Friday, November 21, 2003

Small Crevasse 

They played 8 Mile today, and they were wrong. Even though I wasn't registering or getting a physical, it took just as long as Wednesday. And I even arrived a little earlier.

The waiting room was cold. Brisk-cold. Pull-down-your-sleeves-cold. After a round, short guy walked in, none of us could hear the movie anymore because he kept laughing about, "Love never made a man do good! Love only make a man do bad!" Someone disagreed with this wisdom as Rabbit threw down the challenge.

When called, we had to wait outside the waiting room.

"You know why we out here t'day, don't you?" she asked me. "Nope," I said. "Because some stupid woman stole someone social security number in here yesterday and stole they twenty-five dollars. Twenty-five dollars. Can you believe that? Now we standin' here like fools."

After they called us in, we continued a conversation about Michael Jackson. "Oh, he guilty! Damn that never-never land and that monkey and the zoos and the rides! Tha's for kids! What the hell Michael Jackson doin' with all them kids? Turnin' black to white, nose fallin' off. Shit!"

"Yeah," I answered. "What the hell happened to that monkey that was in his videos?"

"Shit, he probably sexually 'ssaulted the monkey."

Sister Jean didn't go along with all this Michael-bashing. "Any time we get someone any success, we go 'n tear 'em down."

It was three-fourths of the way through Saving Private Ryan now, getting to that scene that everyone hates . . . the German with the knife . . . Eliot from E.T. too frightened to help. And the new tech comes over after his boss realizes my machine has finished. This new tech, who just got finished describing the use of the word "teabag" as a verb to the woman next to me, was cutting off the blood in the tubes while he removed the needle. I could tell he was new because he didn't just rip off the tape from my arms -- he tore it slowly, conscious of my arm hair, yet seemingly unaware that this action actually prolonged the pain. When he pulled the needle out, his face clenched a bit from concentration, I felt a little rip in my arm.

I pressed the cottonball against the hole, and he took everything away, throwing out the used tubes and tape. I sat pressing the cotton, holding my arm up above my chest. After a while I noticed a woman who finished ahead of me walk forward and wash her arm. I moved to where she was to get a band-aid, and my head became glassy and dense. The sounds of the room projected toward me, as though through a megaphone. I shook my head quickly, but that didn't help. So I focused on a spot on the floor; my vision didn't blur further. But I was sweating now, and cold again. And after taking a step forward, decided I should sit down. So I turned around and sat. The grunting guy from Wednesday saw me shaking my head, and then everyone was looking at me. There was an ice pack and a doctor and a cup of Gatorade and lots of questions.

Today I learned: coffee dehydrates.

When I was sitting up again the doctor looked at me very suspiciously, but it was fine. I looked down at my arm, and instead of the tiny hole like on my other arm from Wednesday, there was this small crevice of split skin from the needle. After a couple band-aids were applied, I walked to the lobby to get my cash card. A man still waiting offered me his water bottle. Apparently they had all noticed. And I thought, "How nice." I am, at times, the only white guy in there, so everyone tends to leave me alone, but it turns out they didn't ignore me.

I'm drinking a lot of water right now, but my mouth is still dry. I know that, when running, if I get into a groove, I spit a lot. I still have to run today.

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