Oxygen

By Lisa Scottoline

I’m writing this in the middle of the night.

And here’s why.

Steroids.

I’m not complaining.

I’m recommending.

Let me explain.

We begin two months ago when I develop a head cold and can’t shake it. On book tour, I can’t even hug people and that’s the reason I write books.

By the way, it’s not Covid.

I’m still a Covid virgin.

You think I’m lucky?

You never met Thing Two.

So I called my doctor and he refers me to an specialist, whom I go see.

He looks up my nose and says it’s “frothy.”

Froth does not belong in your nose.

It belongs in your cappuccino.

And now I’ll never drink cappuccino again.

The specialist diagnoses a sinus infection and prescribes an antibiotic and steroids.

Thus changing my life.

I don’t understand how I could go from feeling so bad in the morning to feeling so good at night. In fact, I could paint your house.

If you want, I’ll be right over.

I’ve never felt this good in my life.

I don’t know why I can’t live on steroids.

Maybe I’ll grow big muscles, but that’s not the worst thing in return for feeling like you could run the world.

Should I give it a try?

After I paint your house?

I’m happy I’m cured because I’m a bad patient. All I did was complain. In my defense, I live alone. So I was talking to dogs.

But I was extremely profane.

Somebody needs to explain to me the science of steroids.

Are these the same steroids that make people hit baseballs into the next state?

I think they’re different because you inject those steroids in your butt.

Or maybe that’s testosterone.

And maybe you inject it somewhere else.

All I know is now I have two working nostrils, one on each side. I’m breathing like a champ. I’m pretty sure I’m using up all the oxygen in the universe.

Please be careful.

Don’t exert yourself.

You’re only left with nitrogen or whatever.

The other weird thing about steroids is the dosage. You take six pills in a one day, then five, then four, you get the idea. I’ve never in my life taken five of the same pill one day.

Now I want six hundred.

This is why I don’t do drugs.

The only drug I do is chocolate.

That’s why I don’t buy chocolate cake.

Now I won’t buy steroids.

I have no portion control when it comes to steroids.

I’m gonna grow chin hair, but what else is new?

Plus I can write in the middle of the night. By the way, I apologize for not writing new pieces lately, but I’m on book deadline and my nose is frothy.

Now all I have to do is fall asleep.

I’ve been trying for four hours and I’ll succeed in four days.

Meantime I’ll mow the lawn, wash the car, and run the world.

I think I could run it better.

In my world, everybody would be nice and all waistbands would be elastic.

We’d clean up the Earth, the sea, and our bra drawer.

There would be shows on Netflix we haven’t seen already.

Books would never be burned, but Spanx would.

There would be a price cap on prescription drugs and highlights.

Salted caramels would fall from the sky.

Bradley Cooper would be my husband.

The Supreme Court would have the ethical obligations of a traffic court.

Trials would be televised because we saw everything on Netflix. Also, justice.

That would just be my first day on the job.

Mine would be a government on steroids, literally.

Either that or I’m coming over.

Say when.

© Lisa Scottoline 2024

Column Classic: Banana Fanna Fo

by Lisa Scottoline

I just found out that Mother Mary has been living under an alias. 

You would think that I’d know my mother’s real name. After all, she’s 86, I’m 55, and it’s the kind of thing that’s generally well-established by now. But Mother Mary is full of mysteries.

Let me explain.

You may recall that I took her back to the airport after her last visit, and she almost wasn’t allowed to board the plane to Miami, because her ID card had expired. The airline let her fly only because she was carrying her social security card. Of course, you could have guessed that Mother Mary carries her social security card. She also carries her voter registration card and a photo of Tom Selleck that she claims came with her wallet, but I don’t believe her.

I suspect she just likes Tom Selleck.

Wallets haven’t come with photos since the days of Troy Donohue. Photos don’t even come with photos anymore. All the photos are in the cell phones, guaranteeing that the moments of our lives will last as long as a SIM card.

To continue the story, Brother Frank took her to the DMV for a new ID card, but they wouldn’t renew her card because her last name, which is Scottoline, was different than the one on her birth certificate, which is Lopo. She had to go home and obtain her marriage and divorce certificates from when she married and divorced my father, and she also had to get the marriage and divorce certificates of the guy she married and divorced before my father, since she’s divorced twice, in the manner of all Scottoline women, who need a couple of tries to get something right and often never do.

So she obtained the necessary documents and they went back to the DMV, where they waited in line for three hours, during which Brother Frank tells me that Mother Mary morphed into Line Police. He didn’t need to elaborate; I’ve waited in plenty of lines with Mother Mary, and I know the drill. She watches everything and everybody in the line. 

She makes the average hawk look asleep at the switch.

Mother Mary makes sure that nobody is butting in, holding a place for someone else, or taking too long at the counter. All such infractions are met with eye-rolling, theatrical sighing, or a well-timed, “oh, come on!” And if the line shifts forward but the person in front of her doesn’t move instantly, she’ll lean over, wave him ahead, and say, “Go.”

Her finest moment arises when she spots the person who Just Has A Question.

You’ve seen this person.

They act agitated when they bypass the line and go straight to the counter, as if their question roiled their very soul. Most people ignore the person who Just Has A Question. Not Mother Mary. I’ve seen her stop the person who Just Has A Question and tell him he can take his question to the back of the line where it belongs.

And once, she said to him, “I just have a question, too. Why are you butting in line?”

But to stay on point, she finally gets to the DMV counter, and the clerk is about to issue her a new ID card when he notices something. Mother Mary’s birth certificate doesn’t read Mary Lopo, but Maria Lopo.

“So what?” Mother Mary asked him, and me, later, when she tells me the story.

“Your name isn’t Mary?” I’m dumbfounded. “All my life, you told me your name was Mary.”

“It is. Maria is Mary in Italian.”

“But this isn’t Italy, Mom. Mary and Maria are two different names. I thought your name was Mary, but it’s Maria. How did I not know this?”

“They’re not different names.”

“Yes, they are. That’s why the man couldn’t give you an ID card that says Mary.”

“So now I got an ID card that says Maria Scottoline, but it doesn’t match my bills, my credit cards, my social security card, or my deed.”

“Your name really isn’t Mary?” I ask, still flabbergasted. Twenty years ago, I named my first fictional character, Mary DiNunzio, after her. And for years, I’ve been calling her Mother Mary. But she isn’t Mother Mary. She’s Mother Maria.

She keeps talking away.

But I don’t listen. I don’t understand at all.

I’m the person who Just Has A Question.

Copyright Lisa Scottoline