In 1907, opera singer Enrico Caruso needed to visit a doctor, but he did not want the media to find out about the visit, so he decided to visit the doctor incognito; therefore, Mr. Caruso used the name of his voice coach and accompanist, Richard Barthelemy. Following the examination, the doctor said, “All right, Mr. Caruso, I’ll get you well.” Surprised, Mr. Caruso asked, “You know me then, doctor?” The doctor smiled and replied, “Mr. Caruso, after years on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera, do you present yourself here and expect to pass incognito? Why did you give me the name of your friend instead of your own? Don’t you know that doctors are held to professional secrecy?”
On April 19, 2005, George Lopez received a new kidney that was transplanted from his wife’s body into his. After the operation, he joked, “Some people say that my wife and I are joined at the hip, but we’re really joined at the kidneys!” His wife, Ann, denies that she is a hero because she gave one of her kidneys to her husband. Instead, she says that someone who gives a kidney to a person he or she does not even know is the real hero. By the way, Mr. Lopez, the star of the TV sitcom The George Lopez Show, is a very famous person. Even though he checked into the hospital under a pseudonym, Tom Ace, he was recognized. When someone called him by his pseudonym, the janitor said, “Hey, loco, that’s George Lopez.” Actually, Mr. Lopez himself was fooled by his own pseudonym. After the operation, the nurses were yelling, “Mr. Ace, wake up!” Mr. Lopez thought at first that they were yelling at someone else to wake up.
Critic Simon Barnes believes that the thrillers of Dick Francis are predictable, but that isn’t a problem because in addition to being predictable they are predictably good. In fact, they make perfect reading on a transatlantic flight from London to New York. Mr. Barnes writes, “Three bloody Marys and a new Dick Francis and you’re in New York before you know you’ve taken off.” By the way, Mr. Francis was a jockey before he became an author. Like all jockeys, he was frequently injured, fracturing his collarbone six times, breaking his nose five times, and fracturing his skull once. Mr. Francis remembers one particular accident: “A horse put his foot right through my face, slicing my nose open. I had 32 stitches from above my eye to the end of my nose. The doctor was delighted because he could show the inside of a nose to all his students.”
In the summer of 1987, opera tenor José Carreras discovered that he had leukemia. He underwent chemotherapy in Barcelona, where he sang arias as a way of timing how much longer the chemo sessions would last. The chemo was not completely effective, so he went to Seattle, Washington, where he had a bone marrow transplant. Lots of fans wrote him while he was in the hospital — he even received a letter addressed simply to “Tenor, Seattle.” His rival tenors, Plácido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti, came through for him. Mr. Pavarotti sent him this telegram: “José, get well. Otherwise, I won’t have any competition.” Mr. Domingo frequently telephoned him and also flew to Seattle to visit him.
Maria was a 10-year-old Mexican girl who was badly hurt in a car accident and went into and stayed in a coma. At home, she stayed in the coma for seven months. Fortunately, on July 27, 1976, a stray cat came in through an open window and started licking Maria’s thumb. Maria’s fingers twitched — this was the most movement that Maria had made on her own since going into the coma. Maria’s mother prayed, Wake, up, Maria. Wake up, Maria. The cat stayed in Maria’s bedroom and kept licking her hand. On the eighth day after the cat had started licking her hand, Maria woke up. She recovered rapidly.
This is a story that country musician and author Kinky Friedman tells. Don Imus hosted a radio show on which his friend Mr. Friedman occasionally appeared. In June 2000 Mr. Imus was thrown by a horse and suffered severe injuries: 17 broken ribs, a punctured lung, and a broken clavicle. He was in an isolated area, and paramedics could not reach him for two hours. After recovering — slowly — Mr. Imus said on his radio show that the two hours he had spent waiting for the paramedics were the longest two hours of his life. A listener called in and said that the longest two hours of his life were whenever Mr. Imus’ show featured Kinky Friedman.
Actor Jeremy Piven caused an uproar on Broadway when he stopped acting in David Mamet’s Speed-the-Plow, alleging mercury poisoning caused by eating too much fish. Mr. Mamet came up with a cutting criticism when he said about Mr. Piven, “My understanding is that he is leaving show business to pursue a career as a thermometer.” Actually, an arbitrator backed up Mr. Piven’s account, but that did not stop the criticism. The tabloid New York Post carried a story that said, “An arbitrator bought Jeremy Piven’s fish tale hook, line and sinker.”
In the summer of 1920, the parents of Dick King-Smith, the author of Babe: The Gallant Pig, met. Dick’s father was on crutches, the result of an injury in World War II, and he noticed a pretty, 18-year-old woman. Shortly afterward, she was confined to her room with a cold. He found out where she was staying, and he went there and stood in the sand of the beach. He waited until she appeared at a window, and then he used a crutch to write in the sand, “GET WELL SOON.”
Composers and lyricists sometimes work very hard. Brothers George and Ira Gershwin worked together on the musical Oh, Kay! George composed music, and Ira wrote lyrics. Unfortunately, Ira suffered an attack of appendicitis and had to stay for an extended time in a hospital (in the days before antibiotics). He kept begging to be released from the hospital, saying, “They’re waiting for me to finish the lyrics!”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure: A Retelling in Prose, by David Bruce
Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist: A Retelling in Prose
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