September 1976 - Give me a brake, please. I'm just a guy.
Most people might think that women are the emotional sex. When it comes to driving this might be true, as long as they are not compared to men. From the minute a guy sees a car that he likes (and begins to drool), to the moment he presses his foot on the accelerator, it's all about ego and emotions. Statistics show that males between the ages of 16 and 25 are twice as likely to be involved in a traffic accident as compared to their female counterparts. Attribute it to hormonal differences or alcohol consumption, but the numbers are pretty clear. Since auto-time began, men have been the definite winners (or should I say losers) in this particular contest.
Let me start my story by saying, if you have not properly been trained and licensed, you should not be behind the wheel. By the time I was twenty-two, having a partner who knew how to drive (and I didn't), made me feel like it couldn't be that difficult. Within the coming months, I was forced to change my mind.
Having my now ex-wife teach me how to drive, should have made me very knowledgeable in the ways of the wheel but even with her expert tutor-ledge, I had failed the road test twice. Being the male that I was, I was feeling more and more comfortable while driving and growing steadily impatient. After all, I had been practicing for months and the wealth of knowledge that I had amassed, had made me feel like a real driver. Of course, knowledge does not give you wisdom, which I was about to learn.
Men. Do not do what I am about to tell you if you happen to work on the same job site as your wife. It could cause marital discord.
It was lunchtime and I knew that I wasn't supposed to be in a vehicle without a licensed driver but what could be the harm of a quick spin. Our Volkswagen Bug was eagerly waiting to be driven and was sitting in the adjoining parking lot. I took my before-mentioned amassed knowledge and carefully moved the car out of the parking lot. I drove around the block and was feeling very proud of myself as I saw the approaching fence opening of the lot which I had just drove out of a few minutes prior. I was making the right as I was driving up the curb but there was a car parked just outside the fence parked at an odd angle. Not having the experience to judge the distance of the surrounding parked cars, I wound up sticking my front bumper under the rear bumper of this big, ugly 1975 Chevy Laguna.
I got out of the Bug to inspect the situation and realized that that I did not know what to do next. Should I reverse my car and take the chance of ripping off his (or my) bumper? As I stood there, I began to sweat bullets. The few people passing did not seem to recognize that there was a dilemma but what if a policeman came by. I had no license and nothing on me to prove that the car was mine.
I bounced on the hood of the VW but the two cars just moved up and down together. I found it hard to nonchalantly dislodge two cars and now one or two people passing were slowing to take a look. I tried not to pay attention to them and got back into my car. As I twice attempted to move backwards, my bug wasn't budging. The Laguna made a loud creaking noise, each time I tried the maneuver. It's like the thing was trying to hold me there, while it mockingly laughed at me. The people that were just walking around me were now slowing to take a second look. I said a prayer, hit the clutch, put the stick shift in reverse and the slowly gave it gas.
To my amazement, we dislodged. With what felt like a nerve-wrenching inch at a time, I carefully backed up the Bug, drove into the lot and then placed my car back in the original parking space that was still vacant. I hadn't even thought about how it would be explained to my mate that the car had been moved a few parking spaces if the Bug wasn't in the same spot.
I shakily locked the car and then found my way into the job. As I calmed down, I felt as if no harm had been done and I swore that that something similar would never happen again. What I didn't realize was that as minor as the occurrence was, that had been my first automobile accident. I didn't even know that I was leaving the scene of a crime. Nor did it understand how this event would have interfered with my chances of getting a driver's license. For the first time (in terms of driving anyway), my male ego had led me down the wrong path and it wouldn't be the last. Big ego, Little brains.
To be continued.......
April 1994 - I Want To Hold Your Hand
Being blessed with two wonderful and healthy daughters helped me to appreciate how fragile and precious life is. Being blessed with two daughters that actually listened to what I had to say is where the second miracle occurred. They were growing up with no problems (well, few anyway) and were always respectful of adults. It was hard to hear stories of how many issues occurred between other parents and their children. Sometimes, a bit of love and understanding can make a world of difference in the child's future. This is my simple story of how I found that to be true.
When my youngest daughter was about six years old, she and I went on a trip to the Museum of Natural History with a few of the classes from her school. Myself and the other parents were the extra staffs who were watching over the little darlings. The bus ride to the museum was happy and conversational and I felt like the world's greatest dad being able to participate in this part of my child's life. Little did I know that the party would be a bit different than expected.
Soon after we arrived at the museum, we broke up into groups of five kids, a parent and a teacher. In addition to my lovely daughter and three other adorable children, I had been selected to watch over a five-year old boy who had more energy than all the other children combined. For the sake of clarity, let’s call the little guy Charlie.
As my group walked pass the bull elephants of North America, Charlie made it clear that his curiosity was more important to him than his safety. I was helping my daughter to read the nearby plague when I realized that he was trying to see if the pachyderms were real. I lifted him back over to our side of the guardrail and explained to him why his actions were not appropriate. He looked up at me with a huge grin, shook his head and gave me a big "Okay." It was obvious that he was not taking me seriously. I was glad that he was safe and we walked on.
The well-informed teacher in our group recited amazing details about the 94-foot long, 21,000 lb. female blue whale, as we walked underneath. All of the kids were attentively listening, that is, except for Charlie who thought it would be more entertaining to run around in circles, as he made airplane noises. I found myself chasing him instead of assisting with the other kids. This time, I let him know that ice cream would be waiting for him if he settled down. The thought of it did calm him for a short while but my reminding him soon made little difference.
We made our way up to the second floor, to the South African section. My attempts to slow him down by holding his hand only made him quickly pull away in order to get loose. My smooth talking and bribery were not working. Frustration was rising. I'd hardly said two words to my own daughter. She seemed to be having fun with the other kids but this was not how I had planned to spend the day.
As we grew closer to the assortment of antelopes that seemed to raise their heads as we approached, the devil's spawn (sorry, Charlie) announced that he was going back downstairs to see the whale. I was by now fed up and I resorted to a tactic that I never had to use with my kids. I told him that I was going to hold his hand and that he was going to stay with me, like it or not. He laughed as I took his hand but stopped laughing when he realized that I wasn't letting go. For the first five minutes, he squirmed and complained but I would not release my grip. As we continued to walk with group, he slowly calmed.
After a half-hour of peace and quiet, I was feeling stunned but tried not to show it. I even let his hand go as a test and he actually took it back. This shocked the crap out of me but I was happy that my reasoning had worked. Seemed like he just needed someone to do what they said they would, meaning stricter rules, promises being kept and all that. For the rest of the afternoon, he stayed at my side and followed my directions. Charlie turned out to be a nice kid (at least, as long as he was with me, anyway).
11-22-63 by Stephen King is an amazing book. In spite of its length (866 pages), King’s diverse plot is maintained by the strength of the main character, Jake.
The book is a time-travel story about Kyle being persuaded to find his way back to the year 1958. Once there, his goal is to establish himself, collect information and then do everything in his power to prevent John F. Kennedy from being assassinated on November 22, 1963. Of course, all instances of time-travel must be subject to things changing. The number of “strings” involved could either cause differences by a “residue” effect or cause things to be recognized as familiar because of a sense of “harmony.” This may sound a bit confusing but King has set up a world where the reader is comfortable slipping in and out of time where these terms and many others are commonplace.
As years roll by, there will always be the possibility of falling in love. When a tender and very real interaction develops between Kyle and a teacher he meets named Sadie, I will only say that because of my own personal experiences, I was eventually brought to tears. To me, this love story deeply added to the mix and also places the book under the romance novel category.
Because the book was so very long, I was immensely curious about how King would bring the story to a close. The conclusion was so immensely satisfying that as soon as I finished, I began to make phone calls to recommend that friends give the book a read as soon as possible. I definitely give 11-22-63 five out of five stars.
October 1984 - The Pain Isn't Over 'Til It's Over
After my minor (major) surgery, I was very happy to be lazing around in bed. The insidious bump had been cut away. All that was left was a one-inch scar, which hopefully would not be visible, once my pubic hair grew back in.
The warm quilt gently grabbed my side and helped me to sleep through the afternoon. My wife took the evening shift, watching over my recovery and my dear mother-in-law made certain that I was comfortable through the daytime. But as the days of my one-week convalescence rolled by, there began to be a problem. I was feeling better and I wanted to get up and move around. Peeing sideways into a bowl was getting old and I was beginning to feel helpless. I craved for the adventure of fully using the bathroom on my own.
It was about the fourth day and my mother-in-law was away in the kitchen making me lunch. I had made the decision that I was going to take my first baby steps. I removed the blanket from my left side and slowly slid my leg towards the edge of the bed. Everything went well until my left leg was hovering off the side of the bed.
The pain began at the point of the bandaged incision and then hit me like forked lightning, making a path throughout my torso. I used my left arm to push my leg back to the mattress and I finally had relief. It was now obvious. I could not do this by myself. I decided to wait for the evening shift so my wife could lift my leg, lower it to the floor and then assist me in hobbling to the warm, awaiting bowl, which actually, was only a few steps down the hall.
About two weeks later, I felt totally healed and things seemed to be returning to normal. I was finally able to get around the apartment on my own. I had learned to be cautious with my movements because slight pangs of pain would bring me back to reality. I had come to terms with not moving my mid-section more than I had to. The thought of going back to doing my regular exercise routine, which included sit-ups, made me nervous, so at this point, slow was good for now.
My brother was having a birthday party and we all piled into the car that glorious Sunday morning. Getting in and out of the passenger seat was still a chore for me but as long as I balanced my weight away from the delicate area, it seemed workable. Once we reached our destination, my wife got out and was unbuckling our one-year old from the car seat. I had just opened my door to get out, when the unspeakable happened.
The cool air that rushed in as the door opened had tickled the hairs of my nose. I gave out a really hard sneeze and suddenly my world felt like it was coming to an end. The only way I can describe it was that the doctor was again making the first cut and he was ripping his way up to my brain. Another sneeze was coming which I was trying desperately to muffle. My feigned attempt to stop this action only caused a second jolt of pain.
As I sat there seeing stars, I cried out loud:
"I've done it now! I've busted the stitches wide open! I've got to go back to the hospital!"
My wife walked over to my side of the car with our sleeping daughter in hand and leaned into the open door. Strangely enough, she had more perspective in these matters than I did. She had spent the past few weeks listening to me trying not to complain about my condition.
"Want me to call your brother out here to give you a hand?" she patiently asked.
The thought of my brother and who knows how many curious onlookers coming to the car, helped to calm me a bit. I realized that I was sore but the pain was going away. I guess my post-hernial incision had reacted to the sneeze, the same as if I had tried to do a sit-up. It was too soon for that type of pressure. Apparently, the muscles down there wanted to work together but they weren't finished healing yet.
It's been many years since that day and I've learned my lesson in terms of not straining myself. I love to exercise and I've learned how to pace myself. Even Superman has his limits.
October 1984 - Surviving Embarrassment
I arrived at the doctor's office in pain but with an ever-increasing hope that soon I'd be on the course to feeling better. Little did I know that I'd have to first face some primal embarrassments.
It was when a nurse led me to Doctor Urologist's examination room that I saw it. I truly believed that only the female gender used those spread-em-wide stirrups that were connected to the foot of the table. As I changed into a hospital gown, I slowly realized this not to be the case. Dr. U instructed me to lie down and put my legs up in the holsters. I understood that this was necessary so that a thorough examination could be performed but I was also pretty sure it was also to convenience the doctor. As he worked, the Doc let me know that there were many different types of hernias and that they could also occur in newborns or the elderly, be they male or female. I zoned out on the details of other kinds of hernia. I just wanted to know what was next in store for me and not a baby. I wonder if the mention of baby hernia was some kind of snide joke on his part? Naa. Couldn't be.
After the doctor was finished (thank God), I finally sat in his other office. Dr. U confirmed that I had an inguinal hernia and that a simple surgery would be necessary in order to repair it. He said, with a smile, that the bowel that was pushing through the membrane was reducible (or could be pushed back in place). In any case, surgery would be repaired. But if the hernia had been irreducible and couldn't be pushed back in place, then say a prayer. This could have turned into a medical emergency since the blood supply would have been choked off to that area. The development of dead or gangrenous bowel is possible in as little as six hours. In other words, there was the possibility that had I waited a much longer time, before getting it taken care of, it might have killed me. That would have made for a bad day, so I agreed to the procedure.
About two days later, I'm sitting in a hospital bed, waiting to see what happens next. A pretty nurse told me that I would have to be shaved down there as a precaution against infection. I was about to jokingly say that I was a happily married man when the male nurse entered the room with the foam and blade. Isn't there some kind of rule that a female nurse is supposed to be handling the equipment? I guess not. At least the guy was professional and after a few uncomfortable minutes, I was now as bald as the day I was born.
After being given some pre-op medication, I was placed on a gurney. Someone wheeled me out of my room and I looked up as the lights overhead crawled along the ceiling. I was describing this to the nurse who was rolling next to me, but I was mostly hoping that I was making some kind of sense.
Once in the operating room, I was told by Doc U that I would be given gas and to please count backwards from one hundred. I think I got to ninety-eight. I soon wished that that were all I could remember. Even though the merry-go-round was spinning, with me on it, I felt what could only be described as a dull tugging in the surgical area. I moaned a bit, hoping that the volunteer worker that administered the anesthesia understood that I was trying to say, "Hey numb-nut, I'm awake. I can feel that!" It seemed that he understood because a needle was soon placed in my IV and suddenly my trip to the circus became happy again.
When I finally woke, I found myself bandaged up. I was curious about the incision but I was pretty sore so I decided not to move much. My hope was that after the surgery, I would be a much happier camper but I was not aware that a brand new kind of pain was on the way.
To be continued...
The greatest happiness you can feel is when you share with someone you love.