W = Will, Willie, William or Wesley
Many years ago, I had a persistent problem with my right ear. It constantly had an infection. The doctors were stumped. That problem caused extreme dizziness. In order to diagnose the trouble, they put me through a round of very uncomfortable tests.
They put probes all over my head and face. They measured my dizziness. They ran hot and cold water through each ear. To keep me from passing out, they asked questions such as: Name as many flowers as you can, or name women’s names that start with a T.
After the first test, they determined I had a 30 percent balance reduction in my right ear. The doctors said it happens, and will go away with time. Unfortunately, I didn’t get better. They ordered the test again. This time, my mom came with me. She sat in the back and listened. She kept wondering why I had such difficulty naming flowers. To her mind, it was like an IQ test that I was failing miserably. She wanted to stand and scream, “Peonies, Rhonda! Peonies!”
They asked me to name men whose names begin with W. At the time, Walking Willie Otey was about to face the death penalty. Nebraska had not had a death row inmate put to death since Charles Starkweather in 1959. Understandably, Walking Willie Otey was all over the news. I easily answered, “Will, Willie and William.”
As my mom and I drove home, she expressed her frustration. I didn’t answer things as quickly as she expected. I told her, my ears were full of water. It’s hard not to pass out, let alone concentrate on certain types of flowers.
“Mom continued. “I suppose your own brother, Wesley, never crossed your mind.”