In mathematical theory, when an office cubicle undergoes a proportional increase in size; transmutes by relocating its square self to a sick bay; hangs a curtain; and appends, on the other side of the curtain, its mirror image; this is referred to as Doubling the Cube.
But Doubling the Cube has been recognized as an ancient geometric problem with no solution. The ramifications of which are made crystal clear when happenstance lands me the role of personal assistant to my inpatient, ailing husband at Cube-Central — a New York metropolitan hospital on the upper east side.
We are in Cube 1 of a semi-private room. We converse in whispers and use AirPods. 81 year old Herbie is in Cube 2, blasting FOX NEWS nonstop on his wall-mounted TV, growling and sputtering indistinctly, as loudly as he can, given the impediment of a nonoperational, floppy tongue.
It is bad. But it is worse when the screaming banshee, wife of Herbie, swoops down from the ceiling tiles and descends into Cube 2.
Shape-shifting into a barking seal, Wife begins rapidly slapping her hands near the side of Herbie’s head. “Herbie! Herbie!” she shouts. She snaps her fingers. “Wake up! Eat something!”
In garbled, slackened-tongue speech, further interfered with by a nose cannula, he reveals to her, laboriously, that he had gagged on his food earlier and thrown up.
“You didn’t throw up! It was all a dream!” she says.
The nurse is in Cube 1. She whispers to us, He really did gag. He really did throw up.
Pacing, hyperactive, bored, Wife makes a call on her cell. Her big fat mouth is set to bragging mode.
“My daughter is an art therapist. She works at a school in Burlington, Vermont. I’m worried terrorists from Canada are going to cross the border and kill her. Because that’s where crazy Bernie Sanders lives! We sent her to one of those liberal arts colleges where all the socialists go who love Bernie Sanders! And she didn’t turn out like that!” She changes the subject. “Did you know I have four 12 million dollar properties on the market?”
Wife ends the call and walks over to the un-curtained end of Cube 2. Backlit by the window, she pushes her sunglasses up above her forehead and strikes a pose in the space, violating our boundaries and staring into our Cube. We are holding our phones in front of our faces. I take her picture.
The scene from the movie Fatal Attraction comes to mind. When the Glenn Close character says to the Michael Douglas character: I won’t be ignored, Dan!
Wife remains where she is and twists her neck to look up at FOX News on the TV. She resumes the-slapping-of-the-hands exercise punctuated by snapping fingers. A regular one-man band.
“Herbie!” she shrieks. “The Donald is on! The Donald is on! Your most favorite person!” She turns back to the TV. “And there’s that bastard! That son of a bitch, Joe Biden!”
“AH MVOB DAHHNA TUMP!” says Herbie.
“We love Donald Trump! He’s your favorite person in the world, right, Herbie?”
“AH MVOB DAHHNA TUMP!” says Herbie.
In a total non-sequitur, Wife says, abandoning the gap in the curtain and returning to his bedside, “Herbie,” we got a notice from the building saying it was now a non-smoking building.” She claps her hands near his head. “I may have to quit smoking! You will have to smoke your cigars outside!”
She continues. “It’s so nice out today, I think I will walk home across Central Park,” an obvious ploy by Wife to namedrop her tony address.
Herbie audibly shuffles around in his bedding. He loses control of the remote, which drops to the floor. “BEH-EEE SUHNAS! BEH-HEE SUHNAS!” he harrumphs, loudly.
“Stop talking about that son of a bitch. Bernie Sanders is dead. I told you! STOP TALKING TO DEAD PEOPLE!!”
Soon after, a nurse appears with headphones after yet another complaint is registered by Cube 1. Herbie wears the headphones for a few minutes and tears them off. Then he raises the volume on FOX NEWS.
This loathsome behavior continues for two days straight.
In the Interest of All’s Well That Ends Well:
HIs last night in Cube-Central, my husband is moved to another floor, a change set in motion by the visiting cardiologist. During rounds, he witnessed first hand the full-tilt insane behavior of the ranting screaming banshee and harrumphing Herbie.
Husband is released from hospital the next afternoon. Prognosis: GOOD.
When I return home, I google Herbie (I memorized his last name). With glee, I learn just what kind of low life, revolting individuals he and his wife are. What a surprise! Click the link. It made my day.