I apologize for my recent lack of musical theater postings, but it's been a very difficult week. Oliver, my beloved cocker spaniel, came down with a blood disease called immune-mediated thrombocytopenia, a condition in which his immune system began to attack his platelets, making clotting difficult. His gums started to bleed, and the next thing I knew he was admitted into the critical care unit at Angell Memorial, the best animal hospital in the country, and one of the best in the world.
Fortunately, I happen to live right across the street from Angell, in a section of Boston known as Jamaica Plain. I recall a while back while I was walking Oliver around the grounds of Angell and chatting up this woman who was walking her yellow lab. The woman had an accent, and I asked her where she was from. Turns out it was Bermuda. Did she relocate from that sunny island? No, she commutes up every two weeks to get chemotherapy for her dog. That's how good Angell is.
This week has been a wild ride both in terms of treatment options and emotional extremes. As you can tell by the prominence I give Oliver's picture on this site, I am inordinately fond of my dog, almost preternaturally so. You know how some people in really tough times clam up, lie in bed, and refuse all calls? I'm not one of those people. When I'm in a crisis, I grab the phone and pour my heart out to any and all who have the time and patience to listen. It's a mess, but fortunately I have wonderful friends who can withstand the slobbering.
As for the title of this post, Oliver got his name from the story of my less-than-immaculate conception. I was conceived the night that my parents saw the musical Oliver! on Broadway. (How are they sure of the exact night? They're Catholic. 'Nuff said.) More important, why did they feel the need to share this information with me? I can't recall the context in which it first arose. All I know is that I know, as do most of my nearest and dearest. When my friend Richard Carey saw Love! Valour! Compassion! on Broadway, he called me up immediately after the show and said "Chris, Terrence McNally stole your birth story!" In the play, the character Buzz tells the audience that he was conceived the night his parents saw Wildcat on Broadway. Close enough to be actionable, but I'm not the litigious sort.
Well, after eight long days and seven difficult nights, my boy is back home with me. He's a little weary for the wear, and they had to shave the middle of each of his four legs to accommodate all the needles for the transfusions and whatnot, which makes him look a bit too much like a poodle for my tastes. But he's my boy, and he's home, and I'd take him bald and painted Day-Glo orange if I had to. Please send your thoughts, prayers, vibrations, emanations, or whatever cosmic energy you ascribe to in Oliver's general direction to expedite a speedy recovery for my beloved boy.
And we'll send the same out to you.