Daddy Had Surgery (and You Won't Believe What He Said)

When the pharmaceuticals are flowing, you want only your closest loved ones around.

Valerie Fraser Luesse
1950s nurse taking pulse of patient
Three Lions/Getty Images

Southerners are talkers—creative talkers. That’s why we’re particularly dangerous after a major medical procedure. Combine our gift of gab, our flair for the colorful turn of phrase, and heavy drugs, and you’ve got a volatile conversation cocktail that the preacher had best not hear. At any given moment, we might confess to spiking the fellowship punch (whether we actually did it or not) and offer an unsolicited critique of the reverend’s last sermon. We might recommend a Texas Chainsaw Massacre theme for the kids’ Trunk Or Treat festival or lobby to put Barbie on the hostess committee. There’s just something about serious pain medication that unleashes the following:

(1) Every word Mama taught us never to say
(Put two quarters in the swear jar, little mister!)

(2) Every mischievous thought that ever passed through our brains
(I think I’ll tell Aunt Bertie that she’s going a little heavy on the Shalimar and might need to rethink that hairdo.)

(3) An odd mashup of what’s actually happening around us and the bizarre things we’ve seen in our weirdest dreams.
(Did y’all see that leprechaun come in here last night? It fluffed my pillow and checked my blood pressure, bless its heart. But then it had to leave to catch the team bus with Coach Saban.)

On the upside, “sickness in the family,” as Southerners say, brings us together. We congregate in waiting rooms, bringing each other coffee and snacks as we try to calm our collective nerves. And when the worst is over, and our loved one is peacefully resting on a painless cloud of advanced meds, we give thanks. Then we write down everything they say so that we can tease them about it later.

What are your favorites from your family? Here are some winners from Daddy:

I wasn’t supposed to tell that? Oh, well. I guess I let the cracker out of the barrel.

Anytime I wake up from something like this, you’re leaning over me. I appreciate that.

This is better than a vacation. A nice place to stay and all the family around. [ZZZzzzz]

Did y’all see a cartel come in here late last night? They were all wearing yellow britches.

I’ve just been to Ireland.

You need to get your hands insured since you make your living writing. Seriously. Maybe you could get individual fingers insured separately.

People think those iPhones know everything, but that’s not true. I’ll bet the stuff that’s on there is just stuff people like you figured out and told that phone.

That’s a pretty picture on the wall. I don’t care who wrote it.

Your mother likes Ireland. I’ve seen a few Irish things—like that Alice [sic] of Green Gables.

Nobody knows about stuff. And there’s so much stuff out there.