Talking Weather

He sits beside me on the bench beneath a clear sky outside the doctor’s office. My wife is having a routine checkup.

The guy and I are spaced apart. He wears a mask. I wear a mask. Occasionally he lowers his mask to take a draw from a vaping pen before exhaling a cloud that smells like Chanel No. 5.

He is bone thin. He is late-50s. His skin is all freckles. His ratty ballcap reads, “Presbyterianism: Est. 33 A.D.”

He inhales. Holds. Exhales. Then speaks. “S’posed to be nasty weather tomorrow.”

And already I know where this conversation is going.

Floridians have been cussing the weather since our ancestors first crawled from their prehistoric caves to get their real estate licenses.

The weather is an easy subject in the Alligator State because it’s common ground. Everyone experiences weather. Everyone gets sick of weather. To discuss weather is a grand tradition. And like all traditions, there are obligatory phrases often exchanged between participants.

Such as: “Hot enough for ya?” “Supposed to come up a storm.” And the all-time classic: “We could shore use the rain.”

This is the stuff that makes us human.

The old man opens with an old standard: “S’posed to rain sideways this week.”

I play my role. “We could use the rain.”

Although technically we don’t need rain. Last week it rained like a son of a gun; my yard had two feet of standing water and became one with the Choctawhatchee.

The man uncrosses his legs. “You here to see the doc?”

“No, my wife’s seeing him. You?”

“Waiting on my wife to finish her checkup. Had my own appointment last week.” He thumps his chest. “Doc says I’m good to go.”


He sucks on his pen again and laughs. “Nice to be told I’m healthy for once. I’m used to hearing the opposite.”

I take the bait. “Really.”

He tugs his shirt collar downward to expose a mottled scar between his collarbone and neck. “S’where my picc line was. Almost died.”

I know all about picc lines and central catheters. My mother bears a similar scar. I remember the day the Emory University angels gave her that scar.

He says, “Did me a lotta praying when I was sick. Lotta hard praying.”

I smile because I realize we’ve abandoned weather, now we’re getting into philosophy. But we’re on uneven territory. For starters, I don’t speak Presbyterian. I’ve never even visited a Presybyterian church.

The only experience I have with the Chosen is my friend, Jackson, who was a lifelong member. He said Presbyterians were just Baptists who wanted to drink but couldn’t afford to become Episcopalian.

I point to his cap. “You’re Presbyterian?”

“I am.”

More silence. More weather watching.

A woman exits the building. She has gray hair and a smile. We are jolted out of our silence when she says, “Lonnie, I need the insurance card.”

Lonnie smiles. He stands, reaches into a back pocket and removes a wallet roughly the size of a Plymouth. I don’t know how his left cheek isn’t deformed by sitting on that thing.

He fumbles through a billfold and hands her a card. She thanks him, and before returning inside she shares good news. “Lonnie, the doctor said I’m all clear.”

The woman says it the same way you might say, “I just won the Powerball.” A surefire sign that she is yet another individual who has had dealings with the C-word.

She disappears and I can feel the Presbyterian eager to keep our conversational bowling ball rolling.

“She just had a biopsy. Scared the living you-know-what out of us. She already beat breast cancer once.” He shakes his head and consults his vape pen. “What. A. Year.”

My thoughts wander toward the breast-cancer scares my wife and I have gone through. I know what it feels like to be subjected to the horrors of Medical Care.

The waiting is what kills you. Nobody tells you that the fear never completely leaves you. Not even when you get the green light from the medical establishment. Once your security bubble is popped, you are always on your guard thereafter.

Which is both a good thing and a bad thing. Good: because it makes you appreciate life. Bad: because trying too hard to appreciate something is not very relaxing.

“What a year,” I say.

He blows a lungful of Chanel. “You can say that again.”

After a few minutes, I see my own wife trotting outside the doctor’s. Her hair is bouncing, her steps are light. She looks cuter than a duck in a hat. Instantly, I can see the doc has proclaimed her to be in good health because she also wears the I-won-the-lotto-face. And I can breathe easily.

Also, I’m thinking about how grateful I am that Lonnie and I have both received good news today. Good news, I understand, is how Presbyterianism was founded.

I stand to leave. I tip my hat to the guy. “Stay outta this heat, now.” This is my way of wishing him well.

“Sure will,” he says, vapor coming from his nostrils. “S’posed to come up a storm tomorrow.”

My wife hooks her arm in mine and there is not a stitch of trouble on her magnificent cheeks. “We could shore use the rain,” she says.


  1. Leigh Amiot - April 15, 2021 8:58 am

    “My annual scare”—a friend’s version of a mammogram
    Really good news for all, so glad to hear it.
    Thunderstorms due today in southern Georgia, and we shore can use the rain.

  2. elizabethroosje - April 15, 2021 10:01 am

    One of the many things I love about your writing Sean is that you can capture what you see. That and you seem to see in stories. I really appreciate your writing. If I don’t see a new post from you, I’d worry. I don’t comment every day but every day I am readnig!

  3. Sandi. - April 15, 2021 10:20 am

    As I read this post I thought, “Sure do hope that Lonnie and his wife read this!”

  4. pdjpop - April 15, 2021 10:24 am

    Sean, my heart is good today. You have it a good start. When our wives battle those breast issues, we feel it too. We have been there, The treatments, surgery, five years of drugs, fear of return. 6 years cancer free. Hearing your good news lifted me knowing another couple avoids the torture. Funny, my wife continued to work. Missed 5 days of work total! Reconstruction, everything. When she had her port put in for chemo, she got off the table, walked into a board meeting and carried on like it was just another day. I was totally blown away.
    When your love ties you to your mate like that, you are truly one. It’s nice to have your burdens shared. Friends are great for that too but your mate is 24/7. Thank God for that. Presbyterian God or any other.
    Again. Thank you.

  5. Liz Watkins - April 15, 2021 12:10 pm

    Speaking of The Chosen…. watch it!! Season 1 is done! Season 2 has 3 episodes- it’s absolutely wonderful! The story of Jesus! It’s produced by Dallas Jenkins- amazing!

  6. Susan Parker - April 15, 2021 12:31 pm

    Congratulations to you and Jamie on her good report from the doctor! You all can rest easy. I just love your writing, Sean…I share it every day on my Facebook page!

  7. Christina - April 15, 2021 1:21 pm

    What a relief! Well, sending you and Jamie showers of blessing!

  8. michellemcteerallen - April 15, 2021 1:24 pm

    I love your writing so much. It’s always excellent. But that tiny phrase today hit all the emotions at once – “She looks cuter than a duck in a hat.” Just perfect. Somehow it encapsulates all the tender feelings of men for their wives – from newlyweds all the way through. Wonderful!

  9. Paul Moore - April 15, 2021 2:33 pm

    He was late 50s. You called him old ? He was vaping in a doctors office ? We’re you in a hurry to write this one ? Com on

  10. Jan - April 15, 2021 3:04 pm

    So glad for the good report for Jamie and you and for the other couple as well. Something to celebrate! Thanks for sharing the good news. Wishing many blessings to all!

  11. VCA - April 15, 2021 5:12 pm

    Love the weather conversation- always wondered when I was younger why my grandma wrote so much about the weather in her letters when as a ‘city girl’ I never gave it
    much thought – unless it meant having to play indoors. But I realized as I aged that as a farm wife , my grandmas whole existence depended in large part to what kind of weather they were dealing with & how it could affect a whole year of planting & harvesting. All depends on what you’re dealing with – livelihood or small talk.

  12. Connie - April 15, 2021 5:14 pm

    So happy for the good reports! Cancer is the scariest thing imaginable. I’ve had that scare and have the scar to prove it, and I’m thankful every day my news was good too. But that fear never quite leaves you once you’ve been there. Much love and hugs to you and Jamie.

  13. Linda Moon - April 15, 2021 5:56 pm

    So the guy exhaled an airborne cloud of Chanel-smells that just might contain airborne droplets of a bad C-word?? That’s not right. But, I’m glad to hear about the women who are clear of another dreaded C-word. Breast cancer IS scary, Sean and Jamie. Most of us survivors find it easy to appreciate LIFE. Jamie, you are not only cute…you are KIND, just like the One who is the Founder of our Faith. I love you, Girl!!

  14. MAM - April 15, 2021 6:48 pm

    I’m “shore” glad Jamie and Lonnie’s wife got good news! And out in New Mexico, we for “shore” need the rain, but we’ll have to wait until July. It’s fire season now, which also produces smoke and allergies, not to mention the juniper pollen flying. Windy, dry season is not my favorite, the the rest of the year is pretty grand!

  15. Kte - April 16, 2021 12:18 pm

    He said Presbyterians were just Baptists who wanted to drink but couldn’t afford to become Episcopalian. Love this line, I have been through Cancer twice and just got a maybe scary test result. The fear seems to always be one test result away. So happy for you and Jamie that your news was good.


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