The DSL Guy
He came to my apartment to check the DSL connection. Something was wrong—it
took an hour to Google a simple recipe for chicken soup. I had a sore throat,
was sneezing a lot, and felt tired.
I have a bad cold, I said. My apartment was cluttered—a holding tank
things that had no use. Christmas cards up from three years ago.
Frost barked once. It was an embarrassing woof that sounded like
the word woof. Then he rolled over and showed the DSL man his
stomach and privates. The DSL guy put his hand down for Frost to sniff,
and said, Are you
the man of the house?
Of course he had to enter my apartment (it was his job). He shuffled his
feet and rattled the countless wires in his carrying box.
Everyones sick, he said.
I was getting ready to move in a few weeks so I didnt really care
about the DSL situation long term. Being an only child had at one time
a burden—but now that my parents were gone the world was my oyster.
At least thats
what my therapist said. Thats how to look at it. She used
I need it to work now because Im making arrangements to move, I told
It was also because my fiance Russell liked to e-mail regularly to tell
me all the tiny details about his new illness, but I didnt say that.
himself on the Web, and found out exactly what he had. Its called
Syndrome. Sometimes his fingers turned blue.
The tea kettle howled in the kitchen. It sounded like a fire alarm. I ran
to stop it.
Wheres your system? he asked.
For a second, I didnt know what he meant.
He inched into my much-too-warm apartment. I pointed.
I watched the sturdy legs of the DSL man walk over to my workstation in
the kitchen nook. He investigated the wires behind the desk carefully,
This will be easy, he said. He looked like he was approaching middle age.
I went to the bathroom and blew my nose. I brushed my hair and put on mascara.
I forced myself to look at my throat in the mirror and check for redness
because Russell wanted me to list all my symptoms and e-mail them. Three
in Boston, so he was nearly finished with his patient load. He was a psychiatrist,
and sometimes I wondered. He seemed so nervous about illness—and
I hoped that didnt affect his patients negatively.
I listened to the doggy sound of my congested breathing, holding back sneezes
for a minute so I could hear the DSL guy.
Done! he said.
I burst out of the bathroom, hoping to get his business card before he
He was already in the foyer, his cell phone ringing. Yeah? he said.
He looked at me and put up one finger in a just-one-second gesture.
I sat on the floor next to Frost and watched him carefully. He didnt
seem to notice that my eyes were on him, moving from his lumpy Adams
apple to his waist.
Broad, but not overweight.
No, thats not OK, he said. He hung up and rolled his eyes.
He was not OK about something.
How about a cup of ginger tea? I asked.
Another time, he said, his eyes widening. He handed me his card, patted
Frost. We smiled at each other as he left. I breathed out, my congestion
I went over to the computer and checked e-mail. New from Russell:
Subject: Reynauds Syndrome symptoms
Subject: Prognosis and care
Subject: Where are you?
Return to Archive