… A Cut Above
By Jeff Salter
The crashing blow to my face stunned me and I staggered. The perpetrator was nearly seven feet tall, strong as oak, probably three feet wide … and every bit of 200 pounds.
I held my head and tried to shake out the cobwebs. I didn’t even know I was bleeding until Sandra Bullock peered into my face and handed me a tissue.
It wasn’t like it seems in the movies. I found myself wondering, “What would Harrison Ford do?”
The Choir’s musical is beautiful and the sanctuary is packed. Afterwards, I wend my way back toward the choir area to meet my wife. About 99% of the audience presses toward exits in the opposite direction. Finally, I break free into the network of administrative hallways, which are practically abandoned by that time. Not sure where I’ll find Denise, I look to my left (toward the Children’s Wing) then turn back to my right toward the choir area.
That’s when I’m cold-cocked, right smack dab in the middle of my face! I stagger backwards, not completely sure who/what hit me. Reflex closes your eyes in such cases … and I guess mine are still closed. I can hear voices, but my brain is quite scrambled. I’m what you call ‘stunned.’
Someone apologizes profusely. My only certainties: pain in my face and head. But somehow my own prognosis is optimistic: “It’s okay,” I tell the apologist. My brain formulates two expressions: “Give me a minute to let my head clear,” and “Just let me lean against the wall — I don’t think I can walk yet.” Unfortunately, not much comes out but a few mumbled words … perhaps short phrases. Someone hands me a tissue, but I don’t really know what to do with it.
Somebody else inquires, “Are you okay?” I open my eyes cautiously; it’s Sandra Bullock peering into my face! No, wait. She looks somewhat like Sandra B. … only prettier. Is this a minor delusion? To Sandra’s question about my condition, my reply is less assured than before: “I dunno.”
I guess I imagined I’d be eloquent and witty in such circumstances. Nope. Well, maybe I could at least appear lucid. Not completely. Conscious? Well … yes. I’m kind of slumped against the wall, still holding my face / head, trying to inventory my faculties. I hear people talking about the blood that’s pooling above my eye.
Blood? My brain starts to register a more complete picture. I’m cut! My forehead has a gash … of indeterminate size. Sandra hurries my use of the tissue … before blood splatters my suede jacket. I remove my glasses – amazed that they’re not broken – and press the tissue to my forehead. Yep, that’s blood all right. Sandra says I’ll probably need stitches. Stitches? How bad is this gash? From the attention it’s attracted, I assume ‘pretty bad’.
I mumble something about taking a look in that window, just about 20 feet away. I stagger over and peer into the glass but can’t see much more than a blurry outline.
Just then appears my own son, out of nowhere. Now, this is the same Dave who cannot be reached even when you page him, beep him, leave messages at his apartment and workplace … and start calling his friends! Yet, now he appears out of nowhere … just when I really need someone to lean on. Go figure. I ask him to steer me to the restroom so I can look in a mirror; I can’t navigate very well on my own because my glasses are off and my ‘good’ (right) eye is covered.
Dave gets me to the restroom mirror and I survey my gash: at least 1.5 millimeters long! It’s not so deep that my brains can seep out, but it’s bleeding a good bit. I apply paper towels dampened with cool water – to ‘clean’ it a bit – and otherwise keep light pressure on the wound.
About that time I hear Denise’s voice. In the men’s room? I wonder. No, she must be outside in the hall. I’m still basically ‘blind’ without my glasses … and only my ‘bad’ (left) eye functional. But I make my way to her and she surveys the wound. She doesn’t have many questions; in fact, she seems to know more about the incident than I do. One of the witnesses had hurried to find Denise right after my collision. Lauren had seen everything as it happened. As she put it, “I could see it unfolding, like it was slow-motion … but I couldn’t do anything to stop it.”
This is how it unfolded: That main hallway has many doors along its expanse. Most of them properly open INto the rooms they define; several have glass windows so people can see out and in. But this particular door – about seven feet high and three feet wide – opens OUT into the hallway. Nope; no window. Just 200 pounds (or more) of solid oak!
A teen-aged girl exited the media department’s control room at the precise instant I strode down the nearly empty hall … with my head turning from left (rear) to right (forward). The inside edge of the heavy door smashed into my face (or vice-versa), striking my right brow. The girl apologized, brought tissues, etc. The lady I’d identified as Bullock was actually Ann M.; she truly does resemble Sandra … only prettier. Ann is a nurse, which explains why she peered into my face and suggested I’d need stitches.
Right now the task is to stop the bleeding and get me home. Question: Am I too woozy to drive? Not sure yet.
Dave has reappeared with a steri-strip (butterfly band-aid) and some ointment; the three of us seek a suitable place to deal with this. No chair here, no light there; finally Dave finds an un-locked office. I’m seated; Denise mops the blood and squishes ointment into the crevasse. Suddenly from my right (presently my blind side) comes a woman’s voice. She’s complimenting Dave profusely. I readily agree that we’re very proud of him also, but I wonder how she knows so much about him. She goes on and on: wishes her son would grow up to be like Dave, etc.
Finally I inquire, “In what context do you know Dave?” Dave teaches her son’s Sunday School class, it seems. Just as Denise is readying the steri-strip, there’s a comment that elicits the question, “Are you a nurse?” As a matter of fact, she is (though not the same nurse as in the hallway). So Denise hands over the band-aid, which the new nurse applies firmly to my wound.
I mainly listen to their additional back and forth. Slowly getting my brains back in their usual mooring, I stand gingerly. There are more introductions and a teen-aged girl appears in this tiny office. Suddenly the girl chirps, “He’s the man I hit with the door!” And she launches into more apologies.
I say it wasn’t her fault and reassure her that I’m not mad at her (though I don’t care much for the 200-pound door!). The girl gives her own perspective of the incident. The new nurse slowly processes this new information: her daughter bloodied the face of her son’s teacher’s father. [Think about it.] Truly a remarkable coincidence – if you believe in such – that this lady would be drawn to this tiny office to tend the wound of a stranger. Go figure.
Nurse Ann (a.k.a. Sandra B.) also appears near that tiny office at some point to inquire again about my wound.
These events seem to have taken an hour or more; in reality the whole thing occupies probably about 20 minutes. During this time, I distinctly recall several specific thoughts:
1. It’s a lot funnier when Chevy Chase smashes into a door.
2. Holding on to the bloody tissues makes the wound seem more impressive.
3. This will probably make a cool scar … and chicks are intrigued by scars.
Ten years ago, on my 51st birthday … the gash on my forehead garnered considerably more attention than I did, in my own right.
Denise “ran into” the nurse/mom seven days after the incident. In their brief chat she asked how my cut was healing, how I was doing, etc. Denise reported my ankle-twisting incident of the previous day (while helping a friend load a truck). The nurse said, “Maybe your husband needs a full-time nurse!”
The nurse said her daughter felt really bad about her involvement (opening the door) in the mishap. Meanwhile, her son (at various intervals), has seen fit to razz his big sister, along these lines: “I still can’t believe you beat-up my teacher’s Dad!”
Have you ever had a real-life event that you wouldn’t believe if you read it in a novel?