Tiptoeing Around

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March 5th, 2011

When I was a young boy, I contracted some weird virus or bacterial infection that caused me, inexplicably, to walk on my tiptoes. If I wanted to go fast, I’d literally prance across the floor with my heels several inches off the carpet. It’s amazing I didn’t become a ballet dancer. About a week into […]

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When I was a young boy, I contracted some weird virus or bacterial infection that caused me, inexplicably, to walk on my tiptoes. If I wanted to go fast, I’d literally prance across the floor with my heels several inches off the carpet. It’s amazing I didn’t become a ballet dancer. About a week into this bane, Mom sat next to me and forced my heels down to the floor because the doctor told her if I kept at it, my feet would freeze that way. Unlike the myth about making faces, this supposedly was true. At least that’s what she told me.

As if my childhood weren’t quirky enough, I experienced — from time to time — weird little squeezes in my chest. If I were experienced in the finer arts of hypochondria, I’d have guessed heart attacks. One time they threw me backwards in my chair and I landed on the floor. I even went so far as to tell the substitute teacher in my first grade class that sometimes I have a heart condition. But my parents never followed up on the malady; I think they knew it was nothing other than gas.

This nonchalance seemed to follow a trend. My mother never believed I was color blind. It took a former teacher, years later talking to Mom, to convince her I couldn’t tell certain shades of red from green. To her credit, I didn’t believe it either. I just thought kids were being extremely picky, particularly between blue and purple. I’d hand them a purple crayon when they asked for blue and when they called me on it I’d say, “whatever, they’re both the same.”

When I was looking for a full time job as a photographer, back when drug tests were fashionable, I had to go through a full battery of medical exams when the Saginaw News was interested in hiring me. I took this one simple exam where I had to line up little checkers in order. I asked the technician what the heck he meant by “in order.” He looked at me strangely and repeated, “You know, in order; line them up in order of their shades.”

https://readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rc57easiest.jpgNeedless to say I had no freakin’ clue what was going on and, after taking a stab at it, made the worst possible arrangement. Instead of 1, 2, 3 … all the way to 12, (as noted on the back), the checkers went 1, 12, 2, 11, 3, 10 and so on.

The guy said he had to report my epic failure to Saginaw. I begged him not to. He said he was ethically mandated to report it. I asked if there was another term for my condition. He looked it up in his medical journal and found the term “deuteranopia.”

“Report that,’” I said.

He did, but I didn’t get the job. A decade later the editor of the paper recruited me over and over again to join his team as their photo director. He even had a head hunter call me, which rarely happens in photojournalism. Maybe I was still sore about the whole deuteranopia fiasco. But I think I was just too darn happy with my job at the time in Midland.

And while I’m getting health issues off my chest, those idiotic drug tests screwed me over one other time. I was up for a job at the Orange County Register in California and actually flew myself out there to interview. They squired me off to the local clinic where blood and urine and other fluids were checked. A week later, back in Michigan, I got a call from their clinic saying I’d failed the test and they were about to report it to the Pulitzer Prize winning editor of the paper.

“Wait, wait, wait,” I begged. Honestly, I’m not on recreational drugs. They informed me there were barbiturates in my system, which were more potent than just pot.

Ohhhhh, THOSE drugs. It took another week to get my doctor to talk to their doctor about the migraine medicine he’d been trying out on me. I can’t help but feel the long delay in reporting my drug test cost me the job.

I don’t know where the rest of this entry is going. Heck, I don’t even know where or why it started. But certainly, thinking about silly little afflictions is refreshing compared to what I dealt with these past many months.

I imagine it’s sort of like Obama brokering a peace deal between Sasha and Malia. Or Jon Stewart videotaping his pets. It’s a break from the everyday. 

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