Adventures in Autistic Parenthood

Friday, August 15, 2014

Dark White Nights:

       This post has almost nothing to do with Dude. Fair Warning.
       I want it stated for the record that 2:00 am is a bad time to start a story. That being said, 2am is my time. Especially on the weekends. I'm not waiting to go anywhere, or for anyone to come home. No one's going to interrupt me and my doing of nothing. It's quiet, which is a precious gift around here. 2am is the time of day when you realize how noisy the rest of your life is. You've pretty much got your little corner of the world all to yourself. By and large, even though you probably wouldn't trade your family for the world, just about anyone can use some time when the world is quiet and you're the only person in it. You can wrap your arm around Boredom's shoulder and say, 'It's just you and me, pal. You. And. Me... So, whattaya want to do?' Mostly my Boredom just looks back and me and says, 'I don't know.... whattayou want to do?' Great... even my boredom is a smartass...
     What white nights are good for, if they're good for anything, is introspection about the past. Unfortunately, as a species we're not really geared for the nocturnal, so many times this will lead to dark musings and self-doubt. Well, that and getting pissed off at people from your past. But that's kind of like yelling at idiots in traffic. Raises your blood pressure, but they don't get a damned thing out of it. Okay, there is one further benefit. You get the sole, and undivided attention of your cat. That is also sometimes not a good thing.
     Someone (okay, more than just one) told me once that he could never predict what would come out of my mouth. He also said that I had some funny stories to tell. I had no argument with either statement. I did say that he was not the first person to make these observations... Hell, he wasn't even the first one that week. I did explain to him that even my bizarre sense of the ridiculous couldn't explain away all of the funny crap that just seems to happen around me.
     Case in point: While I was a stagehand in Florida I had a gig setting up the stage for Paul McCartney's New World Tour. Linda McCartney had declared the entire tour to be vegetarian and the carnivores were restless. A company from Michigan, of all places, was following the tour and erecting the steel scaffold that makes up the structure of the stage. The main problem being, the first week of May the average temp in Michigan was 45 degrees with 57% humidity, and the actual temp in Orlando? 92 degrees with 87% humidity so in the first three days of assembly 15 members of the 60 or so man crew fell out. 3 of them literally falling out of the steel with symptoms of heat prostration and heat stroke. So my company was called in to fill in the gaps, and then by our second day, take over the gig.
     Jackie, a gypsy on the steel crew, or someone who independently follows a tour and works the steel, walked over in my direction, twitching her left arm like a person with a mosquito bite on her shoulder blade. Most of my crew knew Jackie, as she was through town a couple times a year, but I had only met her the day before. I asked, 'What's wrong Jackie?' thinking that there was some sort of bug (which Florida has a plenitude) in her shirt. She said, 'I got my nipple pierced yesterday, and it itches like hell.' Which is a hell of a thing on your 3rd job with a company, and I was 7 months removed from a somewhat less than worldly rural environment. Okay, I was a hick from the sticks and had never even known someone with a nipple piercing and here I was within inches of a nice looking athletic-bodied woman who wanted to talk to me about it. This was destined to be an educational experience.(I had no idea) Trying not to act like a 13 year old with his first copy of Playboy, I decided to play it cool. 'Itches pretty good, I guess.'  She twitched a couple of more times, scowled at her (small, but well formed) chest, looked up at me and said matter-of-factly, 'Yeah. Wanna see?' Before I could even react she grabbed the strap of her tank top, drew it quickly aside and showed me the offending ( or offended) breast and the aforementioned nipple piercing. This was not a flash-viewing, she fully expected me to examine her accessory and the flesh around it, and look for swelling or irritation. Now here I am, a married country boy in a fairly populated city, in the middle of a football stadium in broad daylight with a woman I barely know showing me her tit and asking me to look closely at it.
     I knew right then and there that I had chosen the right line of work.
     Still trying to be all worldly and cool-ish I tried to remember where her eyes were when I said, 'You know if you put band aids over those they wouldn't move around so much and irritate your nipples.' She brightened immediately, 'Thanks! I think I'll try that.'
     Now even if you took away my somewhat humorous take on the situation and simply stated, 'When I worked my third gig in Florida, a woman I'd just met walked up to me and showed me her boob and the nipple ring inserted therein.' It doesn't make it any less bizarre. So while some of the funny stories can be chalked up to the way that I tell them, the fact remains that some pretty weird shit happens around me quite frequently.
    Only some of that weird shit is named Dude. But that is pretty weird sometimes. By this time you might be wondering, 'This is semi-interesting, but when is he getting to the Dude-stuff?' Well, that's another great thing about 2 in the morning... You don't have to follow any rules or live up to any expectations. Even your own.
   Oddly enough... relatively speaking, The reason that was only my third gig was because 5 weeks before I was helping to move the company warehouse to a new location and had fallen off a loading dock, breaking my collarbone, separating my shoulder, and requiring 9 staples in the side of my head to keep my punitive brains from falling out. (I know I have something resembling brain matter in there because I required an MRI because of my head injury) (I asked the Dr. to send the proof of brain to my father immediately)
    I was all alone on the asphalt with the wind knocked out of me, unable to use my left arm. Every one else on the crew was in the motor-home inside the warehouse having a 'pot-break'. So the only person in the building not stoned fell on his head and was lying bleeding in the parking lot. Take that OSHA!
    By the time any of the stoners realized that I was gone I had crawled to the side of the building and was sitting up against it, trying to remember how to breathe. Someone saw the blood on the parking lot and I was found and the ambulance called in short order. After that I was sort of.... dragged out into the parking lot after having a bag of ice placed against the back of my neck in some sort of stoner triage and first aide.
     Once the non chemically enhanced ( I assumed) paramedics arrived I was immediately placed on a back-board and then duct taped to it. Immediately after taping my broken, bleeding, long-haired head to the board it was discovered that I hadn't been fitted with a neck brace. The placing of which required, you guessed it, the removal of the 3, count 'em, 3 wraps of very sticky tape from around my very, very, hairy head. 'Yeah, it's okay, dude. The pain from my broken bones, bruised ribs, torn ligaments, and the 6 inch gash in my skull will just drown that out.'
     It didn't.

     I read somewhere that paramedics, at least the ones who are also firemen, have to, as part of their training, carry a 150 pound manikin either 50 or 100 feet to pass their test. So with three of them there, theoretically they should have been able to lift an NFL offensive lineman in full gear at least as far as the gurney 2 feet away from their supine victim. I weigh somewhere between 240 and 250 pounds. Should be nooooo problem, right? I got a harmonized grunt, a jostle and then dropped from a height of about 4 inches off the tarmac. Ouch. At that point I was glad they'd ripped out hunks of my hair to put on the neck brace. Not only could the limp-noodle brigade not lift me to the gurney, they also required help getting the damned thing up in the raised position, and then called the guys back to help them get it into the ambulance. I was starting to become concerned with the fitness of the Florida Health Care System.
     I don't know if any of you have had a Concussive Brain Injury but on the trip to the hospital the medic asks a series of very basic questions that, if I hadn't been about half groggy, would have annoyed the hell out of me. You know; Name?, Birthday? Address? Date? Do you remember how you got hurt?' (Yeah, I took a gainer off a loading dock and only got a '3' from the Russian judge.) I answered all his questions, growing less muddle-headed and more annoyed the whole time. Until he asked me what day of the week it was. 'Uhhhhh....' Was my response. I just couldn't remember. It was bugging me more and more as the 20 minute trip went on. I was really getting anxious about that damned stupid question, even though it isn't all that unusual for me not to know the day of the week at any given time. When we reached the hospital and the guy opened the back door I raised my head the little I could and yelled, 'WAIT!!!' He rushed back to my side, 'What's wrong?' he asked, beginning to become frightened. 'It's Tuesday.' I said, portentously, and relaxed my head back down on the board. 'Yes... yes it is.' he gritted through his teeth. Then he bent his head close, looked me in the eye and growled, 'Don't ever fucking do that to me again.' What was his problem? I mean, he asked... didn't he?
    Another cool thing about head injuries... No, and I mean absolutely NO pain killers. So after X-rays and slings (no arrows) and being jostled around for about an hour it came time to 'take care of' that little bleeding problem at the crown of my head. Sans-anesthesia.  I was beginning to regret that I wasn't a stoner.
   The Doc (the guy was just not dignified enough to call him Doctor) rolled up on his stool, looked me in the eye and said calmly, 'I need you to promise me something.' I placed my working hand to my chest, 'Doctor, we've only just met.' He chuckled a bit and then resumed his serious expression. 'I really need to to promise me something.' I waited for more. And waited. 'What?' I finally said. 'I need you to promise before I tell you what it is.' 'Uh huh... that crap didn't even work for my mom when I was 6, dude.' His earnestness eventually wore me down and I made the promise. 'I need for you not to hit me.' I was confused. 'Well.... I have to put these 9 staples in your head, and I'd rather not end up a patient here to do it.' That was when it occurred to me that he was going to be shoving 3/4 of a dozen small lengths of steel into my delicate (but still manly) skin without even the benefit of an aspirin. I was really regretting not being a stoner at that point. But all I did was nod my head, grab one of the side rails of the bed, turn my head and say, 'Let's get on with this.'
     The bright side was, I got to keep my hair. And that was the only bright side. After fiddling with my skull-covering for a moment... CHUNK!!! I grunted in pain and gripped the bar harder. Some more fiddling... CHUNK!! If only I hadn't promised, I'd be beating the hell out of him with my one good hand right now. Twice more huge surgical steel pylons were driven into my cranium.... then nothing. I opened one eye and peered back at the doctor. 'What the hell are you waiting for?' I growled. He seemed to be fascinated with my right hand. He shook himself, looked at me, and said, 'Are you okay?' I wanted to throttle him. Other than that I was just peachy. 'I'm fine, let's just get on with this, okay?' He kept glancing between my eyes and my hand, nervously licking his lips a couple times. Then he nodded, 'Let's get this done.' I finally looked down at my hand grasping the bar. I had bent the 1 inch diameter pipe about 2 inches in a direct line, now that I think about it, between that pipe and his jaw.
     CHUNKchunkchunkchunkchunk!!! Suddenly this guy was Machine Gun Kelly with the medical staples. 'Okay, we're done!' as he pushed himself back, the little steel wheels on his stool squeaking as he flung himself across the floor. I sloooowly unlocked my fingers. They were definitely going to have to replace that, I thought, looking at the bowed metal. I grinned fiercely at the quivering Medico, 'It's a good thing I promised, isn't it?' He gulped.
    I went home and scared the hell out of my room-mates, and also my wife when she got off work. You know, on account of me looking like I'd spent the day playing in traffic... angry traffic. The next
day when I got back from the Osteopath, where I'd been having fun holding 50 pounds of sandbags with my bad arm so they could get good X-rays of my broken shoulder, I got a phone call from the hospital; They had noticed something in the MRI and could I come to the Emergency Room to talk about it. No, they wouldn't discuss it on the phone. It was dire enough that it could only be resolved by a personal visit. Well, I couldn't get there until the next day, so if it's one of those 24 hour Death-Virus things, I was completely out of luck. 'I'm sorry, sir, we can't talk about patient information over the phone.' Fuck. 'I guess the rest of this conversation is completely worthless then, huh?'
 'That's fine, sir, we'll see you tomorrow then?' Oh great! I'm so doomed. There's no treatment or cure, nothing they can do for me, so another half a day won't make any difference. Brain injuries make you paranoid... did I tell you that?
    After a further 14 hours of imagined brain tumors and cranial defects and depression over my lack of anything to actually put in a Will, I was once again facing the doctor who had so cleverly avoided getting beaten by me just 36 hours before. 'You've broken a tiny bone in your face, it's cut a sinus and we need to give you antibiotics to prevent infection.' I stared at him in amazement. 'That's it? Y'all scared the crap out of me for a sinus infection?' You know how when you've been really scared, you get mad when you should be relieved? I looked at him and grinned (it wasn't a nice grin)'You didn't make me promise not to hit you this time.' He laughed. He quickly stopped laughing when he looked at my face. 'I'll just go get the antibiotics.' he said as he turned and disappeared out of the room. Chicken. He even made a nurse come back with the drugs to keep out of arms reach of me, I guess. Hell, I only had one that worked. What was he afraid of? A sudden case of Bent Bedrail Syndrome?
   I would normally take this space to make some parallel between these stories about me and some event/detail of or in Dude's life. Nope. Not this time. Me, me, me, me, me, me, me. Mine, mine mine! I'm a happy miser! (Daffy Duck reference) One other thing about 2 in the morning.... It doesn't have to make sense.

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