that when she went to the doctor last week to see how well her mastectomy scar was healing, her first comment was, "Well, I guess that means no more topless dancing for me!"

Maybe I'm not a foundling after all.