Elevator Dialogs


Hospital elevators are interesting places.  You are stuck with a bunch of other people who might have the next epidemic exuding through their pores and who wouldn’t mind sharing the wealth.  We didn’t get the contagious crowd this last time, however:  we got the nutcases.

I have no idea if they got on at the psychiatric floor, but I know they did not get off there.  As soon as Beebee and I entered and the doors closed behind us, the fun began.

“I eat a whole banana cream pie every night before I go to bed.”  I glanced at the elderly man who announced this randomly to anyone who wanted to know.  He did not weigh 500 pounds.  Either he had the metabolism of a hummingbird or he was at the hospital to have his brain waves tested.  Perhaps he wanted to let us all know what the secret of his longevity was.

One of the elevator riders decided to be nice.  She giggled and replied, “I like banana cream pie, too.”  But she didn’t chirp a peep about eating a whole one every night for bedtime snack.

I restrained myself from commenting that I loathe banana cream pie.  It would not have been sympathetic, and may have made someone angry, which is not a good situation in an enclosed box that cannot be immediately evacuated.  I also restrained myself from asking, “Oh, banana cream pie syndrome.  Is that why you are here?”

The elevator opened at the third floor, and when no one got off, a young man among us asked, “We’re at ground level.  Why aren’t we all getting off?” 

The woman next to him explained, “This is the floor where they have babies, not ground level.”

He thought about that a couple of seconds and then decided the thirst for knowledge must be satisfied.  “Don’t they have babies on all the floors?  I thought they did.”

I’m not sure what was bouncing through his mind, but I was personally glad that baby-bearing was confined to one floor, and that it was not allowed in the elevator, even if nutcases were.

Mrs. Banana Cream Pie then announced, “In our hospital back home, people can’t have babies at all.”  Before I could wonder if they were missionaries temporarily on leave from the African jungles or if they had a huge infertility problem in their area, she volunteered the name of the rural city they came from.  It was the same place that hit the national news twenty years before because  all its grocery stores ran entirely out of ice cream for a day.  (It was a kinder, gentler world back then, when we all cared immensely if some town in Wisconsin didn’t have ice cream for a whole day.)

She went on to explain that people in their town had to drive sixty miles to get to a hospital where they could have babies.  This brought vivid images of certain intolerable scenarios to mind.  I have an idea that no one of child-bearing age lives there anymore.  It is probably entirely inhabited by older people who eat whole banana cream pies before bed each night.

Let’s just hope what happened with the ice cream twenty years ago never repeats itself with banana cream pies, or there could be a violent uprising.


Eating for Four


When I’ve got nothing else to do, I co-write an informational question and answer column in The Plains Wheeler-Dealer.  We get some pretty interesting questions from time to time, like this one: 

Erna Persnuckett, from Sunken Flat, Nebraska, writes, “Will eating more during my daughter’s pregnancy give her a bigger baby?” 

First of all, Erna, how much you eat will not in any way, shape, or form affect either your daughter or her baby.  It’s nice that you are empathetic and want to be involved in the pregnancy, but … 

Oh, wait!  I’ll bet you meant if your daughter eats more, will she have a bigger baby!  I’m glad you asked that, Erna.  No, eating more will not give her a larger bambino, but it will give her a larger fanny.  I know this from personal experience.  Seriously!  Let me tell you a true-life story. 

My first child caused me a lot of motherly grief, and it started when she was born.  I doubt if anybody ever had a harder labor than I endured, and, to top it all off, after hours of agony I ended up having a C-section.  When Child #2 began to make her presence known, I was quite confident that this time around the delivery would be a cakewalk — nice, tidy little C-section, and voila! Baby would appear on the scene with a minimum of trouble. 

Not so, I found out during my initial visit with the doctor.  Times had changed, and “once a C-section, always a C-section” was no longer the standard procedure.  “We see how beeg baby ees,” he intoned in broken English. “If baby smaw, you have no’mal deleevery.”

“You’ve gotta be kidding me!” was my inward thought.  “I’m not putting up with this, just because some insurance company doesn’t want to pay for the full treatment.”

I came up with the bright idea of overeating until that baby became a respectable size.  I figured an eight or ten pounder ought to convince Mr. Obstetrician that going through a regular labor was out of the question.  I did not consult him or Pregnant Mom-O Magazine to find out if my scientific hypothesis would hold water.  I just proceeded to eat – not for two, but for four. 

By the fifth month, the doc was getting a little nervous.  “You put on nine pounds dees mont’.  Don’ you t’eenk dat ees a beet much?  Where you stuffin’ eet?”

By month #9, I was between thirty-five and forty pounds heavier than when we started the whole adventure, and I intimately understood how beached whales must feel.  Two weeks before delivery, I got the good news: he didn’t think we ought to attempt “no’mal deleevery.” 

The upshot of the whole story is that the baby weighed under six pounds, the C-section wasn’t the piece of cake I remembered from the first pregnancy twelve years before, and I had a powerful lot of tonnage to lose. 

So, Erna, tell your daughter that if she is eating more in hopes of breaking the Guinness Book of World Records for the biggest baby on the planet, it won’t work.  The baby might end up a dainty Thumbelina, and your daughter could end up in the book for other reasons – like taking up more territory than anybody else in Nebraska.


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