Saturday, June 30, 2012

All good deeds part 2

One week after the debacle of trying to register his bone marrow, SB was ready for another good deed.  As I was consigned to a pair of crutches due to an unfortunate incident involving a dragon boat street party, special rum punch and a low lying rope, SB decided to wash the dishes for me.  I was lying abed, contemplating the mysteries of the universe when I heard him curse.  SB cursing in the kitchen is a regular occurrence but this time the swearing seemed a bit more emphatic.  I hobbled over to him as quickly as possible to find him clutching his hand.  "What is it," I squeaked.  "I'm going to need stitches," he replied, indicating to a broken glass that he had apparently shoved his hand through.  I sent him to the bathroom to rinse the soap off his hand while I cleaned up the kitchen sink.  Unfortunately for me, I mistook a small piece of cooked tomato for part of his finger.  Hilarity did not ensue.  I chased SB with what he thought was an unusual amount of paper towels before I was finally able to see his finger and discern that everything appeared to be still attached except for some skin and surface tissue.

SB went to the hospital without me; with my inability to put any weight on my foot, I was more of a liability than a help.  He called me fifteen minutes later from the Accident & Emergency department to tell me that he was being advised to transfer to another hospital where there was a doctor on duty who could ascertain nerve damage but that would require an overnight stay.  He wasn't too keen on staying overnight in a hospital but I insisted that he get fully checked out.  As we were discussing the options I heard, "uh, oh," and then silence followed by a thump and a lot of voices in the background.  Oh great.  He was probably out cold somewhere in the A&E.

I hobbled down to the taxi stand and was at the hospital within ten minutes.  When I entered the A&E, an orderly approached me with a wheelchair but I clarified that I was not checking in but looking for the big, white guy who fainted.  Room 7, the orderly replied.  SB was lying in a cot that was too short for him, covered in a blanket and looking sad and sorry.  "I fainted," he informed me.  Yeah, I figured that part out.  Twenty minutes later the transfer ambulance arrived.  Their stretcher was even shorter than the cot.  They were trying to get him to move up on the stretcher but he didn't understand them.  "Scoot up," I told him and he complied.  As the EMTs were strapping him in a nurse came up to me with a pen and had me write "scoot" on her hand.  I wrote it for her but later wasn't so sure whether non-American English speakers would respond to it.

SB was transferred without incident to the nerve specialist ward where he was able to flirt with a really cute, young nurse.  One of the EMTs seemed to be sweet on the nurse and grumbled to her that SB had not revealed that he could speak Cantonese previous to seeing the cute nurse.  We were relieved to be informed that his hand did not seem to have nerve damage and at 4am he was finally sutured by a doctor who had been on shift since 7am the previous day.  The stitching wasn't bad considering the doctor's fatigue.  He was kind (and intelligent) enough to pay attention to my warning of SB's needle phobia and distracted him throughout the procedure with tales of the people he had sewn up throughout the night when he discovered that SB's needle issues did not prevent him from enjoying tales of blood and gore.  I don't know who enjoyed the tales more; SB was listening avidly while the doctor was assuring him that we had no idea how bizarre (and extensive) some people's injuries were.  Then the doctor asked SB about his other suture incidents and listened in awe as SB described the hockey puck that had cut his eyelid, the sailboat rigging that had torn his thigh open, and the basketball court that opened up his elbow.

The doctor wanted SB to stay in his room until morning though I'm not sure why.  Perhaps he wanted someone to entertain until his shift was over.  We convinced him to discharge us, though, and were back in our bed by morning.  In the taxi on the way home SB was going on about some Peruvian llamas that had a genetic mutation which caused them to faint when startled.  It was good to see him back to his bouncy, weird self.

Friday, June 29, 2012

All good deeds part 1

SB and I have had a rather bumpy ride for the past two weeks.  I'll start with two weeks ago.  On Saturday we arrived at the Central Blood Donor Center with several of our friends to join the marrow registry.  As soon as we passed the entrance I knew that things were going downhill because the marrow registration process required drawing blood rather than the cheek swab that is done back home.  SB has a huge problem with needles.  Getting a flu shot is about all we can manage per annum.

I went first and as I was entering the donation area, I told the nurse that SB had a needle phobia and requested to be present when they drew his blood.  Her reaction was less than confidence inspiring; she kind of nodded at me and blew me off.  I repeated that I would need to be present when they drew his blood.

Once I was done, I stood up and walked to the entrance where SB was already in a chair with the blood pressure cuff attached.  Hong Kong's Nurse Ratched was leaning over him with a needle in hand.  Clearly they had decided to ignore me.  It's amazing how people think that SB's large size should mean that he's tough.  I would think that they should take me more seriously because of his large size.  Have you ever had a 200lb man freak out on you?  I could see that SB was already completely tense and silently panicking.  By the time I reached him, he had tensed up so much that his vein had disappeared back under his skin despite the blood pressure cuff.  Instead of releasing the band and starting over, Nurse Ratched apparently decided to go for it and stabbed in the general vicinity of where the vein had been. 

Surprisingly she did not find the vein.  She then tried to remove the needle but it was stuck in his arm as he was so tense that he was shaking.  "Relax!" she shrieked at him while yanking at the needle.  "We need to draw blood from your other arm," said her demonic assistant, at which SB responded by going into some sort of mini seizure and passing out.  Even passed out, he was tensed up with his arms and legs at 90 degree angles like a cat in rigor mortis.  The rest of the staff were trying to recline his chair but he was stiffly bent with the needle still lodged in his arm.  Finally he went fully unconscious and they were able to lie him down and pull the needle from his arm.

He woke up green in color, sweating profusely and disoriented.  Then he proceeded to vomit loudly into a bag.  Since he was seated at the first chair in the donation room, all the other donors had to walk past him.  After a few minutes Nurse Ratched had enough and stomped off, taking her demonic assistant with her.  She was replaced by a more empathetic woman who gave me a fan to try to cool the sweat soaked ball of misery that was formerly SB.  He spent the next hour and a half making ornery demands, passing out, and vomiting.  He wanted my ipod.  He wanted me to fan him.  He wanted a pillow.  Where the crap was I going to find a pillow?!  I swiped an arm rest pillow from the chair next to us.  Then I realized that the fan I was using had a large graphic of a syringe and a drop of blood.  No wonder SB kept looking at me and vomiting.

We ended up pulling a runner.  The well meaning nurse wanted to keep checking his blood pressure before allowing us to go home but he wasn't getting better in a room full of needles and bags of blood.  I half dragged him out of the door while the staff tried to get us to turn around.  We stumbled to a taxi and made it home without any more vomiting.  He slept for the rest of the day, curled up and still sweating.

I have a feeling that we're not getting flu shots this year.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Free Lee

Among SB's precious memorabilia is a photo of our rugby team circa 1996, which features a man who appears to be missing his kit.  By the time that I joined the CWB team he was long gone but apparently not forgotten.  Naked Man is returning to Hong Kong for a visit, as often is the case because no one seems able to leave this place entirely.  The old boys will gather at Carnegies to relive their wilder, younger days and catch up on stories.  Here is Naked Man's story:

Many moons ago the Hong Kong Sevens wasn't quite the major commercial success that is is today; it was more home grown yet still a spectacle that featured rugby's greatest sevens teams.  During the 1996 tournament, Naked Man and his friends were invited to an event featuring the All Blacks.  As the All Blacks were performing their famous Haka, a passport slipped from the pocket of one of the warriors and fell to the ground.  Later, a woman named Lee found the passport and went into a fit of rapture befitting the momentous occasion.  She and Naked Man's other female friends were avid jersey collectors and fell into a discussion of how to return the passport in a manner that would provide the greatest exposure to the All Black team.  Meanwhile a member of the team management returned to the event to search for the missing passport.  Some of Naked Man's group thought it would be amusing to inform him that the passport was being held for ransom by a crazed fan.  Apparently the member of management had been born with a genetic deformity that rendered him devoid of all humor because he immediately threatened arrests, lawsuits, and worst of all, banishment from Sevens, when Lee returned the passport to him.

At the Sevens that year, several sympathetic groups of people had posted flyers on the wall with "Free Lee" written across the top.  Naked Man remembers seeing the flyers as he was queued for beer.  He even remembers some of the Sevens competitions.  He does not, however, remember how he ended up with a "Free Lee" tattoo on his buttocks.

And that is the story of Naked Man.  I am sure that there is a moral to this story.

Friday, June 15, 2012

get away quickly

Oftentimes it is comforting to spend Friday evenings at the local pub with our eclectic group of neighbors but sometimes it begins to seem repetitive and then suddenly I look up and see a bunch of barn animals, myself included, braying at their own wit.  And then I have to get away.

I enjoy my friends at the pub greatly but once in a while SB and I skip the bar stool and go tramping up into the hills.  We like to stand on top of the small reservoir above Happy Valley and look down at the bright lights and peaceful valley.  Once we ran into some Slovenian tourists who had brought along a flask.  They claimed that this was typical hydration for their countrymen.  So in the end we spent Friday evening having a nip with some eclectic neighbors.

SB and I would like to try other activities for Friday nights.  Readers, what other options are there to open up the weekend?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

holy rolling hell

What do you do when your friend finds God, and his God isn't the one that you know about?  I have been close with my friend, A, since undergrad.  What originally began as a mutual attraction grew into a close friendship once we realized that we might be too different to work out as a couple.  At the time our differences consisted of his small town roots and my international rootlessness.  He wanted to settle down in South Texas with a brood of children and I wanted to be a rolling stone.  He remained in South Texas and I moved to New York for grad school.  He visited me everywhere I went.  He was my date for my best friend's wedding; I wasn't so sure that I was going to keep my boyfriend but I was sure that A would be my friend forever.

A couple of months after my graduation he ran into problems.  He was arrested for driving drunk and discovered that his fiance had a little bit too much fun at her hen party.  He went through a lot all at once.  At some point he began attending one of those mega-churches.  I wasn't against it because it seemed to ground him and give him peace.  He was able to evaluate his life and make changes in his behavior that needed to be made.  He became more responsible, more mature.  Once in a while he shared beliefs from his church that made me nervous.  We talked about our differing opinions and agreed to disagree.  Now, five years later, I don't recognize my friend.  He is "righteous" and has lost the good humor that used to flow so easily from him.  He is stern when he was easy going and judgmental when he was open minded.  Sometimes I worry about saying things that will cause him to cut me out of his life and sometimes I want to just tell the truth about how I feel and get it over with.  I've been through this before with some of my family: the joyful rediscovery of God followed by righteousness and rules and finally the condemnation of nonbelievers.  It's funny how others can't just be happy with their own salvation but have to take the extra step of letting the rest of us know that we are going to hell.  I think that one of my most beautiful friendships is going to hell and it breaks my heart.

Monday, June 4, 2012

aloha aloha

In Hawaii, Aloha means both hello and goodbye.  It is common to present house guests with a pineapple as an aloha present when they arrive at your home.  Aloha, hello.  If the house guests overstay their welcome, they may be gently urged to leave by placement of a pineapple at the foot of their bed.  Aloha, goodbye.

We had a rather disturbing visit for two and a half really long weeks by SB's fellow classmate who had been living in HK and was moving away.  We didn't realize that she would spend almost the entirety of her stay on the couch.  She only left to fetch bottles of Coke Zero (two per day).  Apparently most of her friends failed to live up to her standards so she had no one that she wanted to visit despite having been here for over five years.  We had been trying to encourage her to seek counseling for the past year and were concerned about what we saw as symptoms of depression.  Little did I know that my sympathy would be sorely tested.  While we were all together I started noticing odd behavior.  She was batting her eyes at SB often.  May I just add that I had only read about characters batting their eyes in books and the reality of it is not as flirtatious or sexy as it sounds.  In fact, the first few times it seemed like she had some sort of a nervous twitch.  Eventually I realized, oh, she's batting her eyes at him.  This is awkward.

Bless his oblivious heart, SB eventually asked her if something was wrong with her eyes so she stopped the batting but continued talking to him in a weird, baby voice.  Then one morning at breakfast I looked over to where she was sitting across from him and she was holding her glass to her mouth with both hands and doing some weird hunchy thing with her shoulders while looking over the top of her glass and making facial contortions as though she was caught between a giggle and a seizure.  Good crap, I thought, is that what a simper looks like?  Where are we, in Victorian England?  She did this a few more times while I tried not to lose my appetite until SB very thoughtfully told her that when she held the glass to her face with her hands, it reminded him of a feed bag.  Then he proceeded to wax poetic about his favorite horse at the Cornell stables, who once bit him on the ass.  Can you blame me for feeling just the smallest twinge of spiteful pleasure that she reminded him of a horse? 

Then there was her request to spend her last evening at a karaoke bar.  When I say that I can't sing, I am not exaggerating or looking for praise and reassurance.  I have a tiny range that I am passable at and the rest is a mixture of screeching and croaking.  SB has a lovely voice.  The house guest has a lovely voice, probably and good as SB's but I am biased toward him.  The night before I had allowed SB to coax me into singing a Blondie song, which I surprisingly hadn't totally butchered.  We laughed about my ability to hold it together until the end of the song when Debbie Harry took off on a harmony and I immediately crashed and burned.  If you are guessing that the house guest chose to play the same song of all the available songs and sang it beautifully to SB, you would be correct.  I kept reminding myself that she was depressed, needy of SB's affection attention, and most importantly, leaving soon.  That became my mantra for the next 12 hours.  She is leaving soon. 

Oh, I was tested.  She phoned SB FOUR times and text messaged him numerous times in the hours between when she left and when the plane took off but then she was gone.  No more crazy, needy weirdos except me, I told SB, while waving the pineapple that I had bought but didn't give her in a threatening manner.  At least my crazy friends are interesting and entertaining.  And then I proceeded to eat so much pineapple that my teeth hurt.  Aloha.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

the bottom falls out

I  told you in my previous post, titled meeting in the middle, that SB and I were working on a book together.  Well, only a few chapters in I am sad to report that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith did not work out.  SB informed me by the third chapter that even the addition of zombies could not spice it up for him.  No, Ms. Austen did not light any literary fires.  On top of that, the recent events of naked Rudy Eugene eating the face of his live victim in Miami, porn actor Luka Magnotta making a snuff film in Montreal, and Alexander Kinyua of Maryland man who ate his house mate's his heart and brain, are truly stranger than this fiction and frankly, make the zombie tale more horribly believable than ridiculously farcical.

Friday, June 1, 2012


There seem to be secret societies at all of the Ivies with the exception of Princeton, who banned them although one wonders about the abundance of "supper clubs."  I wouldn't exactly call these organizations secret societies since everyone seems to know of them.  They hardly qualify as even secretive considering that a freshman reporter at the university newspaper appears to have no problem "unveiling" the yearly induction lists.  Despite all of the cloak and dagger (sometimes literal) behavior it seems that anyone with the ability to use Google can find out whatever they want.  And the names!  Sphinx, Skull and Bones, Quill and Dagger, Seal and Serpent.  Skull and Bones has even had a movie made about them, starring that guy from the teen soap opera, Dawson's Creek.

One Spring day while I was at work in the Dean's office at Cornell, I looked out of the window onto the Arts Quad and saw a group of men standing in the middle, wearing khaki pants, blue sport coats, and white shirts.  On the perimeter of the quad stood several figures in black cloaks and hoods.  At certain intervals, the cloaked figures took one step toward the group of young men.  "Initiation," explained the accounts lady, "They do this every year.  Are there any muffins left over from the meeting?"  Meanwhile students continued walking across the quad, most of them typical and oblivious to whatever was going on around them.  A few who almost walked into the cloaked figures stopped to gape.  Eventually the cloaks reached the sport coats.  It was anti-climatic.  I don't know what I was expecting but they didn't even execute a group hug.  They just stood around, probably speechifying, and eventually wandered off.  I wonder if the inductees felt the same way that I did.  The heightened sense of drama, the handshakes, regalia, pomp and circumstance, and then...a long speech, probably followed by cheap champagne back at the windowless hut that everyone is referring to as "the tomb."  Maybe they were executing a crucial life lesson: all that preparation ultimately leads to disappointment.