That it should have come to this.
There we were – newbie blogger (that would be me), wife, parents, aunt and uncle fresh off the plane from New Zealand – sitting around the dinner table after one of my father’s spectacular creations (butterflied leg of lamb, thank you very much). We were happy, replete, and a couple of bottles of wine to the good.
Talk turned, as it often seems to these days, to our various ailments, diseases and complaints. My mother produced a devilish machine which you blow into to measure your lung capacity (she’s asthmatic, as am I.) She duly blew; we politely marveled. Then it was my turn. Then the bloody thing went all around the table as we each took a deep breath and blew into it as if we were Dizzy Gillespie. (My uncle, 74 years old, did much better than me.)
Not to be outdone, my father then produced his machine for measuring blood pressure, and around we went again. I was expecting him to produce his little device for measuring his blood sugar level which probably would have prompted a ghoulish pricking of fingers and some strange blood oaths – you never know with these Kiwis – but thankfully the cheese plate arrived and we were distracted by some pungent Gorgonzola. And more wine.
It was only later, when I was lying in bed listening to my daughter snuffle quietly in the adjoining room, that it struck me that the shrill beep of the portable blood pressure machine was in fact the dolorous clang of the bell announcing the passing of my youth. I mean, for heaven’s sake. We’re were using medical equipment as a means of entertainment. (I’ve done this in past, of course, but I swear I’ve not had another enema since.) I remember a time when after-dinner games, if played correctly, could almost guarantee late-night puking in the nearest flower bed. Even the most geriatric game of canasta would have been more fun than the solemn reading of our medical runes on the little screen. And whatever happened to Charades, for God’s sake?
Still, on further reflection, I decided that all in all it was a good night, even if it was a little odd. Our little informal medicals made me realise that we were lucky to be there at all. If I have to huff and puff down a plastic tube every once in a while to be reminded how grateful we should be for our continued good health, then so be it. Pass the damn thing over. This time can I be Charlie Parker?