Monday, May 19, 2014

The Time the Doctor Hated Me

I'm a smart, well-traveled career woman with a master's degree and three published works on the market. Unfortunately, I'm also fairly awkward. Please enjoy this series chronicling some of the awkward things I've done and the lessons I've learned along the way.


These Awkward Things I've Done, Part 5: The Time the Doctor Hated Me

A few years ago when my sister Bethany broke her nose while swimming with her horse in the ocean (yes, you read that correctly), I was the first person she called.

"Cahn you get mby inchurance card amd bring id do dhe hosbital?" she slurred into the phone through the double-barrel fountains blood gushing from her nostrils. 

"What's wrong?" I asked, more than a little worried. After all, she'd recently informed me that she'd only gotten insurance on the off chance of a potentially debilitating riding accident.  ("Just in case I ever fall into a palmetto head and have to get my brain reattached," had been her exact words.)

"Ah broke mah dose," she informed me. 

I grabbed her insurance card, hopped in my car, and met her in the emergency room of the local hospital. We perched on a gurney in a florescent-lit hall, both of us shivering. Salt water still dribbled from Bethany's swimwear onto the floor as blood bubbled from the the split on the bridge of her nose (which was pretty much pointed sideways at that point). Both of us had books along, of course, so we sat side-by-side, backs to the wall, feet dangling over the edge of the gurney while we waited. 

I couldn't look away from the blood continually beading up on the bridge of Bethany's nose. "You need to wipe it," I would prompt her. "It's about to start trickling!"

"Stahp loogkingk ahd mbe ," she would say.

In this productive manner, we passed our time until being moved behind a curtained partition. A nurse  laid Bethany back and prepped her for stitches.

And then the doctor arrived. He was well past middle age, with a grizzled explosion of white hair sticking out from his head in indignant little spikes. I thought he looked like great fun -- like a funky Albert Einstein -- and decided to start cracking some jokes for his benefit.

That's when I learned that I had completely misread the room.

NURSE: *lays round paper circle over Bethany's face*
DOCTOR: *prepares to stitch*
RUTH: What's that - a toilet seat cover?
DOCTOR: (humorless) No.
RUTH: Well, it looks a bit... incommodious. 
BETHANY: *chuckle*
DOCTOR: *cold stare*
RUTH: *side eyes*
(silence and stitching)
DOCTOR: So, you keep horses?
BETHANY: Just the one.
DOCTOR: Where do you keep it?
RUTH: (trying new tactic) She keeps it in the closet at our apartment.
DOCTOR: (pauses mid-stitch) What?
RUTH: It's a tight squeeze, but what can you do?
BETHANY: She's kidding. I keep her at [x] Stables.
DOCTOR: Ah.
(silence and stitching)
RUTH: (having decided on a last ditch effort) You know what I was thinking...?
BETHANY: No. 
DOCTOR: No.
RUTH: I was thinking that maybe instead of sewing her nose up, you could maybe install something helpful.
DOCTOR: Install something.
RUTH: Yes. Like a little pocket.
DOCTOR: A pocket.
RUTH: ...with a zipper... 
DOCTOR: *cold stare*
RUTH: ...for keeping really tiny things in...
NURSE: *slackjawed*
RUTH: ...like maybe some small change... (trails off)
BETHANY: *chuckling*
DOCTOR: (coldly) Excuse me, but who are you?
RUTH: I'm the sister.
DOCTOR: *gives "you're dead to me" look*
RUTH: *side eyes*
NURSE: *shuts mouth*
RUTH: *zips lips and throws away the key*

The doctor neither looked at me nor spoke again until the procedure ended. Meanwhile I sat meekly in the corner, feeling foolish and embarrassed but at the same time trying not to laugh at his righteous indignation.

Granted, this happened nearly ten years ago. Since then, both the sophistication of my jokes and my ability to read a room have come a long way.

Well, they've come a little way.

Maybe. 

I think.

To be perfectly honest, I have no idea why I sometimes behave like this. Something just comes over me, and I decide that I must do everything in my power to make that person crack or die in the attempt. (Although generally the only thing that dies along the way is my dignity.)

The truth is that I'm trying to learn to heed the advice of my good friend Jodee, who has said: "Maybe you should try not acting like yourself until after people have gotten to know you."  Sage advice from someone who's put up with more than her fair share of ridiculousness from me. 

If we've met in person, chances are high that you've witnessed an instance in which my attempt to elicit a laugh has proven a big swing and a miss. If that's the case, then thank you for being my friend and laughing along anyway. 

Whether you're laughing with me or at me isn't really the issue.

As long as you're laughing, I'm okay with it either way.

:)


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