“Ok. Stop that.”
“Huh? Stop what?”
I turned around. I was thrown off course there. Here I was accompanying mom for her appointment with the doctor. We’d just got in the hospital, and had done no more than walk up to the reception. I know I can be irritating at times, but I didn’t see how I could have done that in such a short time.
“That!! Why are you doing that? Do you have a problem with your leg?”
“What are… you talking about, mom??”
“Why were you limping?”
“Huh? I wasn’t limping!”
“You were too! And we’re in a hospital. If you have a problem, say it, and we’ll get it looked into. Or else, it is NOT funny.”
“Mom, I wasn’t limping. My leg is fine.”
“Well, just stop it. I’ll have a slight limp till this treatment is over. If people look at us, they’ll think we’re a mother-and-son limping team.”
“Team? You think limping may be an Olympic event or something? Limping Olympics. Hmm… You think I can say it fast five times without stuttering?”
“Can’t you ever get serious? Just… just don’t do it again, ok?”
And she focused her attention to the counter, talking to this serious faced woman in charge, and got the doctor’s sheet. We then got directions to the doctor’s office, and started moving.
“There you go again. Hamish, STOP it!!”
“Whaat??”, I said instinctively. But this time, I observed my limp too.
“Stop that stupid limp. Why in blazes are you doing this??”
“I don’t know. I… I just don’t know.”
As soon as I got conscious of my limp, I knew exactly why I was doing that. I did not have any injury to my leg. No accidents. My leg was not hurt, I wasn’t weak or dizzy, I did not have stubble on my toe, my shoes were not tight, I did NOT interchange my left and right shoes, a pebble did NOT lodge itself in my sock, my foot did not fall asleep, nobody took a whack at my kneecap, and I did not hit my shin on a small coffee table, but I was limping.
And I knew why. It was equally plain that I shouldn’t let mom know why. The limp was a subconscious response to two factors;
- Firstly, I was in a hospital. This factor wouldn’t, by itself, be significant. But this had primary supplemented the second factor, viz…
- I had JUST watched two episodes of Dr. House, MD before we left for the hospital. My Housemania was back.
Regular readers, and passersby who have wandered through http://www.hamishjoy.com/2008/01/14/hamish-mad/ might remember that I was addicted to the TV series, House MD, and was periodically emulating its lead character, Dr. Gregory House, masterfully played by Hugh Laurie. I went to the extent of buying an umbrella that doubled as a cane which further fuelled my imitation of the inimitable character. The trouble was that the character in question is, by all counts, an arrogant, inconsiderate, misogynist jerk who limped through his hospital throwing snide, sarcastic comments against all and sundry.
This isn’t the first time I’ve let screen life characters invade my life. As a kid, I used a rope as a whip to finish my portrayal of Indiana Jones, an act that got me falling over more walls than I’d care to remember. I had tried my hand… and my foot at several characters of Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee, most of which ended with me injuring the hand… and foot. I had tried some of the whacky expressions of the rubber faced comedian as I tried his character, Ace Ventura. This one got concerned reactions from large masses of relatives and neighbors who called up my parents in private to recommend some well known psychiatrists.
I thought about all these tidbits as I paced the hospital floor, waiting for mom’s appointment. I wouldn’t say that I was disturbed by this, but there was some level of concern. I do not believe that nobody else has similar eccentricities… I am quite sure that people knowingly and unknowingly emulate characters and traits that they see around them. But how many do it after they cross ten? I don’t know. I have never been one to advocate normalcy, but perhaps in small doses, it is a necessary part of life. So I should be concerned by the fact that I still do this. But I’m not. Maybe I should be concerned that I am not concerned that I still do this. But am I concerned about it? I don’t think so, but I must be concerned at SOME level, or I wouldn’t be pacing the floor thinking about this, when I could easily be watching a movie on my ipod, would I?
Needless to say, the thoughts in the last paragraph did nothing to remove confusion. Rather, it only added to it all… particularly the part towards the end. Frustrating. I resumed pacing the floor, and across the drone of the other waiting patients, over the sound of the hospital staff scurrying about, I could hear mom’s voice…
“For the love of God, Hamish, will you please STOP that limping??”