Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Big Boy Pants

I'm a man. In the early stages of my diagnosis, I put on long pants for my visits with Dr Phan. My big boy pants.  For me it was a symbolic gesture that I needed to man up and fight this shit.  My whole life I've not been a fan of long pants. I like shorts. In college, and living in LA, I could go year round without ever having to put on a pair of long pants. I made it 365 days in  row one time with wearing only shorts.  At my job now, I have to wear slacks and a dress shirt. We used to have to wear ties, but a couple of years ago, we went to business casual and ties were out.  Thank god. Ties are like a boa constrictor around my neck, choking the life out of me.  Yesterday I had to wear a tie for an important meeting and it felt so unnatural. It was my first time with a tie on in probably two years.  I can't even button the neck button. It's not that it won't button, it's just that I can't stand the feel of it. constricting. I'm also big time claustrophobic.  If I'm in a confined space, I feel like I can't breath. My heart starts beating like crazy. It's a horrible feeling.

I have never really been in a fight in my life.  In grade school, during a kick ball game (a sport in which I had a modicum of success), a classmate, who was playing third base, kept calling me Fat Matt.  When I finally legged out a triple and was standing on third, I told the kid to stop calling me that or I'd kick his ass.  He stopped.

In my early 20s, I worked for my uncle, driving a truck.  We used to deliver to place in east LA. I was on the trailer, helping put a strap around some steel pipe.  One of the workers said "hurry up, Jew boy". Repeatedly.  Eventually, I took off my work gloves and started to climb off the trailer and told him we were going to step outside and I would kick his ass.  The other folks around stopped anything from happening. Which is probably a good thing. I'm not sure I could kick any one's ass.

I was a party once in Santa Monica and a couple of guys wanted me to step outside " to talk". I'd been minding my own business, but I had a feeling that their intentions weren't so good.  I balked at going outside. They were persistent.  I eventually rounded up my people and left. I think a month later, I heard that a friend of my uncle had been at the same house and had the same experience. He, however, went outside with the two guys and they proceeded to kick his ass. Craziness.

In college, I cut my own hair. It's curly so no big deal.  When I first went to school I was at UC San Diego. A beautiful campus, known for its science curriculum.  Like I said once before, I used to be pretty smart. Not so sure about that now. My best friend from growing up was at nearby San Diego State.  My second week at UCSD, in my dorm room, I cut my own hair. I was a freshman.  Three roommates. One other freshman, two seniors.  The two older roommates laughed incessantly at my jacked up hair cut, so I went to my room and closed the door to stew. While in my room, they tossed a firecracker underneath my bed and scared the crap out of me.  They came into the room and started up with taunts again. I got out of bed and actually punched one guy in the jaw, with all my might. He didn't budge, but he did have a stunned look on his face. I was stunned as well, I'd never thrown a punch before and have never thrown one again, if you don't count inanimate objects.  The other guy said "damn Matt, for that we ought to kick your ass".  "Fuck you both" I responded.  I proceeded to pack up my stuff, left the dorm and went to my friend's apartment over near San Diego State.  I dropped out of UCSD the very next day and enrolled at SDSU the next semester.  A year later, I transferred to UCLA.  SDSU just wasn't challenging for me. UCSD would have been the perfect school for me. That damn haircut.

Anyhow, my first quarter at UCLA, I got a part time job with Chuck Barris of Gong Show fame.  I never even finished that first quarter at UCLA and was actually kicked out school for failing every class.  The job became full time and I had a heck of a good time working for Chuck Barris.

Fast forward to today. I'm a man. I wore big boy pants for my first visits with the oncologist (although I am back to wearing shorts for visits and treatment).  I recently had an eye exam. My vision is getting kind of messed up, thanks to the combination of getting old and the steroids and drugs that I am taking. I have prescription sunglasses and glasses that I wear for night vision, driving, movies, that sort of thing. Lately though, it's hard to even recognize faces down the hall.  Ironically, the eye doctor told me "it might be time to put on your big boy pants and wear glasses all the time"  Huh?  How did he know those words had a symbolic meaning to me? It's curious to me, how many small little coincidences there are.

Man up is a bit of an over used expression of late. But I like it. It seems approrpriate and fitting.


  1. Amazing what you don't know about your children. that's why you dropped out of UCSD?

  2. As someone who (I think) witnessed firsthand the 365 days of straight short wearing at UCLA, I particularly enjoyed this post! Keep fighting! --Julee


Berenson Oncology Success Rate

 Some reading about my myeloma specialist's success rate. A press release and an article from Targeted Oncology.