Monday, August 17, 2009

Health Care Reform (or, Two Angry Jews with Stethoscopes)

I have only one hard and fast rule in life; never ever do anything that you think is a good idea while driving. I don't know why this rule works or how but it has served me well over the years. So, when I thought of the idea for this post while driving back from the America's Grape Country Wine Festival in Dunkirk this past weekend I was immediately disinclined to write it down (yes despite the fact that these are called 'blogs' we still have to write them). Undoubtedly I will pay for this decision to ignore that rule. Anyway here it is;

It had suddenly occurred to me that at the last few festivals I have been to I have encountered very angry female customers. They weren't angry at me, (at least I don't think so). I suspected somehow it had something to do with anxiety over the ongoing health care reform debate. At the Catskill summer fest there was a redhead who came up to the booth. She seemed nice enough despite several intimidating tattoos. She offered to trade a massage for a bottle of wine. Now, not that I mind getting massages from strange women with tattoos in the middle of the Greene County Building parking lot you understand but nevertheless, I declined her generous offer but as she seemed harmless enough and it seemed like a good deal I suggested my daughter, who was helping me at the show, take her up on it instead which promptly she did. When the local tatteuse came to collect her bottle from me she handed me her card from which I deduced from that she was Jewish,--and that was when I noticed she was angry,- very angry.
Probably partly encouraged by the wine, she had launched into a rather lengthy tirade about how she had been mistreated and misdiagnosed for her medical condition. Her frustration was immediately understandable to me. We who share a Jewish heritage but have not followed the societal stereotype to become doctors, lawyers or accountants, needless to say, still have need of those services. We feel we are entitled to a little better care and attention from our fellow jews particularly in the medical profession, it's only natural. This doesn't ever happen but still we feel entitled to rage at the democratic lackadaisalness demonstrated by overworked doctors who seem only anxious to find the next pill to prescribe. I nodded in somewhat abstract agreement as she railed on (in my defense I was distracted, worried about whether my credit card imprinting machine was imprinting correctly). I saw her point. Despite the continuing perceived indifference we persist in expecting a little more personal interest. You know, after 5,000 years you could offer me at least a plate of 'kishkas' with my electrocardiogram. Of course, as I said, it doesn't ever work that way and speaking for all the jews not identified with professional corporation after their name, just so you know, it makes us angry,--and we're packing.

So, when another middle aged woman came up to me this last weekend at the Chautauqua County Fairgrounds asking me somewhat angrily, 'Where is your winery' I proudly and abstractedly pointed on my laminated map from Staples smack at the Hudson Valley region.
"All our money you know goes down there you know." she asserted unequivocably, pointing at the region just south of where I was pointing.
"You know what I think?" She persisted emphatically perhaps sensing my indifference.
"What?" already intuiting the answer.
"They should cut this whole thing off, (indicating the metropolitan area) and let it drop into the ocean, or give it to New Jersey."
Now, I had lived in the Finger Lakes for ten years and I was very familiar with this sentiment that occurs with some frequency among some upstaters regarding the city that has the hubris to call itself the same name as the state and always looked at it as a kind of veiled racial and anti-immigrant prejudice.
I really was in no mood to deal with this anti-downstate sentiment and so I immediately pointed out that to New Yorkers we were also considered upstaters, trying vainly to deflect her anger by creating some spurious bond that I did not feel. I had been on my feet for six hours amidst the flies heat and hubbub, selling at most six bottles the whole time. My patience and my internal censor were both laying in a noxious puddle on the concrete floor, then for some reason, just as with this blog, full knowing that I was heading for disaster but unable to control it I launched into the following tirade of my own;
"You know what I would like to cut off?"
"I'd like to cut off my dog's balls."
I was treated to a look of shocked incredulity. I plowed ahead.
"Yeah, he is always peeing on my bed. He's a chihuahua and thinks my
mattress is one big pee pad."
The conjunctive use of the word 'pee' and 'balls' obviously had offended her more than the sentiment.
She didn't say anything else but just walked away probably thinking I was a little nuts.
Well, equating New York City with a pair of Chihuahua balls may have been a little bit crazy but I was one angry jew and I really felt much healthier after I
said this, as if I had had a mental massage. So, this is my response to the health care reform debate; Whatever they do it's fine with me so long as they don't cut off my balls or send an unlicensed massage therapist to kill my grandma and thanks yes, I do feel better already. Would you like a plate of 'kishkas' with that?
or, perhaps some rocky mountain oysters...?

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