On Jan. 5, I hurt my knee.
It was a small thing, but then it got worse. X-rays are showing “significant arthritis.” You’re saying, “Big deal, a bad knee; welcome to the club.”
Wait just a minute. We’re not talking just any knee; we’re talking about the one that She loves.
“And he has such cute legs, really beautiful legs,” She says. “Always strong and flexible. Maybe not Nijinsky knees, but at least Michael Fassbender knees.”
She’s right. In high school, I played a chorus boy in a 1930s swimsuit in “Best Foot Forward.” We won’t talk of that now except to say that in that year’s annual, I got “Best Legs.” You don’t forget things like that.
In 1956 in theater school I hurt this very same knee in a play. The doctor who treated me remarked, “I remember these legs. Weren’t you Laertes in Hamlet over at the Playhouse?”
“You looked great in those purple and white tights, by the way.”
True story, except that I played Osric, not Laertes. A small lie.
In January came the fall, and it took me over a month to get in to a specialist, not actually a doctor, but a P.A. — a physician’s assistant.
She came along to witness my bravery, and sat in a small chair, holding my puffer that still bore my HILLARY ’16 talisman button.
After an hour of many tests, the young, capable P.A., who looked all of 19 years old, announced that an injection of cortisone would keep me dancing for a couple of months.
In marketplace stop-and-chats, I’ve learned that almost every one of you are way ahead of me on this.
“Will this hurt?” I asked.
“Will I scream? That kind of moment?”
“I hope not.”
“Will I need to bite on my belt like De Niro did in “Ronin?”
I thought this was a good time to clutch the rosary I keep in my pocket to ease me through moments like this, but it was in the pocket of the pant leg that had been pushed up, and despite my struggle, it became unavailable for clutching.
It went deep into the space between the fibula and the tibia. I may be wrong; when I wince, I don’t hear well.
The pain — no pinch — is sharp and lasts a full three seconds. Three seconds. I had my eye on the clock.
Had She not been there, I might have managed a tiny scream, perhaps a fragment of the F-word. But there She was, sitting in the chair in the corner. At least I hoped She had seen how I had taken the pain and how brave I was, how unflinching.
“Pain is temporary,” someone once said, “Glory … is forever.”
I can handle pain, but I really dig glory, and I really needed some glory.
Turns out that She missed my moment. During the whole thing, she simply looked away, fixing her gaze on HILLARY ’16.
Omnis gloria fluxa. Thank you, Father Paul, S.J.
J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.