I was just about to begin a serious consultation with a jelly donut when my receptionist brought the news that Mrs. Frazzle was on the telephone. She sounded very upset. (So, what else is new?)
Mrs. Frazzle spends most of her time in a state of despair. Unfortunately for me, she is also in the state of Pennsylvania.
"I heard that you are going away on vacation for a whole week. What will I do if anything bad happens while you are gone? If little Jewel or Lord Fluffy got sick while you weren't here, I would just die! (That would solve one of my problems.) As usual, it took several minutes to bring her to the realization that I was not going to give her the phone number of the hotel where I would be staying.
You see, she and I have the same conversation every year. It takes place about a week before I head out to the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association winter meeting. This year, it was in Mexico.
(If by chance you are affiliated with the IRS or the Pennsylvania Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, please note that this was a serious business trip conducted for the purpose of continuing education. In fact, all government officials or appointees should immediately turn to page 10 or so.)
With a few thousand miles between Mrs. Frazzle and myself, I had the opportunity to pursue a few activities not readily available to me in Allentown, Pa.
Take whale-watching for example. A group of us booked a half-day excursion with that purpose in mind. It started out badly. The taxi that came to pick us up looked like that little car that all the clowns show up in at the circus. I didn't see how six normal-sized people were going to fit into the thing.
Keep in mind that my favorite mode of transportation at home is my GMC Yukon SUV. With an eight-foot snowplow at one end and a trailer hitch at the other, it weighs a svelte 3 tons. I think this little taxi easily would fit inside it.
Anyway, the 20-minute contortionist ride in the clown car was necessary in order to get to the port where we would board the whale-watching ship. Then, once I regained the ability to stand up straight, there was more bad news. Instead of a ship, we were going to harass the whales in something called an inflatable boat. It looked more like a pointy inner tube with an outboard motor on one end.
Within minutes, we had switched from "clown car" to "clown boat" and were heading out to sea.
Now, I had never been up close to a whale before. If you haven't either, let me point out that they are big. Bigger even than my Yukon.
When a Humpback rolls on its side, sticks one pectoral fin up in the air and then smacks the water, it is quite clear that fin is larger than a clown boat and a clown car put together.
I mentioned to the guy who was driving the pointy inner tube that I didn't think he should anger something that large. My message seemed to fall on deaf ears. Oh, and he didn't speak any English.
Apparently, he knew what he was doing, though, because no harm came to us (other than the return sardine ride in the micro-cab).
On the serious side, let me point out that the veterinarian who organizes the annual seminar always manages somehow to get the best, most interesting speakers for the five days of lectures. Nonetheless, by the third day of seminars, attendance often drops off. Other activities, such as playing golf or whale-watching in a pointy inner tube, often take precedence.
There was just one drawback to the trip, however. Even though fabulous food was available 24 hours a day, they did not serve jelly donuts. As many of you know, I spend much of my spare time in search of that elusive prey.
I got back to work the following Monday thinking that all good things must come to an end. I was wrong. When I opened my mail, I found that a colleague from Illinois had sent me a gift certificate for jelly donuts.
Life is good.
Dr. Obenski owns Allentown Clinic for Cats in Allentown, Pa.