Toby Medicine

I had to go into the city to see a play—a two-and-a-half hourlong commute each way for a sixty minute event—Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales, at the Irish Rep. It was noonish, and I put my coat and scarf and bag on, and then Toby said to me, “Oh, wait, take your dinner.” He reached into the refrigerator and pulled out a plastic bag. I was shocked: He’d made me dinner, in the morning, probably when I was asleep.

He said to leave it in the car during the play, and then eat it on the way home. Then he said he’d walk into town later (he didn’t have his car, so I was taking the only vehicle, and the walk is three-and-a-half miles), and maybe I could pick him up on the way back, at the Whiskey Wind, the local’s bar.

I got into the car and looked in the bag and there was:

1. A steak sandwich with horseradish.
2. A container of roasted vegetables.
3. An apple.
4. A tangerine.
5. A quarter of one of those large dark chocolate bars.

I mean, rhonestly: How amazing is that? How amazing is my friend Toby?

The other night I was driving home from the city, arriving home to an empty house in the pitch dark, which I really, really hate. When I say “dark,” I mean dark dark—only a lot of stars in the night sky. Toby had left that day, or the day before (I’d stayed in the city), and when I pulled into the driveway, all I could see in my headlights was my landlord’s house (once a Coast Guard barracks) with the shades pulled down all around like death, or major rejection—like eyes blotted out. And then I spotted something glinting on the two steps that lead to the path to my place. It was my Mag Lite, standing like a sentry where I would have no choice but spot it. Toby had left it for me.

I don’t have to keep Toby to myself. He can take care of you too, and now I don’t have to tell you that he’s really, really good at it.

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