Naked Redemptin

May 17, 2024 at 2:09 p.m.
Sy Rosen
Sy Rosen Sy Rosen

I don’t know if this ever happened to you, but as I got older, I started looking back on my life. Not with pleasure but obsessing about all the mistakes I had made. And I exaggerated these mistakes, thinking they were monumental and irreversible. This included everything from my job choices to the five quesadillas I had for lunch.

Luckily, this all changed when I bumped into an old friend, Dan Stookols. We hadn’t seen each other for over 30 years but recognized each other right away and were very excited.

“Well,” I said.

“Well, well,” he replied.

“Well, well, well,” I said, building on the conversation.

The thing is, standing there with Dan, my mind kept racing back to one incident - one awful event: It happened freshman year, the night before our first college final exams. Dan was pre-med. He was one of those annoying people who knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life since he was three years old. 

However, organic chemistry soon turned Dan’s cocky smile into a look of panic.

That evening, about twenty of us were scattered in our dorm’s lobby, determined to spend an all-nighter studying. The first two hours were spent ordering pizza followed by three minutes of eating the pizza. We then started studying, most of us passing out around 3am. 

I woke up about an hour later and the whole lobby was deathly silent except for Dan hopping in a corner chanting chemical equations as he patted his head and rubbed his stomach. There were three empty packages of No-Doz lying at his feet.

“Dan,” I said softly. 

“CH2 = CH2 + H — OH, Hoo Ha Hoo!” he shouted back.

Then Dan, mumbling something about isomers, ripped off his sweatshirt and headed outside into the freezing night. As he ran, he slid off his pants and then his jockey shorts.

The last thing I saw was his rear-end glistening under the streetlights as he ran through the campus.

He kind of reminded me of Chief in Cuckoo’s Nest as he ran to freedom. Only Dan was Jewish, pale, and had a slightly misshaped behind with one cheek larger than the other (not that I spent a lot of time looking at it).

The next day, Dan’s parents came to take him home - he was dropping out of school. I could just see his head peering out of the Buick’s rear window and hoped he had his clothes on. His parents looked like the type that would have leather upholstery and I was worried that Dan might stick to the seat.

And now, here he was years later, his doctor dreams shattered because of one stupid mistake. I kept thinking about all the people who did or said one thing that ruined their lives. I didn’t want to ask the next question, but was too nosy not too: “So, what are you doing with yourself?”

“I’m a doctor,” he giggled.

“You’re kidding? That’s really something.”

“Yeah. I’m a neurosurgeon,” and he giggled again. “I gotta get going - I’m due in surgery in half an hour.”

As he walked away (one cheek still larger than the other, not that I was looking), I could still hear him giggling. I stood there thinking this was really great. One terrible event doesn’t destroy your entire life. You’re able to rectify things, turn them around. There’s forgiveness, redemption, second chances. 

But I still wouldn’t use Dan as my doctor. 

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