January 9, 2009

Tale of Two Bad Boys and a Song

I call her lollypop, lollypop, lollypop, oh lolly-lolly-lolly
Lollypop, lollypop, oh lolly-lolly-lolly

Lollypop, lollypop, oh, lolly-lolly-lolly

Handicapped, handicapped, oh handi-handi-handi
Handicapped, handicapped, oh handi-handi-handi
Handicapped, handicapped, oh handi-handi-handi

Same tune, different lyrics. Guess which set of lyrics belongs to Don and which set belongs to Daddy Cool---at least I think it was Daddy Cool, I could be wrong.

It’s not one of Don’s favorite or most frequent one-word aphasia songs but I hear it often enough to recognize that singing it is my husband’s way of dealing with stroke-related frustration. Last night The Handicapped Ditty was the last thing I heard before drifting off to sleep---the second time. I had gone to bed several hours before Don and when he came to the bedroom I woke up with the snapping sound of his hearing aid box closing.

“Did you remember to let the dog out?” I muttered, half asleep.

“Oh,” he replied as he backed out of the bedroom in his wheelchair.

Some where in between the bedroom and the outside door something happened with the dog that had Don singing his version of Daddy Cool’s song. “Handicapped, handicapped,” Don vocalized all the way back to the bedroom. It was like a lullaby that wooed me back to sleep.

When I'm a wake and listening to his song I'm often struck by the surreal-ness of hearing such a happy little tune sang with such a sad word repeated over and over again for the lyrics. It's inventive of Don's aphasic mind to be able to put the two together and have a tirade of sorts. But last night I was too sleepy to think these thoughts or to play twenty-one questions to find out what brought it on.

It wasn’t until this morning that I figured out why Don was singing The Handicapped Ditty. The dog either put up a fuss and wouldn’t go outside for him or he was a no-show because the half deaf mutt couldn’t hear Don calling at the door. Or Don could have been calling out "Jean" instead of "Cooper" as he often does and the dog took him at his word. Whatever happened, the evidence was clear that he couldn't get the dog to go out i.e. the darling dog had left his calling card on the carpet, in a nice little pile for the entire world to see or me to step in in the wee hours of the morning. Darn! What do you do at the exact moment of discovery? I couldn’t bawl the dog out. He was still asleep. I couldn’t bawl my husband out. He, too, was still asleep. So, I hopped into the bathroom to give my foot a shower as I contemplated whether to cut the two guys in my life a break or wake them both up with a rousing rendition of my own frustration song:

Shrew-Lady is raising cane in the place
Says you’re both in the dog house again
So wipe those smiles off your guilty faces
And listen to the words of her crazy song.

Jean Riva ©

Painting by Edwin Landsee, 1840, Trial by Jury


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