Prairie Memories by Gary Heintz: Once Upon a Time… | TSLN.com

Prairie Memories by Gary Heintz: Once Upon a Time…

Prairie Memories

Once Upon a Time…

By Gary Heintz

Listening to my Dad and his siblings tell stories was the highlight of my summers when I was growing up in Harrold. There were seldom any new stories, but the old ones seemed to get more detailed and more colorful with each passing year. I found myself silently repeating those stories, practicing my delivery, trying to improve on the ‘color’ with each recitation.

Storytelling throughout history has been a main source of entertainment, in homes, at work and school, wherever you were with a group of people that had time to kill. Trying to best your friends with a better story usually led to stretching the truth, adding facts that made the story more exciting and memorable. Tall tales, like Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill, are classics. Now, I’m not saying that I have ever done that on purpose in my stories, but I am giving you fair warning that this one has been stretched to the breaking point, both in facts and my wife’s tolerance. In fact, it probably should be classified as a tall tale.

My foot had been bothering me for quite some time, and after several unsuccessful attempts to find a cure, I went to a specialist in Rapid City. Patti rode along, and was trying to decide whether to visit a quilt shop while I was at my doctor appointment or to accompany me to the clinic. She was forever grateful she decided to go with me.

The nurse positioned me on the exam table and invited Patti to sit down while we awaited the arrival of the doctor. Patti always has a book with her and if she isn’t engaged in conversation she is reading. Except for that day. There was a knock on the door and this Greek God in a doctor’s coat came in. Tall, tanned and chiseled, he began his examination of my foot while I thought to myself, “Wow, what a good-looking man!” I happened to glance over at Patti. She wasn’t reading. I’m not sure she was breathing. Her eyes were glued to the doctor’s tanned face. As he visited with me about my foot, he noticed Patti’s unwavering attention, and without skipping a beat, he moved the waste basket in front of Patti so she wouldn’t drool on the floor. He was unaffected by her adoration, apparently used to female attention. As we left the office, Patti was still swooning over the young doctor, telling me over and over again how good looking he was. I tried to ignore her, my self-image dented by her doctor worship. I stopped at the desk to pay the bill, and as I turned around to leave, I saw Patti talking to an elderly lady in a wheelchair, pleading with her to run the wheelchair over her foot so she could go back in and see the doctor! I finally herded her out the door and into the car, being careful to lock the doors so she couldn’t escape, and kept the car keys hidden for several days to be sure she didn’t go back to Rapid City.

Now, admittedly, I embellished this story, but the basis of it actually happened. For the reader or listener of this kind of tale, deciding how much, or how little of it is factual and how much is ‘color’ is part of the enjoyment. Patti, by the way, thinks I have added all the color I am going to and still have a home where my key fits the lock.