Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Revenge of the Ficus (or How I Ruined My Date With Doug Simpson)


I wish I had a better story, like getting savaged by a hate-fueled mob that I outran and then double-backed upon, tricking them into an elaborate trap that pummeled them to a reasonable extent but also opened their hearts to love.

Instead, I don’t even have a story. I have a shrug and a confused grunt and a motion toward the wound on my face.

I had finished work and popped a Colby sandwich into the toaster oven when I remembered to roll my garbage cans out to the curb. The green waste container was full of the chopped branches of some overgrown focus trees that I’ve been slaying one by one, garbage can space permitting, and this week I’d stuffed so many ficus parts into it that I couldn’t close the lid. Sharp ficus limbs jutted out at odd angles.

If you’re a fan of the Final Destination movies, you know where this is going.

Somehow, the green waste container got stuck. I pushed. I apparently succeeded only in kicking the bottom of the container forward and making the top fall back toward me. I pitched forward, toward the branches, and one of the sharper ones sliced through my nose, starting at the bridge and carving a deep line all the way over to my cheek. Of course, I didn’t know this at first. I only thought I cracked my nose against something hard. I saw stars, and then I saw Dario Argento spurts of blood coming out.

I also thought about the cheese sandwich I wasn’t going to get to eat.


The last time my backyard seriously injured me, I limped inside and rode out the pain with ice packs and The Golden Girls. I tried that again — it was the one where Blanche’s daughter gives birth — just with wads of paper towels instead of ice, and while the blood eventually did stop gushing, it never stopped altogether. It still hurt. When I felt calm enough, I went to the bathroom mirror, removed the paper towels and inspected the wreckage. Above the nostril and below the cut, my nose-meat was just hanging there, detached from the rest of the nose.

So here’s a question: Who do you call when you’re single and your parents live hours away from you and your roommate is gone and none of your friends live in your neighborhood and your actual neighbors are all already asleep anyway?

It’s a scary thought to entertain, that you are confronted with an emergency and that you don’t have anyone obvious that you can ask for help, even though you live in Los Angeles and frequently can’t navigate anywhere without having to gingerly dart around scores of people. In this case, I called my ex, simply because he and I dated long enough that we’d endured some minor crises and he knows how to talk me down when I’m panicking. When I panic, I get stupid. “I am not sure what I’m supposed to do,” I can remember telling him, even though I should have been able to figure out that I needed to go to the hospital. Where else would you go when you stab yourself in the face? I had the blood crazies, I guess. I needed a voice of reason.

Eventually, the closest E.R. was located and I headed outside, leaving behind a literal bloody mess and a cooling toasted cheese sandwich. When the driver pulled up, he seemed reluctant to allow me into his car. I cannot fault him for this: I was an agitated man wearing cutoffs, a tank top and dried blood. I would have also been suspicious of someone who looked like me. However, I proved to him that I had foresight and showed the yet-unused wad of clean paper towels in my left hand. "See?" I told him. “I have all these too so I'm good.” For some reason, that worked, and his Prius became an ambulance.


The actual hospital visit that followed was a non-event, with most of it spent sitting in a gurney. Three hours and a CAT scan later, I’d gained twelve stitches and the knowledge that I had a fractured nasal bone that would probably just heal on its own, though I do worry about an errant nose shard bouncing through my body, pinball-style.

Oh, and the girl who checked me in and out, who was beautiful both because of and in spite of neck tattoos, informed me that I had, in fact, done a number on myself. She also inferred that I might “still be cute.” Big TBD on that one.

I got to the all-night pharmacy a little after 3 a.m., and the pharmacist was on his lunch break, because night shift workers need to eat too, even though I think that meal needs a different name. (“Smunch”?) So I had to sit there and wait, because there’s not a goddamn other worthwhile thing to do at 3 a.m. when you’re low on blood, low on sleep and still covered what most bystanders would consider evidence of a struggle.

Do you know what you think about when you’re stranded in an empty pharmacy at 3 a.m. with literally not a thing to do? Weird fucking stuff — like how falling in a different direction could have sent that branch through an eye or an artery. You wonder if you maybe won’t have to contend with the next emergency on your own. You wonder who in the hospital was humming “Teddy Bears’ Picnic” while you were waiting for your CAT scan results.

But really — who hums that in a dark, empty hospital?


I’m fine. My face still works, though now I have to contend with what the attending physician called “one mean laceration.” If it ends up scarring, I hope I look at least butch and not just tragic. When I finally got home, I sat there staring at it for a good twenty minutes. Then I ate that cold cheese sandwich.

I sneeze blood now. I’ve been wondering when and if that will go away.

I wonder how long it will be before I feel comfortable going out in public. Some guy in the doctor’s waiting room did a corny sitcom-style double take in my direction, and I kind of wanted to get in his face and pull out the stitches one by one, just so he’d really have something awful to see.

I wonder if I should have put that in writing. It’s unclear. I’m probably doing this more for me than for anyone else.

In closing, I should point out that I should have been more specific when I wished that I were more like Tina Fey. Damn genie.

No comments:

Post a Comment