Our own Frank Babies has a unique avant-garde style to his writing, and we love it. We hope you do as well. Check out his story below as he describes "how to lose a toe in 10 days."
Picture an idyllic summer cresting just over the horizon. Last minute final papers hastily dashed off and just as hastily returned. (is that a Sauvignon Blanc stain under the sentence fragment of feedback? Did the professor think my name was “Hank” the whole semester?) The specter of summer jobs lingers. Craigslist want-ads are perused. Lots of scam opportunities notable by the headline “NOT A SCAM” Some dude wants to meet hard working male high school graduates in his shed for “shed work”.
Still, I have my own gig. I mow lawns. Or, more aptly, I mow my own lawn. I don’t edge. I don’t sweep. But I mow and mow well. So well that a neighbor mounted my steps in the middle of my craft, so awed by my handiwork that he contracted me to take on two additional lawns. Suddenly I’m a true-blue, boot-strap pulling entrepreneur. Granted, I don’t know that this contract would hold up in court as I was dehydrated and my newfound employer may have cataracts. However, it was sealed by that old man handshake, you know the one, inches lost to the osteo be damned, he’ll just as soon loosen your front teeth as do whatever one does when winning shuffleboard (running the shuffleboard-board?) if you dare break the terms of said agreement. With that my passion, my craft, my muse, starts casually being referred to as my “hustle”. Hubris, dear readers, hubris incarnate sat atop a throne of grass clippings.
Days pass. Clouds gather. A train crashes into a trash truck and explodes in South Baltimore because that’s what goes on in South Baltimore. Financial Aid calls, the Registration Office calls. Would I care to start paying my tuition from six months ago? Do I plan on taking the seemingly contradictory titled “Business Ethics” class in hopes of graduating sometime before my mid-fifties? Rain falls. Tornadoes touch down. T.V. Weathermen stutter through unprecedented chunks of airtime on the local news. I wave all this of away with hand adorned by dandelion rings. No matter. Summer is coming.
Then tragedy strikes.
My Ipod’s screen goes blank. Confusion ensues. Am I to jam to Yeezus or Jeezy, Kitty Pryde or Cat Power? Two Door Cinema Club, Three Doors Down and Tokyo Police Club meld into one amalgamous hive of tonality. Yet the skies have cleared. The ground is fertile and I go to work as its contraception. The gas tank is filled. ASAP Rocky or Aesop Rock is plugged into ears. The engine is primed. My undoing starts without incident. Perhaps the ground was slipperier or muddier than usual. Perhaps there was a second shooter in Dallas. Perhaps I could learn to communicate healthier in relationships. Leave the revisionist history to Bill O’Reilly.
I arrive at the hill on my front lawn. Alternating lowering the mower halfway down with my left and right arms I imagine the power-walking middle aged women describing each as “knotted with muscle” to their decidedly sedentary husbands upon arriving home. I descend the terrace behind my beloved, trustworthy, ever-faithful mower. What happens next I cannot be sure. I know there is another man across the street edging his lawn. “Noob,” I thought. Then I thought a series of words unsuitable for this forum. Something had gone very awry by the time I reached the sidewalk.
My Nike was shredded straight across. Yet I am the king of near-misses. I once exclaimed “I am Teflon” to an unimpressed passenger after I backed into a parked vehicle with no damage. I like to think she didn’t get the reference, but she probably wished I would stop driving her car into stationary objects. I stared at my shredded shoe for awhile “So I ruined a shoe. There are other shoes, although this shoe paired particularly well with blue jeans.” Pain? Sure, there was pain, searing white pain, but there were also ten some odd years backlogged of GQ issues concerned about the state of my sneakers doing battle for control of my hypothalamus, or whatever. That is when blood started to pool on the concrete, swirling weeds and dirt while reflecting an indifferent, Saturday-Morning-Cartoon-Smiling sun.
In movies bloodshed is heroic. The action star says something like "you drive" and drags himself into the passenger's side looking all gassy and holding his stomach, but the busty scientist/astronaut/up-until-now kidnappee' pulls his hands away revealing a gaping bloody hole. "Just drive," he says, "we've got to get you back to the aquarium before they get a hold of the pool skimmers."
That's pretty much what happened to me. Dolphins intact, marauders brought to justice Shamu style. On a side note, did you know that SeaWorld keeps like five Shamus on call* at any moment? Occasionally a few of them engage in a tussle for dominance known in the scientific community as a "Shamboozle". If Bro Council's formatting allowed for footnotes I'd totally cite all the scholarly journals that I'm drawing upon for all this knowledge that I'm passing onto you. Really, I feel as if knowledge is marrow, I'm a syringe, and you, fair readers, are the orderlies who have to pick up all the shattered pieces of me after I drop me on the floor (which is also me for some reason). And since you are chronically absent-minded, you forget your gloves and are infected with the disease of enlightenment. You're welcome.
Anyway, I was standing on the sidewalk next to a lawn mower. And I was bleeding.
I did what any reasonable adult would do; I yelled for my father. "Dad!" I yelled. This received no response, so I changed my strategy. "Daad!" I wailed. The guy across the street went on along whacking his weeds, all cocky. Suddenly he didn't seem like such a noob. One of us was operating his piece of lawn tending equipment in the manner intended. And the other was doubled over next to it, screaming. Here's the thing - my family runs all the appliances all in the house at full volume, all the time. If said appliance doesn't have a volume feature, someone breaks it until it makes a noise. So I limped up two flights of steps while considering collapsing and bashing up my skull to make the scene more tragic and less, y'know, Rob Schneider in an Adam Sandler movie. Upon entering the house my father greeted me, took note of the situation, and then started yelling at me. Then he helped me take my shoe off and gave me a napkin. This was shortly before father's day and it is surely a moment that we will remember fondly for years to come. Napkin and Stump. Father and Son.
My mother appeared and offered a sheet, which while not ideal, was preferable to the napkin. She kept telling me to sit down, but I refused. I had this persistent notion that if I sat, never again would I rise. I'd die right there on the couch. Or someone would have to fish me out with a crane like a morbidly obese man on the Maury show. This logic totally follows - if one suffers a traumatic foot injury keep him standing for as long as possible. In fact, consider having him try to moonwalk. Levity is always crucial in recovery, and life. Levity and Dance; that's our family crest. Oh, and I did ask for a glass of cool water. I'm not an idiot.
So, we loaded up the ol' family SUV like we heading out for a guys' day at the lake - me, my dad, my bloody sheet, my glass of water, and my sock ,which I held onto thinking it may contain a portion of one or more my toes, but was saving as a surprise. I've never had a guys' day at the lake, but I presume it involves all these things and maybe one of those weird hats with fishing tackle attached and probably some talk of investing wisely and marrying a girl within the same religion. My dad did offer some words of encouragement along the lines of "It's probably not that bad" or, alternatively, "how bad do you think it is?" before patting me on the back as I wheezed convulsively into my rapidly crimsoning bed sheet.
People complain about healthcare and understaffed ER rooms. And those people are angry people. And they have the internet and Facebook, and on their Facebook pages they have pictures of politicians making mean faces and have lots of quotes from nobody in particular going on about "taking our rights", and they have that stupid Guy Fawkes mask from V for Vendetta as their profile picture, because they have bad skin from wearing stupid masks all the time. If you want swift admittance to an Emergency Room here's a lifehack (Yeah, I said that. I talk like that all the time - lifehack, tablet, interface, connectivity, meta, workspace, iOS, firmware upgrade, meme, meme meme - come at me bro!). Your tip is this; get wheeled in by a guy who looks like a pissed off in-shape Santa Claus clutching a child's bed sheet drenched in blood. Do that, or don't complain.
*Note "Five Shamus on Call" is my intellectual property and if I choose to license it to one of those terrible Irish Punk-Folk Revival bands, don't let me.
I have a few confessions. Firstly, Katie Couric was just on TV and explained to me that she used to sleep with a pillow between her legs to relieve back pain while she was pregnant. I do the same thing. So what I'm saying is that I am pregnant with Katie Couric. Not as in together. As in she is in my womb and I will birth her and hopefully, y'know, she'll land on her feet.
Secondly, when I conceived of this article the jumping off point was, like, a sort of weak play on the title of a movie I've never seen. I think it was about a girl leaving some sort of feminine accoutrement at her boyfriend's apartment and, predictably, he went on a particularly gruesome child killing spree because he wouldn't be able to watch the sports with the boys, as we guys are known to do. That, and my estimated recovery time of ten days which I would record here in earnest. Herein lies the rub; everything happened the first day and the remaining nine have been spent "taking it easy" under a myriad of pain and mind dulling medication. Also problematic is that I may or may not have been in some state of shock during much of the goings-on.
So let's shake off this poorly thought-out conceit and go for a more organic, flash fiction-y, net friendly, Tumblr accessible, bullet point format of what I think I know. Maybe just a series of sepia filtered pictures of skylines with some quasi-inspirational quotes thrown in artsy cursive handwriting to express my experience. "Your heart only breaks to make room for someone else to move in." That's good. I'm keeping it. Step off, 12 year old girls and weird 40 year old divorcées. It's over. Stop playing Aquarium Bubble City and commenting on your niece's cleavage heavy pics."Runs in the family." Weirding everyone out.
- My toe wasn't in my sock. It was on the sidewalk. My dad found it and handed it off with alarmingly little concern to some person who may or may not have worked at the hospital.
- It wasn't my whole toe. Just a piece. Clipping my toenail won't be much of a problem anymore. So I can eliminate all those pedicures from the budget. Maybe little Katie will be able to afford college after all. (She's in my womb awaiting birth in case you started reading in the middle of the page like a dummy with space perception problems.)
- I was initially given the painkiller/sedative Dilaudid which noted popstar Michael Jackson overdosed on around this time some three years ago. I considered mentioning this to my father but I figured it might have been disconcerting, plus Jeopardy was on.
- During Double Jeopardy something happened, a gauze mishap of some sort, and blood started flowing from the bed and onto the floor. It seemed to strike my father and the hospital staff as something gruesome to be addressed. Personally, I was in my Ken Jennings zone, as well as on King of Pop Drugs.
- I was wheeled around a lot in a gurney. People kept wanting to prop me up as opposed to have me lying prone. This didn't interest me. Being rolled around the hospital in a cloth gown with strings upright did not give me any real increased sense of purpose and independence.
- Many of these same people also kept asking me what kind of shoes I was wearing at the time. This struck me as a sort of an ambiguous question. Technically I was wearing Low Cut Nike SB's. But say I had chosen to rock some Sambas that day, I think once one sticks one's foot under a running lawn mower aesthetic choices are sort of moot. (I don't really know what moot means.)
- In surgery I was asked what kind of music I liked. Blitzed on painkillers and blood loss I scrambled and answered "Rock and Roll". When pressed I mentioned the White Stripes. Next thing I knew their Pandora Channel was pulled up. I'm assuming this will run me around $6,500. I listened to "Icky Thump" while they took power tools to my foot. I should have forced them to listen to my personalized Creed/Insane Clown Posse playlist.
- My antibiotics stink. Like literally smell unappealing. I'm assuming it's to keep vampires away from my toe. Because even before this all happened I had a whole issue with that.
- My foot doctor is great. So if you have a callous, gross, but also - I know a guy.
- I think the majority of his job is getting the assorted elderly out of his office before they launch into some story that has no discernible beginning or ending but inevitably involves ungrateful grandchildren.
- I was at a bar in my orthopedic boot the other day, and there was another dude on crutches. I tried to compare battle wounds and somehow it nearly devolved into the most pathetic scuffle World Star Hip Hop would have ever posted.
- My pug has grown rotund during this tragedy either because I haven't been able to walk her or, perhaps, sympathy weight for baby Kate.
In conclusion, what have I learned?
- I am a hero and should never labor like a commoner again.
- Obviously I am fragile. Like all the greats.
- Feel free to pass my story onto anyone going through some dark times and may be in need of a little inspiration.
- I'm like that scary woman trainer with the big shoulders on The Biggest Loser. Sans toe.
That's exactly what I'm like.