“Soupster, you can’t practice medicine in this state,” said Linda, scratching furiously at the bug bite on the outside of her right calf.
“But I’ve only had one glass of wine,” protested the Soupster.
“I mean in Alaska!” Linda said.
The Soupster brought over a cold pack from his freezer, an elastic bandage and a tube of antibacterial ointment. “I want you to stop scratching that,” he said. “It’s starting to bleed.”
“Bleeding is good,” said Linda. “It’s a different kind of pain than itching, which drives me absolutely crazy.”
“Counter-irritation,” said the Soupster. “You’re absolutely right. Takes your mind off the thing that’s driving you crazy, by replacing it with something that may hurt just as much, but doesn’t drive you quite as crazy.”
“Huh?” said Linda.
The Soupster didn’t answer her, but bent to his work. He carefully daubed off Linda’s bite and, as he applied the antibacterial ointment, asked, “What are the fashion rules for Our Town anyway?”
“Huh?” she repeated.
“Like okay, is there a time when you cannot wear Xtra Tuf boots?”
“That’s a good question, Soupster,” Linda admitted. “Nothing comes to mind. I’ve seen Xtra Tufs at weddings and funerals.”
The Soupster put the cold pack against Linda’s leg. “That feels cold, but good,” she said.
“Any other fashion rules?” said the Soupster, continuing his work
“Well, you should never ever buy anything that would be ruined if it got wet,” said Linda.
“Funny you should bring that up,” said Linda. “My favorite pair of shoes started out as suede and now that they’re mushed down they seem even more comfortable.”
The Soupster murmured his assent as he wrapped the elastic bandage around Linda’s calf to hold the cold pack in place.
“I don’t think there’s ever a reason to wear really high heels in Our Town – I mean except for a lark,” mused Linda. “I think men could go their whole lives in Our Town and never have to wear a tuxedo.” She looked at her caregiver’s well-worn shirt. “Soupster, do you own even one suit?”
The Soupster put a white sock over Linda’s foot and stretched it carefully up over the bandage. He stood up to survey his neat work.
“Have you ever even worn a tuxedo, Soupster?” said Linda, an edge to her voice. “Are you even listening to me?”
“I got it,” the Soupster insisted, “Never wear high-heeled Xtra Tufs with a tuxedo in Our Town. Counter-irritation. How does your leg feel now?”
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