(19) My Infantry, Continued…

Now that the memory of my grandmother’s day had slowly faded away, the second most memorable thing I experienced was with my best friend Cliff and a bouncer at a nightclub. Now most people going through chemo and even doctors would probably tell you that a club is the last place you should go when your sick. But what can I say, I was 23 years old and I didn’t want to feel different nor lose that time in my life because of this disease. I wanted to feel normal so bad that I did things I probably should not have done or attempted. But this night Cliff and I decided to give it a go and hit a nightclub in the city.

Cliff came and picked me up from my house and when he saw me he began to laugh. When I asked him what was so funny, he simply replied with, “you look like we are going to the snow and boarding.” I began to laugh with him as I walked over to the mirror to check myself out. So there I was with a beanie, scarf, jacket over a sweater, pants and boots on. All that was missing now where my goggles and I would be ready for the snow and not a club. I couldn’t stop laughing at this point because never in a million years did I ever think I would dress myself like this!  But when you are going through chemo and really sick, the 60-degree weather feels more like 20 degrees, so I went a little over board and overdressed. So after my mother and cliff helped me pick out a nice yet warm outfit, we hopped in the car and took off to the city.

While we were driving cliff kept making sure the temperature in the car was ok and the music wasn’t to loud. I looked at him and said, “I’m not 80, and if anything is wrong I’ll tell you.” He started laughing as did I, but the feeling of a great friend that truly cares is priceless and more than I could ask for. As we pulled up to the parking lot of the club we were going to, he made sure I was up for going in and let me know if at anytime I felt sick, we can go.

So now at this point Cliff and I are waiting in line to get in, and this girl behind us starts up a conversation. Not even one minute into it, she looks at me and says, “you ok? You look really sick or something.” I started laughing and replied with: “ Yeah I’m sick, but it’s ok cancer is not contagious!” Unfortunately, my humor was not that funny, and think she may have taken it the wrong way. But that was myself hiding behind the fact that I was afraid of anyone knowing I was sick or treating me different because of it. After I noticed she was uncomfortable with our interaction I quickly turned around and kept to myself. Now if that weren’t awkward enough my encounter with the bouncer would be a million times worse.

Here is how the interaction with the bouncer went as he called me up to check my ID:

Bouncer: You got an ID?

Me: Yeah it’s right here.

Bouncer: Um, yeah you can go in but you got to take that hat off.

Cliff steps in front of me to talk to the bouncer.

Cliff: Hey man he can’t take that hat off.

Bouncer: What is it glued to his head or something?

Cliff: No he is going through chemo and needs to keep his head warm.

Bouncer: Wow, that a new excuse I haven’t heard yet. Good try. Either you take off your hat or don’t come in at all.

Me: It’s ok Cliff I can handle this.

So at this point I looked at the bouncer and gave him an eye opening experience.

Me: So this is a new excuse for you huh? Well trust me if I could have done my hair that I barely have I would have.

Bouncer: Look its not my problem and don’t have time for people that make excuses.


What I did next was the almost like being a performer on Venice beach with a big audience. So I took off my hat, licked my hand and wiped the top of my head from back to front. I then showed my hand to the bouncer that was now covered in hair, and said, “So do you think this is still an excuse for me trying to where my hat?” The bouncer was lost for words and just looked at me and around at everyone that was watching. Now some would say I went a little overboard, but I felt like this had to be done and he needed to know his attitude was not ok.

After he was able to collect his thought, he said, “I am really sorry and hope you can forgive me for being rude like that.” I quickly told him that it was ok and some people jut don’t have a clue, then I told cliff I wanted to go somewhere else.  Cliff and I started heading back to his car and that’s when I began to break down.

Was I different? Why do people look at me as if I am already dead? But this part of my memory never gets answered because I start to snap out of the vault that hold my memories and back into reality.

So here I am again sitting on my bed, and back in the present time. What’s next in my life? With out hesitation I begin to shuffle through the papers on my desk, and there it is, my bucket list. Now it was time to check another item off on my list!

(18) My Infantry

Looking back on my life and trying to pull out all my positive memories, I find that two very funny and meaningful ones play through out my mind on a constant repeat. The first one being of my grandmothers and I trip to the smoke shop in Sonoma County.

Grandma and the Head Shop:

My grandmother had caught wind that I just received my medical marijuana card and thought that none better but to take me “weed” shopping followed by “water pipe” shopping.  Now I know what your thinking! “ Damn wish my grandma was cool like this!” I know that’s what I was thinking, plus the plain fact that she even acknowledged I was going to be smoking weed. So moving on, my grandmother came and picked me up, seeing that I was incapable of driving do to the heavy pain meds I was on that day, and asked me where the “medical grass place” was.  First I couldn’t help but laugh at the fact she called it “grass” and second as if she was trying to conceal her identity. Picture this if you will, she was wearing an enormous hat, with a scarf wrapped around her neck and clothing that covered every inch of her body besides her hands.  She even explained to me that she was just the driver and helping her grandson out, and wanted no credit to helping me get my marijuana. Once we arrived at the cannabis club she parked as far away from the entrance as possible thinking she might get caught or something. As I am getting out of the car she tells me that I should buy many different kinds and see which one works best, and that the ones with the name purple in it, she heard where the good ones. Now at this point I am walking into the club thinking to myself, “ Wow, did my grandma just tell me to get the purple stuff?” Moving forward I purchased my “meds” and we continued on to the smoke shop, which was conveniently located right down the street. We parked and walked in, but as we did I noticed my grandmother surveillance the area as if she was on the lookout, or maybe someone would recognize her.  Once we got inside the conversation we had with the clerk was priceless!

Grandma: Nick come over take a look at this one! It’s made out of a real nice wood.

Me: Grandma, get your mind out of the 60’s! It’s all about glass now.

Grandma: Oh ok… Oh my! These look like crack pipes!

Me: What! Grandma you can’t say that in here.

Clerk: Ma’am we don’t sell crack pipes, they are illegal!

Grandma: Oh I’m sorry.

Me: Maybe you should wait outside, while I get this.

Now at this point I wanted to bust out in laughter, but knew that it was not the right time nor place to do so.  I quickly bought my smoking device, and headed to the car. My grandmother looked at me when I got into the car, and said she was sorry that she embarrassed me. I quickly replied with,” You don’t embarrass me, I think you’re the best grandmother anyone can have.” She began to tear up as she started the car and then drove me home so I could relax.

This day meant the world to me, and not just because I got to legally purchase marijuana, but the plain fact that my grandmother took time out of her day and went against what she believed in to help me out in a time of need. She was always at my side and even took me to my chemo treatment on days my parents could not. She held my hand when I was in pain, watched over me as I slept in the hospital, and made sure that I was taken care of no matter what time of day it was. This woman I call my grandmother is the brightest star in my universe and so lucky to have her be a part of my survivor army!

Now that was a great humorous story and wonderful fun memory, but the next one that plays over and over came at the hands of my best friend cliff and my night out on the town a few weeks into my chemo sessions. This memory was meaningful in the way of what a true friend is, and to see how un-informed the people in the world around me are. So it was a boy’s night out yet again, but this time chemo style!