This One Time, 113

This one time I was having one of those days when it seemed that no decision I made was the right one — and things were snowballing. Like the wrong answer to “Is this my turn onto the highway?” not only puts you on the wrong segment of the highway. It puts you going the wrong way on the wrong highway — head-on toward a funeral procession. No, no, make that a presidential convoy.

Don’t listen to anyone when they say that everyone has days like that. It’s just not true. Nine times out of ten you wouldn’t get to hear the story of a day like that because the protagonist didn’t live all the way to the end of the story. Some of us just might be better at survival — or have that mean and brutal kind of luck that wants us to experience our misery to the fullest.

It started off with putting off getting ready to go out until the last minute, then choosing poorly which pair of pants to wear, compounded by choosing a pair of high-top sneakers to go with them.

So here’s the cascade. The pants I chose had a hole in the bottom of the right front pocket. I knew about it, but I’d forgotten because the hole was pretty recent. I threw some change in my pocket anyway, but nothing I really cared about would have fit through the hole, so I didn’t think too much more about it. It did bug me, though, but I was in enough of a hurry to that I couldn’t take the time to change. Well, maybe I could have except that I’d already put on and tied up the shoes.

Before I hit the door I’d noticed that a nickel had snuck out of my pocket through the hole. So far not a big deal. I didn’t see the nickel around, so I moved the rest of my change to another pocket and headed out. I may not be wealthy, but I can afford to let a nickel escape every now and then.

I hopped in the car and leadfooted it downtownish to where I was meeting a couple of the guys from work, one with his wife, the other with his girlfriend, and we were going to meet one of the girlfriend’s coworkers (with whom I was certain she was going to try to set me up, and I was kinda okay with that) at a bar before heading to a movie. So far so good. Except, right as she was coming through the door, not that I knew who she was yet, I felt something moving around in my shoe.

When I was a kid I lived down in Florida. The entire state is infested with these things the locals call waterbugs. They’re actually cockroaches, but most people’s nasty-ass cockroaches are maybe a whole inch long and just kind of scurry around. In Florida, waterbugs are about as long as one of your fingers. Also, they fly. But, more annoyingly, sometimes they climb into your shoes at night and you don’t notice one’s in there until you’ve been wearing it for two hours, walking down the hall to your second period class. “Waterbug” sounds like a less disgusting euphemism for “cockroach”, but if you just call them cockroaches, people don’t get enough warning about what they’re up against. There are ordinary roaches, and then there are these Jurassic-sized flying samurai-ninja cockroaches that laugh it off when you stomp on them. It takes sorcery to kill them.

So I guess we’ll call the discovery of the nickel moving around in my shoe a kind of a Vietnam-style flashback. Two tables got knocked over and around three hundred bucks of beer and liquor dumped and/or generally flung about before my friends could drag me to the floor and help me get my shoe off to retrieve my missing nickel.

At some point during my conniption, some helpful individual called 911. While the bartender and my friends were trying to survey the extent of the damage and make sure I was okay, the police arrived and cleared a path for a gurney and the paramedics from a firetruck. For some reason no one could bring themselves to say what had actually happened. Before I could catch my breath and set things straight, I was wearing a blood pressure cuff and was being given a sedative. Someone had handed me my beer-soaked shoe and a paramedic was prodding my foot with something sharp and asking me if I felt it. And then I was in an ambulance and headed to the hospital.

That was the hospital that the presidential motorcade got routed to just after the sunburst started. You can imagine what a zoo that turned into. It started just after I got unloaded, but the motorcade didn’t show up until after dark. Phones already didn’t work, power was already on backup, and … the Secret Service was everywhere. I got shuffled down to the psych wing and bounced right the hell back out, but, in the end, just settled down in a hallway, forever reeking of beer, just me and a blanket and a couple of weeks to kill trying to stay out from under everybody’s feet.

It wasn’t the worst place on earth to end up, but I saw a lot of things I really wish I hadn’t. And if I’d put on the right pair of pants, I’d have ridden this out with friends, maybe even made it back home when sunset fell.


April 23, 2011 · by xalieri · Posted in This One Time  


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