Scott agreed to meet with me at the campus café after work on Thursday the 25th of February. I arrived early to set up at a square table in a quiet corner of the dining hall. My nerves started kicking up again as I looked over my notes and the list of questions. I had written them in shorthand so they would be more of a jumping point that I could improvise. A few of them included:
I knew Scott had skin cancer when I first met him a few years ago but he was on the remission side of it. I wondered if he would think I was rude if I tried asking him to tell me about it for the profile.
I had fifteen minutes to go and my hands were shaking. I pulled out a napkin from the dispenser and wrote myself a note that said “You Can Do This!! Breathe!” while humming Masquerade from The Phantom of the Opera in an attempt to keep calm. When it was done, I propped the napkin against the dispenser so when he sat across from me, he wouldn’t be able to see it.
(This is Scott and I during one of the turns)
I saw his big blue coat and the husker ski cap he wore over his shaved head first. It’s just Scott. No reason to worry. I told myself when he walked through the glass doors and I smiled. He ambled over to the table and took the seat next to me instead of the one across. I scrabbled to move my note and just barely got it out of sight before he could see. That would have been so embarrassing that I probably would have left.
We made small talk at first and I relaxed a little. This was the Scott I knew, the guy who cooked hot dogs with C4 when he was in the Army and rocked out at metal concerts.
I puttered around for questions and he politely waited for me. His honeymoon was spent in Vegas, where a woman won the progressive on the machine his wife had made him get off twenty minutes before.
“I didn’t talk to her the rest of the trip,” he told me as he leaned over to rub his calf. It was bothering him today.
“The doctors don’t warn you about the bumps and bruises,” he said shaking his head. If it wasn’t his leg, it was his thigh, or possibly his junk. “When that happens, the hell I’m coming into work. I don’t get paid enough for that. I’ll be at home playing some video games with a bag of peas,”
I asked him how that was going. I figured he brought it up, so he couldn’t be upset that I asked. He reminded me of the surgery they did back in 2013 to remove some of his lymph nodes. Well, the melanoma got in his blood stream but never showed up on any of the blood tests until last fall when he was doubled over in pain and they took him in.
“The doctor just came in and was like, ‘well, there is a mass on your pancreas, so you are going to die in about a year,’ and I’m sitting there staring at him then go, ‘how come every time I come in here you always give me such great news?’”
It took a second to take in what he was saying. Scott might not be here much longer. I swallowed down the tears because I didn’t think he would want me to cry all over him. But I was seconds from doing it. He told me he wants to hang on for his family but that personally he would be ready if it was his time.
We finished up the interview and I walked around the table to thank him.
“You look like you’re about to go to a sock hop, dear,” he said smiling when he saw my skirt and converse paired together. I hugged him goodbye and watched him whistle out the door. As I packed up my things I realized I didn’t really need the interview to know Scott.
Come hell or high water that man will whistle, laugh, grumble and rock his way through it it.