Randy Weeks

Published on January 18th, 2023 | by Randy Weeks


The View From The Balcony: “My Left Knee”

Over the holidays I became a bionic man. My brilliant and skilled doctor replaced my left knee with titanium. He called it “resurfacing.” In 1969 my father had actual total knee replacement. A doctor sawed out his birth knee and cemented an artificial one in its place. Daddy spent two months in the hospital doing rehab. Nowadays they roll you in, insert some custom-made titanium, and shuttle you home. By afternoon you’re hobbling around on a walker and tripping on painkillers, thanks be to g_d.
The next day your own personal dungeon master, i.e., physical therapist, shows up with a bag of tricks for you to perform. After each set of agonizing antics you’ll get a pat on the head and a “Good boy!” Eventually, though, what they’ve been telling you does start to happen. Keep doing your rehab and things will get better—slowly—V-E-R-Y, V-E-R-Y S-L-O-W-L-Y.

During my down time I watched way too much TV, but I learned a few things. For instance, once they started shooting Gunsmoke in color, U.S. Marshall Matt Dillon (James Arness) always wore a salmon-colored shirt and light khaki Levis. This evidently saved on costuming and made it easier to use stock footage from episode to episode. They pretty much did the same thing with Bonanza. The main characters (Ben, Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe) had a kind of “superhero uniform” for an entire season, with rare exceptions for festive occasions during which the Cartwrights typically wore white shirts and black string ties.

James Arness as U.S. Marshall Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke.

Many of the 1950–60s Westerns took on social and moral issues. The main characters were almost always open-minded and championed the rights of the oppressed, not only on TV, but also in “real life.” In the early 1960s the Cartwrights of Bonanza were set to perform at the Dixie National Rodeo in Jackson, but pulled out because the rodeo was, at the time, segregated. I was sad because I wanted to see some of my cowboy heroes. A few years after the Bonanza standoff, Ken Curtis, “Festus” on Gunsmoke, entertained at the rodeo. I bought a souvenir bullwhip and had him autograph the handle. I still have that whip, though I’ve not much use for it anymore.

I also noticed that the television stations that show old Westerns also show a lot of pharmaceutical ads. They know their demographics. Most of the pills and creams are remedies for memory loss or joint pain, laxatives, or Medicare supplement plans—old people stuff. I guess I must like a lot of the same shows old people like.

Don’t you love how those ads show people in various states of ecstasy, while the voice-over is a gargantuan list of cautions, one of which is, “Don’t take this drug if you’re allergic to it. (Duh!) There are possible side effects, one of which is that you might croak.” Nobody ever croaks in one of those commercials. But if you do happen to croak after taking their drug, they told you you might croak but you took it anyway, so now you can’t “One call, that’s all” them because they warned you.

By the time you read this I should be back on the streets. The staples came out of my knee over a week ago, and a return from a walker to my trusty cane is on the horizon. I plan on saving the staples, for what future use I do not yet know. I may sell my life-time collection of knee braces, ankle braces, wrist braces, ice packs, heating pads, and any and all other remaining medical equipment at Double Decker 2023. Maybe I can make necklaces with my knee staples as a pendant.

More important than any new thing I learned was being reminded of this: I am of all men most blessed with friends who are there for me when I am in need. I have been checked on, had food brought to me, errands run for me…you name it. My friends were and continue to be there for me. A friend in need is a friend, indeed, right? Well, that goes double for Balcony Dwellers (Balconeros). I can think of no greater blessing. So, with the deepest gratitude and humility, I say to my chosen family, “Thank you. Let’s lift our glasses high!”

…and that’s the view from The Balcony.

Randy Weeks is a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Certified Shamanic Life Coach, an ordained minister, a singer-songwriter, and an actor. He is well on the way to eliminating his external limp. Watch for him on the Whirlpool trails in the Spring. Randy may be reached at randallsweeks@gmail.com.

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About the Author

Randy Weeks is a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Certified Shamanic Life Coach, an ordained minister, a singer-songwriter, and an actor, who lives in Oxford, Mississippi. He may be reached at randallsweeks@gmail.com.

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