Concluding my holidays in the USA
Flying across the heavens, in one of Mr. Boeing’s fine vehicles, at 600 miles an hour. I am wearing a ‘support stocking’ on my right leg, one out of a packet… of one. I must ask the stewardess as to when we get half way across as I will need to change it to put it on the other leg. This is to combat ‘deep vein thrombosis’ which is the last thing I want to get, as my legs ache enough as it is.
I had asked my wife to get a set of stockings from the farmacia before we went, supposing that, like most other garments worn below the waist, they either come in pairs or, at the very least, in the plural form. The price certainly suggested at least two, with possibly a spare third one, in case I got a run.
I was reading about an ingenious invention in the free airline magazine while cooped uncomfortably in my small seat flashing across the sky: it seems that somebody has come up with tights with three legs. The idea is that the fashionable young things wear them with two legs duly rolled on, and the third, the spare one, tucked modestly under the belt. Then, in the event of a ladder or some other unforeseen accident, you merely do a quick change and ¡voila!
This itself reminded me of another invention, jolly nearly as clever, made by me while doing the laundry one day and searching for The Missing Sock. Washing machines, as everyone knows, have a special feature that subtracts one sock out of every wash. They are apparently all waiting for us after we pass on. Paradise is quite warm, but it is said that the souls up there like to cover themselves with a nice pair of woolly socks.
My invention was simplicity itself. Sell socks in packs of threes. You could wear two and save one against the inevitable loss, and, better still, as you waited for one of them to be taken by the sock-pixies, you could rotate the entire set. Today’s left foot goes onto tomorrow’s right foot and today’s right foot will be in tomorrow’s wash. Clever, you’ll agree.
Once arrived in New York, or at least its airport, which is the size of Huercal Overa, we got onto a second, smaller plane, and headed inland. A third flight in a tiny prop job followed this and the final two-hour hop was in an aircraft so small they practically gave us a leather helmet and goggles along with the peanuts.
We eventually arrived in a modest mid-western town, about the size of Turre, furnished with sixty two churches, three burger joints and one enormous Shop. So large was this store that fat people (of which there are a grate meny in America) would cruise slowly around the aisles on enormous battery-run shopping trolleys/seats which look something like the dumpers which plague Mojácar building sites. These clearly highly-prized customers would scoop their shopping off the shelves in armfuls into their trolleys, much to the satisfaction of all concerned. I was hoping that there would be an aisle of support stockings somewhere inside that gigantic shopping-warehouse and so I followed a large schooner of fat person around until we finally came to the self-medication department.
Much has been written about American health-care – or lack of it – and it is true that a visit to a doctor is prohibitively expensive as you have to buy his lawyer a three-month cruise around the Caribbean at the same time. To combat this, rather as we obtain pretty much anything we want from the farmacia here in Spain with a merry ‘yes, I’ll bring the prescription along tomorrow’, over there many of the pills, unguents, capsules, powders and teas available on the shelves of the larger supermarkets are labeled as ‘untested by the FDA’. Almost faith-healer stuff. You are, as it were, on your own. Yes, you can buy aspirins (a box of 600 of them for a very satisfying five dollars. Compare!) or cough syrup, or chewy antacid tablets but I couldn’t help treating myself to a box of the intriguingly named ‘Queasy-Ohs’ (guaranteed to hit that hangover on the head, thanks to its secret ingredient, a South American root), along with a packet of ‘Stay-Alert’ pills with 8,500 times the recommended daily dose of Vitamin B12 plus the equivalent of a dozen American coffees – come to think of it, about the same as one Spanish one.
Oh, and a gun.
The Americans, inveterate television watchers all, consider themselves quite savvy about medicine. Naturally, they are helped in this by the big pharmaceutical companies both in scripted chat on certain TV shows as well as the astonishing number of medical adverts.
‘Well BJ, you seem to have deep vein thrombosis’.
‘Figured as much. Can you write me a prescription for Vainothrob?’
‘That guy on the TV with a beard, huh? There you go, that’ll be 20,000 dollars…’
The support stockings were on the next aisle, and near them was another clever invention. A thin cotton sock-bag. You put your socks into this before putting the little bag into the washing machine and they will be there waiting for you after their wash. All three of them.
I’m home now and my legs are fine. Unfortunately, I took one of those ‘stay awake’ pills when I arrived in Madrid so that I could drive all the way down to the coast and I haven’t slept since. My eyes are red and sore and it’s five in the morning here.
About eleven in the evening over there. Right now in Texas, they’ll all be shopping.