Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

Rumors of My Death Have Been Totally Exaggerated

Jackie K. Cooper


Rumors have a way of taking on a life of their own. This was proven to me recently by some "rumors" I heard about one of my best friends. There are four or five of us who meet and eat lunch two or three times a week. There is no pre-arranged schedule and we just show up whenever we can. Last week I dropped by on Friday.

When I got to "our table" none of my friends were there. I asked our regular waitress if any of them had been in earlier. She said they hadn't, but then she added, "But it is true the Judge had bypass surgery."

I almost choked. This is a guy whom I have known for years. My wife and I get together periodically with him and his wife to eat dinner and play catch up. This is also a man who is compulsively private. You don't get anything personal out of him unless you pry it out. He has been known to have medical tests run without me or his wife being aware of it. So was it possible he had had bypass surgery without me knowing it? Oh yes.

I questioned the waitress a couple of more times about it and she assured me that was the information they had gotten. I also talked with the Assistant Manager of the restaurant who confirmed he had had three bypasses. She even told me who had told her and others the details.

As soon as I left the restaurant and got into my car where my cell phone was, I started making calls. I called the judge's house and got an answering machine. I left a message for his wife to call me and give me details about his surgery. Then I called the court where his office is. I left another frantic message there.

A few minutes later his secretary called and asked me what in the world I was talking about. She said the Judge was in St. Augustine, Florida at a conference. She then added that a lawyer in town had had some bypasses and that must have been where the mixup occurred. Relieved by the news, I realized I had to call back to his house. I could just imagine what his wife would think when she heard my message. She still wasn't home so I left a second message telling her to ignore the first.

Later that night I did get her on the phone. She actually asked me if I thought the judge had told her he was going to St. Augustine but was in the hospital. I told her when he called that night to ask him to describe his day. She said she was going to get him to describe his room. I said to ask what kind of paintings were on the wall. She said she was going to ask if there were any crosses.

The next morning the judge called me on his way back from St. Augustine. He had talked to his wife and thought the whole thing was hilarious. I told him that had it been true he wouldn't have had to worry about dying because I would have killed him for not letting me know. Then I added that embarrassingly enough the first thought that had crossed my mind was how long does it take to get over bypass surgery? He and I are supposed to go to Biloxi in April and I didn't want to miss the trip.

His comment back to me was that he couldn't wait to go to lunch next week and amaze the people with how well he had recovered and so quickly. He has a sense of the dramatic about him and I am sure he will play it all up to a fare thee well.

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Jackie K. Cooper was born in South Carolina and now lives in Georgia. His short stories have been used as commentary on Georgia Public Radio. He also keeps active appearing as an after dinner speaker for various events. Cooper has four books: Journey of a Gentle Southern Man, Chances and Choices, Halfway Home, and The Bookbinder.

Visit his website, or email Jackie.

© Jackie K. Cooper

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012