Good evening, children. I’m going to tell you a story about one of the many times I nearly shuffled off this mortal coil.
Once upon a time, some friends and I decided to go ice-skating. Now, it’s important to know that I had never been ice-skating before, and that I’ve always found roller-blades to be a bit beyond my standard level of co-ordination. I’m clumsy, is the point. However, as I’ve repeatedly said, I’m fond of new experiences, and I thought that I’d give it a shot.
There we were. Skates were rented, disgusting sponge-rubber floor was navigated, and we were lacing on skates around a freshly iced rink.
I wrapped myself in my shawl, that I had brought specifically because I thought it would flare like wings as I glided around the rink, as a character once did in a favorite novel. Shaky, unsteady, I toddled out onto the rink. I carefully made my way around the edge, clinging to the wall, once! twice! thrice! gaining confidence with each pass. On my fourth circuit, I left the safety of the wall. Spoilers: This was a mistake.
As I glided around, with more luck than confidence, more speed than skill, my wrap did indeed flare out like the wings of a swan. As I rounded the last curve – about to sit down and rest for a moment – my bad ankle finally turned, and I flew. I was an unguided missile, traveling in an arc, finally landing about six or eight feet from where I began, hitting the ice with my chin.
It was immediately noticeable that I had left a chunk of my beard on the rink, about the size and shape of a quarter, about a quarter of an inch thick. There was also a massive divot in the ice, pooled with my blood. No worries, folks! It quickly froze over, keeping other skaters from getting their blades stuck in it. Also, this isn’t the part where I almost died. No, for now, my friend K ran and brought me a fistful of paper towels, and I sat down, approaching dizziness, mopping up blood until I thought that the bleeding had stopped.
At that point, I actually managed another turn or two about the rink, despite the fact that I was exceedingly light-headed.
The small party breaks up for the evening; I am driven home, and given that it’s Tuesday*, and I don’t have work the next day, I purchase two bottles of what turns out to be a disgusting wine (It was Attica Retsina, which I had never had; It’s made in Athens, and they put sap into it. It tastes like cheap, moldy, gin – and I like gin). Mind you, several hours pass, as we travel, I shop, and I proceed to Drunk Facebook Tuesday like there’s no tomorrow.
I think four hours in total had passed between the accident and the event I am about to describe. Four, importantly, blood-free hours. And then –
That is the sound that is made by four hour’s worth of blood that have been trapped by beard, when it falls into your lap, staining your brand new, white, merino wool, shawl. That is the sound made by anxiety tears when you realize that you’re still bleeding from your massive chin wound, and have had a bottle and a half of a blood-thinning agent. That’s the sound made by an ex-husband’s phone when you ring him to say that you might not be alive tomorrow, and can he please make sure that your mother isn’t the first one to find the corpse?
I went back to Facebook and wine, thinking that the damage had already been done, and promising my possessions to various friends. I also hammered out my favoured burial arrangements, improbable though they be – I want a lead coffin, which isn’t something that is generally available. As the wound was still open, and, you know, bleeding, I asked Facebook if it thought that the moonshine I had received for Christmas would be sufficient to sterilize it; it had strawberries in. Then I ignored Facebook’s advice, and used it anyway.
Still bleeding, but with arrangements made, I made my tipsy way to bed, confident that if I woke up, it would be a victory. Clearly I made it through, but I appreciate waking up more than I used to.
*Drunk Facebook Tuesday is a happy tradition of mine; rather than just being drunk on FB, it is comprised of usually posting some topic of debate, and drunkenly hashing it out, in a public forum. There is also the element of hijacking your friend’s threads.