As a lot of you guys know, when I was a kid, my mom was in and out of my life. One of those in times, it was decided that in order to get to know each other, we’d go on weekly “dates” to the movies, or to dinner. So We’d both get dressed up, and usually we’d end up at the local Mongolian Grill situated conveniently under a freeway, and behind a Big 5 Sporting Goods (so you know it’s quality), where we’d stare at each other, me in distress, her in some other kind of distress, until we were done with our single serving of noodles and water. This was also the period of time where I saw literally every movie that hit the theaters.
As all things do, this began to fall apart. I think it centered around money, and the fact that I’m not going to pretend to like someone no matter how much Mongolian Grill they buy me. Which matches perfectly to my mom’s problem of feeling like she should get something she didn’t earn just because she said she wants it. Especially if that something is the genuine love and respect of another human being. One she’s previously treated terribly.
All this leads up to the day in question. I feel like I’m owed something, mom feels like she’s owed something. Neither of us is really respecting or acknowledging the other, only what we think we can get from one another, and of course this ends up in a massive screaming match.
At some juncture of the fight, I felt I’d made my point so I headed to the back door for my dramatic exit. Unlike the front door, the back door was unlatched and on a spring so it made this really satisfying slam and all you had to do was shove it. Which I did.
But then I had One More Important Statement to make. You know the kind. A statement with such clarity of thought and singleness of purpose that they win an unwinnable argument, turn cold stone hearts to flesh once more, the single most final phrase or sentence or salient argument. Usually they occur to us hours, or even days after the discussion that spawned them is over, but I’m really smart, so I thought of mine less than a second after shoving the back door open.
So I stuck my hand out to shove it open again, and my hand went straight through the window. Which actually wouldn’t have been a bad injury. I got three little cuts from my hand going forward into the window. The nurse taped those together with butterfly band-aids. If that was all that happened, I probably wouldn’t have even gone to the hospital at all. In fact, I probably would have gotten in so much more shit for my rampant destruction of property. Lucky, as soon as I felt the glass shatter, I decided to yank my hand back to the safety of my body, and in so doing I impaled my wrist on a piece of glass, and ripped a three inch long gash in it.
After that time moved very slowly. I didn’t feel any pain, and in fact, there wasn’t even blood at first, just a cleft of skin that was stunningly white. I remember watching the paint-red blood pour in from opposite sides to flood the valley and run off onto the floor. Meanwhile, the whole room echoed with an extremely good imitation of the sound they play in cop movies after a flash-bang goes off.
I became aware that my mom and grandma were standing next to me, but I couldn’t tear my eyes off the cut. Hilarious in retrospect, but surreal at the time, my mother was screaming “Don’t freak out!” while hitting the shoulder of my injured wrist over and over again. My grandma went and got a flower towel from the kitchen, and at the time, I thought it was a shame to stain it.
Grandma wrangled mom, and started to drag me out the back door to the car. I briefly detoured to my room and tried to haphazardly apply some comfortable clothes since I knew it would be hours in the emergency room, but after about three seconds of watching me flail and bleed into the towel, it was decided that velvet miniskirt and green turtleneck were appropriate ER attire. (Forgive me, it was the 90s)
I don’t know how long I actually waited, but I do remember that the admitting nurse was nice enough to clean the blood off my feet where it had splashed down and pooled in the toes of my Mary Jane’s (again, the 90s). I also remember that the doctor shot anesthesia straight into my cut using one of the thinnest, smallest needles I’ve ever seen in my life. I decided I wasn’t going to scream, but that only made it worse because when I did scream it came out in this high-pitched tea-kettle sound instead of the powerful, throaty yelp it should have been.
But it was pretty much worth it to watch him stitch up my entirely numb wrist afterward. I’m pretty sure I asked my mom if that’s what it was like to be on drugs, and I’m pretty sure I got hushed by my grandma.
Also, there was a boy there who got hit by a car while riding his bike home from school. He was fine, but the woman who hit him insisted on taking him to the emergency room, which was unfortunate because then the emergency room refused to let him go home without a parent or guardian, and it sounded like both his parents, one of whom was a lawyer, were too busy and important to come and pick him up. It was an interesting sort of example. Here was a boy my age who couldn’t get his parents to rescue him for love or money, and there I was with two parents present.
I have such a difficult relationship with my mom, but I think she did alright by me just by showing up. It was less than a couple of years after the wrist thing that I moved in with her away from my increasingly rapey grandpa. I may have had shitty parents, but I also had multitudes of parents. If a broken clock is right once a day, four broken clocks are right four times as much, right?