the early years the friends the family the mom the wife the TV producer the ham the driver

A few years ago, I had the privilege of being one of the writers on a show that Obi Wan Sue Brophey was directing. We were shooting at a studio that never had to be worried about being called ‘state of the art’ and one of the few functioning telephones was in the writer’s room. I hadn’t seen a hand-crank telephone since Andy of Mayberry.

Generally, the writers frightened the rest of the production people so they didn’t come into our room very often. On reflection, the word “room” might not really apply. It was more of a refuse containment area. Sue, who was always welcome, came in to use the phone. In the writer’s room there was nowhere to hide, so Luciano Casimiri, the other writer on the show, and myself could not help but over hear. She was concerned because Katherine was at home with an ear infection, I think. Antibiotics had been prescribed for the usual ten day regime but Sue noted that they were running out far too soon. She was calling the pharmacy to make sure they were given the correct amount.

After reaching the dispensary, Sue fully and clearly explained her concerns. Then silence, as the pharmacist responded. Looking back, I think what I saw coming from Sue’s ears was steam, but at the time I was probably high anyway.

That’s when I heard the phrase, “My good man...” Now, I’ve heard the term ‘my good man’ hundreds of times, in fact, I’ve used it many times myself as in “I’ll have a double and keep them coming my good man.” It is usually jaunty and full of good will. Not this time. It just hung in the air like I wish most politicians would. “My good man...”

It was like one of those moments in a Western when tumble weed blows up Main Street, you hear only a slight moan of the wind and maybe a coyote. Time stopped and so did the pharmacist’s heart, I imagine.

On this occasion the phrase and the tone of voice caused the hairs on the back of my neck to spring up. How can I put this? The phrase, as used by Sue that day, meant something like, “Look pal, if we were face to face I’d rip you a new one.” Sue went on to explain in a low, firm tone that she was indeed a very knowledgeable, intelligent woman and she could bloody well tell the difference between five mg. and 15 BLOODY MILLIGRAMS! And NO she was not overmedicating her child. I believe Sue suggested that, perhaps, a mistake had been made and might he check his records while he still had use of both his arms. Yep, that was steam alright. [She really didn’t make that crack about his arms, I just couldn’t resist.]

The now stuttering pharmacist admitted the prescription had not been filled properly and that only half the amount had been issued. That’s why they seemed to be running out so quickly. Yes, she could pick up the additional amount anytime. Please! All was settled and Luciano and I got up off the floor.

To this day when I hear the phrase “my good man” I crawl under a desk. This has nothing to do with her birthday, it just explains why I’m afraid of Sue.

Ditch Dickinson
Under a desk
Toronto, ON


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