A story before the time of social distancing.
One Sunday morning, I hurt my knee at exercise. I had a pretty bad stretch. After the two miles run, a sharp pain came up at my right knee, then a swell. Before lunch, I could hardly walk. I had a Toastmasters meeting in the afternoon. I was the president of the club. I thought about texting other members that I couldn’t make it but quickly thought better of it. It’s just an injury, not sickness. The closer the meeting time, the harder thinking about not going. When I got to my car at 4 pm, I had to hold anything that I could hold along the walk.
Parking outside of the meeting place, I saw Pamela’s car come right after me. For those who don’t know Pamela, she is one of the founders of the club, club mentor assigned by the district governor. Beyond the club, she is my neighbor and best friend. Above all, wherever she goes, the smile and energy outshine the SoCal sun.
I moved to her skidding car, balancing myself amidst the sharp pain. She opened the door and greeted, “Hi, Bond!” All of a sudden I was dumbstruck. Through the open door, I saw the strangest object in my life leaning at her passage seat.
A big crutch!
In a fraction of a second, I was flooded by questions. “How did she know I hurt my knee? How did she know I need a crutch? How could she find it so quick?” Pamela grabbed the crutch and stepped out of the car. No time to ponder, I extended my hand to the beautiful crutch and murmured in a daze, “Oh Pamela, you are so nice……” But wait, I stopped in mid-sentence as I saw the weirdest thing in my life. Pamela didn’t hand me the crutch. She put it under her armpit, gesturing like she was under pain, too! My brain went blank. Is this a jest to warm up the meeting that we have every time? If so this is really a big set-up, and the meeting still a few minutes away.
She noticed my face, “Oh, Bond. I injured my knee. But it’s okay, no worries.” Then I started to laugh, and laugh. I laughed my lungs out. After I got my breath back, I told her my story. Then it was her turn. Knowing the two injuries were at exactly the same position, another round of lusty chorus. Were there no meeting in a few minutes, we could stand there laughing forever.
It turned out, Pamela slipped in the garden and injuries her right knee two days ago. She went to the ER, had an X-ray and injection. Then she got the crutch. The walk from the parking lot to the meeting room was long and hectic for us. And we no soon showed up at the door than were right under a barrage of questions and stares. We have a theme for every meeting. I remember the theme on that day was “long-distance relationship”. But the real theme was like a Hollywood spy movie “Pamela and Bond”. Everybody had sort of detective questions: “How come Pamela and Bond show up the same time with the same injuries at the same position?”
And Pamela did volunteer to tell a joke at the Joke Master session. Apparently it was not from Google nor a jest book:
“I got my right knee injured. Bond asks me what happened. I tell him that I was trying to pick roses at two places at the same time. Then Bond tells me: Don’t go the two places anymore.”
The next day, Pamela, me and another club member Mariela Anguelov were having a meeting appointment for an upcoming event. We were supposed to meet at lunchtime at a Panera restaurant. I thought about canceling the meeting given the two injuries. But I knew nothing could stop Pamela.
She came without the crutch. She walked to the table where Mariela and I sat, nobody noticed her in the busy restaurant. But the limp was exceedingly palpable for me knowing the commotions in the past two days. The meeting and lunch went fast. Then Mariela went back to her work nearby. Now a chill run up my spine — -are we walking down the long and crowded hallway together? One limp might be able to pass unnoticed, but two? The same posture? Then I saw an emergency door right next to our table. Lifesaver. “Let’s get out from here,” I said.
“My car is parked at the front door. It’s hot outside. Let’s get to the front door.” Pamela said. Okay, again no surprise. For a lady that rushed to the stage cosplaying a dragon in front of near a hundred district officers, walking in a bit limp is never a predicament.
I led the way walking through the hall, the lunch-goers at the Panera store unbearably congested on that day. For a moment I felt something odd at my back — an abrupt silence that felt scary. I knew Pamela was still with me. I sped up and stormed out of the gate. I held it for Pamela. To my surprise, I saw she was crying, one hand busy to wipe tears. I asked, “You okay, Pamela?” She cackled:
“I can’t hold my laugh; I can’t hold my tears. Everybody stops and stares at us — the two people limping on the same leg.”