The Truth, Mainly - 01/04/1993

Presidency, broken leg lose appeal when weisenhiemers get into act
by Leon Satterfield

Like George Bush, I'm ready to move on. I've had enough mockery.

George Bush, in case you've forgotten, is our country's president. Hardly anyone pays any attention to him now, and when he does get his name in the papers, he doesn't get the respect of his office.

On Christmas Eve, for example, he showed us what a magnanimous guy he is by pardoning those six good old boys accused of lying to Congress about the Iran-Contra business. But instead of praising the President's forgiving nature, media weisenheimers criticized him for covering his own behind.

Then on Christmas day, the President's six-year-old granddaughter popped him with a snowball and gave him a black eye.

Media weisenheimer: "Hey, Mr. President, what happened to your eye? Did you walk into a door while you were trying to see if your behind was covered, heh, heh?"

The President: "No problem. Holiday hi-jinks. Snowball from extended family. Thrown in jest. Merry Christmas and God bless America."

Media weisenheimer: "Hey, Mr. President, that wouldn't have been your six-year-old granddaughter, would it? Did you grant her a Presidential pardon, heh, heh?"

So it's easy to believe what all the pundits keep telling us, that George Bush can hardly wait for Bill Clinton's inauguration. Having the presidency isn't fun any more.

I know how he feels. Having a broken leg isn't fun any more either.

It was fun for a while. Friends may have snickered behind my back when they heard I slipped on the only piece of ice in town, but they took me seriously when I had surgery to patch up my broken fibula. It was a respectable injury, the kind that football players get, and when I went back to work, people opened doors and called me "sir," colleagues brought my lunch to my office, and an entourage of students followed me into class, carrying my books, my cup of tea, and a pillow to rest my fibula on.

I was wonderfully stoic about the whole thing.

"Not so bad," I'd say. "Only broke one. Only hurts when I hop around."

"Don't hop around," my wife would tell me, "or you'll hurt yourself."

Then she'd serve my meals in the little nest she made for me around the recliner in front of the television.

Even Ned, the one-eyed Beagle with the headstrong personality and the mismatched jaws, treated me with respect. When I came hopping to my nest, he'd jump right out of my recliner without even growling.

All that lasted about two weeks. It started going bad, I can see now, when the surgeon took the stitches out of my incision. He had to saw off the old-fashioned, but honest, plaster cast to get at them. Then he put me in a space-age, high-tech, nylon, velcro, and stainless steel walking cast. The nylon is electric blue and the overall effect is pretty gaudy.

You wouldn't want to co-sign a note for anyone wearing one of these.

It's the sort of thing one of those Gentleman's Quarterly fops might wear in an Aspen ski lodge while he's looking slender and elegant sipping a hot toddy in front of a fireplace. You'd swear the guy didn't have a broken leg at all, that he was wearing the walking cast because he'd rather look slender and elegant and sip hot toddies than get his hair mussed by mountains and snow and gravity. You'd probably take one look at his walking cast and snicker.

That's what one of my weisenheimer students did the first day I wore it to class. No more entourage carrying my books, tea, and pillow. Two days later Ned refused to get out of my recliner until I goosed him good with my crutch. Since then, he looks at my walking cast in the same way he looks at a fire plug.

Despite what my wife says, I don't think I'm being a big baby when I say that everybody looks at my walking cast.

On our way to visit relatives over Christmas, a big tattooed weisenheimer at a truck stop in Missouri looked at the electric blue nylon.

"Bad leg," I said, pulling up my pantsleg so he could see the cast went all the way to my knee. "Shot the sonovabitch in two. Hunting grizzly."

"Well, now," he said. "Ain't that special."

"I can take it off," I said. "I can show you the scar."

"Good grief," my wife said. "Stop hopping around and get in the car." And that's the way it's been for about six weeks now. Weisenheimer strangers look at my electric blue walking cast and I pull up my pantsleg and tell them I just had surgery for an old war wound but it doesn't hurt so much any more unless I hop around. They say "uh huh," and then they see someone on the other side of the room they've got to talk to.

Had enough of that kind of stuff, George and me. Ready to move on.


Satterfield is a college professor and writes as a means of discovery.

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