A unique perspective on survival by comedian and stroke survivor, John Kawie.
On day 28 of my stroke I was standing at the Barbie-doll sized sink in my hospital room about to shave when I was taken aback by the image in the mirror. Frankly, I looked dreadful. The left side of my face drooped like melted candle wax, giving it a Salvador Dali creepiness. But what drove me crazy was my out-of-control hair. A dense, kinky shrub the shape of a catcher’s mitt appeared to have sprouted overnight. It screamed for its own “This Old House” landscaping segment. My curly hair has been an enigma since the British Invasion. In ’64 I attempted a Beatles haircut, but ended up looking like a giant Chia pet. While straight hair billows angelically in the breeze, a category 5 hurricane couldn’t disturb my thick, snarled nest.
Later, in ‘68, I found myself standing at the corner of counter culture and anti-establishment, so naturally I let it all hang out and grow out. I even ditched my razor. When I first came home from college, my dad opened the door, then called out to my mom, “Jenny, John the Baptist is here!”
Anyway, back to day 28. It’s visiting hours and I catch my wife giving me that same look. Finally Marilyn said, “Who’s that woman who cuts your hair? Is it Anna?” In no time we were on the phone with Anna asking if she made house calls. She answered in her soothing, sexy Eastern European accent, “For you, John, anything. Tomorrow is good?”
Simply put, Anna was hot… and I wasn’t the only one who noticed. Patients emerged from their rooms like Lazarus from the dead.
Tomorrow was perfect and I could hardly contain myself waiting for her arrival. While I was in the middle of neatening up my room (for the third time), I heard a commotion down near the nurse’s station, accompanied by the distinctive click of stiletto heels. I stuck my head out the door and there she was, strolling down the hall with her long flowing chestnut hair, willowy model figure, easy smile, and best of all, tight black leather slacks. She dazzled against the ghostly backdrop of the rehab floor.
Simply put, Anna was hot… and I wasn’t the only one who noticed. Suddenly heads were popping out of doorways. Patients emerged from their rooms like Lazarus from the dead. Guys who refused to go to PT somehow discovered how to walk again. Those in wheelchairs gave her a police escort complete with wheelies. When she greeted me with her sweet two-cheek kiss, you could hear a collective sigh throughout the hall.
Soon every man on the floor was headed to my room. Aides were arriving with Graham Crackers and apple juice. Nurses were tending to vitals, reading my chart, checking my temperature. My BP was taken so many times I was afraid it was going to cut off my circulation. Even doctors were coming in to fluff my pillows! Where were these guys when my finger went numb ringing the call button late at night? If I were dying, I wouldn’t have gotten this much attention. When my room started resembling the cabin scene in the Marx Brother’s “Night at the Opera,” I screamed, “OUT!” and the crashers reluctantly retreated, leaving just us two.
As she worked her magic we chatted and caught up. In no time the floor was covered with curls like someone had just sheared a sheep. When she finished I looked and felt like a human being again. But the best part was, for one hour, I wasn’t a stroke survivor… I was just a guy getting a haircut.