After a Fashion

Why is Stephen suddenly interested in bed jackets and catheter cozies?

WHAT A PISSER OK, we're going to drop the "royal we" shit for today. Dammit, I've worked hard to get a grip on my weight and my health. I've finally begun to be the person I always wanted to be, and life is good. The multiple celebrations of my 50th birthday made me feel so special and loved. But throughout the preparations for the festivities, I was having an increasingly distressing round of tests, culminating with a biopsy on my prostate that indicated a very aggressive form of cancer. It started as a damn joke when I blithely said to my doctor, "Well, now that I'm 50, I suppose I should get checked." "Drop 'em, and bend over," she said. "Oh, I didn't mean today!" But we did the exam and the blood tests. A few days later, the doctor called me in. For my age, the prostate-specific-antigen reading on my prostate should be around 2.5. Mine is 52. But I always do everything in a big way, right? They did 12 biopsies, and each one came back with a high level of cancer, indicating that the cancer had metastasized. So then I was scheduled for a CAT scan, bone scan, and manicure (the manicure was just something I added to the list myself). Turns out there are nodes, cysts, and areas of suspicion on my liver, kidneys, and cheekbone, and I had a chipped nail. We're still trying to find out what all that means, but the urologist emphatically stated that the testosterone in my body was fueling the cancer. Testosterone? Excuse me, in my body? Well you could have knocked me over with a feather. He said the production of testosterone had to be stopped and that there was a drug that would do the job at a mere $4,000 a month ... or I could get, in the politest term possible, "neutered." Being uninsured makes everything very sticky at a time like this; maybe if I just swing by the ASPCA, I can get neutered fairly cheaply. Fuck, it's all so scary and moving at a snail's pace. The waiting and waiting for appointments and results through public assistance is excruciating. Of course, being a drama queen, I expect the worst – years of wasting away, unable to rise out of bed, slow curtain, the end. But more than anything ... I've been obsessing about bed jackets – you know, those smart little affairs that bedridden women in the Thirties and Forties wore when entertaining. They were always short so that they didn't interfere with the blankets and usually had three-quarter sleeves so you didn't drag them through your tray of food. Bed jackets were the perfect canvas for all manner of ornamentation: feathers, beading, embroidery, pleats, lace, fur, etc. Think Barbara Stanwyck in Sorry, Wrong Number or Deborah Kerr in An Affair to Remember and Sharon Tate in Valley of the Dolls, and you begin to get the picture. I mean, please, being bedridden is no excuse to ignore your fashion responsibility. In fact, I'm considering a new clothing and accessories collection for the bedridden called the Invalid in Fashion. ("We put the 'IN' in invalid!") The aforementioned bed jackets will, of course, be the signature item, and we expect our line of luxury lap robes to be a big hit. But we'll also feature such indispensable items as catheter cozies and cloisonné bedpans. Yeah, of course, I'm laughing about it all I can afford to, since it's the only way I'll make it through.

(l-r) Mark Erwin, Marc Harmon, Margaret Moser, and Stephen Rice at the American YouthWorks benefit
(l-r) Mark Erwin, Marc Harmon, Margaret Moser, and Stephen Rice at the American YouthWorks benefit (Photo by Seabrook Jones)

HELPING CLIFFORD The annual Help Clifford Help Kids benefit for American YouthWorks at the Palmer Events Center last Thursday was one kickass party. Booker T. & the MGs tore up the place, but I was transfixed by watching Eddie Floyd sing "Knock on Wood," an all-time favorite of mine. This particular event is casual and relaxed and one of the coolest events to kick back and indulge in a true Austin experience.

THE SKY IS FALLING Ever since the push for residential development Downtown, music lovers have been screeching like Chicken Little that it would be the death knell of the live music capital of the world. With meetings of various commissions about decibels, etc., I'm afraid we can look forward to becoming the low music capital of the world.

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Austin style, Austin fashion, Cancer, 50th birthday, biopsy, prostate, cancer, Testosterone, Barbara Stanwyck, Deborah Kerr, Sharon Tate, bed jacket, The Invalid in Fashion, catheter cozies, cloisonné bedpans, Help Clifford Help Kids, American Youthworks, Booker T. & the MGs, Eddie Floyd, Live Music Capital of the World

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