Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Aesthetics in a crisis. Oh, plus critters.

I was clearing out half-written blog posts last night when Death Cab for Cutie's What Sarah Said trickled like sly tears out of my iPod. At some point last year I actually listened to the lyrics; the song is set in the waiting room of an ICU. Before that I hadn't realized how sad it was.

So I was listening to the song and reading things I'd written but not posted several months ago, when my dad was first in the hospital, and thinking about where your brain goes when you are in total crisis. Or anyway, the things I thought about that night my dad got taken to the hospital.

Of course, that night I was completely present, terrified, devastated, silently begging and making promises to and bargains with God. But, I don't know, somewhere between 2:00 and 3:00 am, when they'd taken my dad from the ER to the ICU and we couldn't be with him, and the lobby was deafeningly quiet, and all we could do was wait, I started to focus on our surroundings.

There were three of us - Betty, my friend K, who so kindly stayed the whole time, and me. We'd had a whole, amazing group of friends who came immediately when I called frantically on my drive from DC to VA. They stayed with us in the waiting room, helped me make phone calls, gave love and hugs and support.

But at midnight I begged them to go home and get some sleep. All there was to do was wait. And we'd need them the next day. They all, plus more, came back the next day. But in the middle of the night, there was no point.

So we sat. And waited. And I wondered aloud if the hospital went out of its way to choose the most hideous furniture possible. Purples and greens and ugly patterns. And did they make that picture of the man in the wheelchair look like Jesus deliberately? Was there some message meant by etching Jesus in a wheelchair into the middle of the huge stone plaque on the wall with what I assume are the names of benefactors? And how about some chairs without arms so you could stretch out?

These were the stupid things I chose to focus on in the lobby.

We went downstairs when they transferred my dad down to the trauma ICU, and got put in a private room with equally hideous furniture. And of course I had to say that it looked like a disco revolution threw up in muted colors all over the furniture. Practically offensive, if one weren't too tired to be offended.

To our delight, however, there was a couch and a reclining chair. We set Betty in the chair and put her feet up. K was on the couch. And I decided to lie down on the floor and use my purse as a pillow. I was just too exhausted to sit up anymore.

It was still cold in April, and I was wearing a fleece and corduroys, and so I was warm and really had no skin touching the gross carpet. But still. It was a waiting room floor. Not enticing. I was just desperate.

We were all starting to doze when I remembered a story a friend of mine had told me on my business trip earlier that week about catching things at hotels. And hotels, I was thinking, hotels must be nothing compared to what germfests hospitals are. People come in to hospitals with all manner of crazy things.

And so I had to wake them up to ask if they thought I could get crabs through my corduroys. I mean, if there were any living on the hospital floor.

The answer was no, they couldn't imagine that crabs could crawl through corduroy fabric. And anyway, what???


  1. I'm glad that you focused on crabs. Imagine how skeezed out you would have been if you started thinking about legionnaires or meningitis...

    Pick your poison, I guess.

  2. Crabs is a thing that I would rather lose than to have never lain beside at all.

    Anyway, you're a lovely writer.

  3. Dcup - Yikes! You're right! It's just because my friend was talking about crabs before. Lucky he wasn't talking about Ebola!

    Jordaan - Sweet. Thank you! :)


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