So we’ve had an interesting week. We had houseguests for a couple of days last week. It was unusual in a few respects, mostly in that I not only enjoyed the visit, (with an obvious exception that I’ll get to in just a minute) but I was even sad to see them leave. I’m not able to state with certainty that THEY weren’t happy to leave, however. What I CAN state with absolute certainty is that this visit made a lasting impression; a very lasting impression.
But first, allow me to familiarize you with the principal cast members of our little drama.
First we have Alan. We’ve known each other since we were both 21 years old and that was, well, let’s just say he’s known me for a long time. He’s the brother I never realized I had, complete with the ability to irritate me to the point where I actually start wondering how many times I can back over him with my car and still make it look like an accident. Ours is a friendship based primarily on practical jokes and annoying each other; like siblings, but better because if we ever really tick each other off our parents aren’t put in the awkward position of taking sides.
Alan is married to Veronica. She is one of those people that are so sweet and kind that it ought to be obnoxious somehow and you’re not entirely sure why you don’t absolutely hate her, or why you don’t at the very least get nauseated by her unrelenting sweetness and yet you just can’t because that would be wrong and wrong things don’t happen around Veronica. Well, they do sometimes but they shouldn't.
Our next character is Veronica’s sister Charlotte. Charlotte is in many ways like her sister with the added bonus of being totally willing to do pretty much anything on a dare including spending an entire evening at the mall while wearing a tiara just to see if anyone notices. (Conclusion: Yes. Many people noticed. At least as far as I could see from my vantage point far, far away.)
So the other day, Son and I went with Alan, Veronica, their young son and Charlotte at the mall. Alan took the boys off to do “man stuff.” (Don’t ask. I didn’t want to know and you probably don’t either.) Veronica, Charlotte and I happily headed off to one of our favorite stores, Bath and Body Works.
And I was happy. I really was. This is a GREAT store, one from which I usually emerge with at least 14 different fragrances sprayed somewhere on my person so that I can really no longer distinguish the difference between, say, Japanese Cherry Blossom and Nachos and Orange Julius From the Food Court. It is a happy, happy place. And so, there we were, Veronica, Charlotte and I, being happy, sampling different lotions and scrubs and other wondrous things. Veronica was there on a mission to find a new fragrance and by George, as her friend I was going to help. And so it was that we were standing together with open bottles and tubes of lotion trying to find a fragrance she liked. I very innocently held out a bottle, indicating that I would graciously hold it for her while she sniffed because I’m helpful that way. But no, Veronica had to get all jumpy and suspicious as if I, of all people, might try something ridiculous and juvenile. And I’d be really hurt by her suspicions if it weren’t for the fact that, well, she knows me.
Honestly, though, I SWEAR I really was planning on just holding it. But when she looked at me with mild concern, you know, sort of like a security guard might look at you as you try to cart a rifle and a wood chipper through an airport terminal, I was overcome by an irresistible temptation. I didn’t mean to do anything really bad. Really. I was just going to squeeze ever so gently and leave a teeny, tiny dab of lotion on the tip of her nose. So you see it was all very innocent, really. How was I supposed to know that huge great globs of gloop would come squirting out? I have at LEAST a dozen of these very same lotion bottles at home right now. I use this stuff DAILY. MANY TIMES DAILY. AND THIS NEVER HAPPENS. But this time it did.
And so, I very quickly set the bottle down and in an attempt to avoid being seen by store security, or anyone else for that matter, I tried to just rub the lotion in really quickly. People were doing this all over the store so I thought I could do it without looking too out of place if my friends would just STOP LAUGHING ALREADY. Okay, the other people weren’t frantically rubbing great globs of gloop up and down their arms from shoulder to wrist, but still. It was about then that we realized that the stuff was NOT being absorbed well into my skin, though I’d like to point out that I did manage to rub it in completely. Charlotte, or possibly Veronica pointed out that the reason for this difficulty might be because rather than lotion, this was creamy body wash. They were both laughing, but were kind enough to point me in the direction of a sink where I could presumably wash the stuff off my arms.
Problem: there was some guy at the sink and he wasn’t leaving. I have no idea why he was there, but he was and he looked like he planned to stay for quite some time. I figured I’d just leave the store, walk very briskly to a restroom and remedy the situation there. But my dear friends were laughing too hard at me to listen to the plan. And then I did, I admit it, I did raise both my hands to the surgeon-after-the-washing-of-the-hands position and I did move toward Veronica as if to hug her and transfer some of this stuff to her so that she could share in my predicament. I swear on all I hold dear I wasn't going to touch her. I just wouldn't go that far. Well, Veronica, it turns out, can duck and cover REALLY fast. Not really smoothly, but still, really FAST. She evaded me entirely. She also made a really sickening sort of thudding noise as she smacked her face into the corner of the shelf behind her. She sort of stumbled back in a dazed sort of way. She turned around, looking a bit stunned, with her hands over her forehead. I felt terrible of course but she was laughing. How bad could it be?
So, yes, I was concerned, but not nearly as concerned as I was when she lowered her hands and we saw the blood dripping from her forehead. BLOOD, people. ON HER FOREHEAD. And this was no ordinary little scratch that could be hidden somehow. Oh no. It was sort of a ‘Y’ shaped replica of the corner she’d hit and it was dead center on her forehead. Had she actually paused to take aim, she could not have centered it more accurately.
I got a band-aid from my purse, while Veronica dabbed at the blood with a tissue she got from somewhere. No good. It was bleeding through the band-aid. This was bad. This was very, very bad. She kept assuring us that she was certain she was fine (It's just a flesh wound!) and in fact she thought perhaps her vision was even a tiny bit improved. I was certain she was at the very least concussed, but her sister held a finger up to Veronica’s glasses and stuck it through the space where a lens was supposed to be. Charlotte was somehow able to locate the lens before someone stepped on it and I was later informed that the lens tends to slip out of place from time to time so this wasn’t entirely my fault, but still.
I felt horrible for Veronica, but I confess I was nervous for other reasons. Mostly because Alan? Well, he's a cop. And he has a gun. Also, he has bullets. Probably. So I wasn't real excited by the prospect of finding him and somehow explaining that his wife and I were goofing off and we had somehow managed to break her face and that even though she was protesting that she probably just needed to sit down for a minute, I thought she should probably be seen by someone who could prevent at least some of her blood from leaving her body via the nifty new hole I’d just startled her into poking through her own forehead.
Now, I was very concerned about V. I truly was. I want to make it very clear that my first concern was making certain that she was okay and getting her the medical attention I suspected she would probably need. And all my actions from that point on were to that end. (Fine time to start behaving responsibly, no?)
The guilt. Having any part in hurting Veronica is akin to torturing bunnies and kittens. AT THE SAME TIME! Also? Feeling a little guilty because an ostensibly adult type person really has no business goofing off that way in public. (Probably not in private either, but I can only grow up so much. Sadly my guilt has in no way been assuaged by the fact that I returned and purchased the lotion/creamy body wash bottle I’d inadvertently emptied earlier)
You know that feeling you got as a kid when you had done something really, really bad and you knew there was no way on earth you could possibly hide it because hiding it would only make matters worse and besides medical attention was probably needed so there was really no choice but to confess immediately, and you just knew that when your mom or dad or teacher or Miss Hannigan found out they were going to kill you, or maybe make you mop the floors with all the other orphans and then they’d get mad at you too, but you could avoid a fight if you could just think of a nice song and dance number? Well, I’m sorry to say that though my friend was sitting there BLEEDING, I reverted (from the 8-year old lotion/body wash squirting child) into full-on, five-year-old, I’m-going-to-get-KILLED-for-this mode. And I’m sorrier to say that I had nary one show tune come to mind.
It actually occurred to me that perhaps I could somehow comb her bangs over it all, quickly bid them all a good night and head for the hills before Alan noticed anything amiss. (Hey, Veronica didn’t want to go to the hospital anymore than I did; it could have worked.) But alas, Veronica does not have bangs and she was bleeding rather a lot. Besides, her husband is quite attentive and was almost as likely to realize that his wife was sporting a new Cousin It look as he was to notice the fact that it appeared someone had attempted to carve a swastika with only partial success on his wife’s forehead.
By this point, it was clear that the band-aid wasn't going to work. So we went to find A. We looked every inch the group of responsible adult women as we walked through the mall with Veronica bleeding and protesting that she was just fine, Charlotte in her tiara and me, doing my very best deer-in-the-headlights impression. We found Alan, who remarkably enough has NOT killed me (yet) and after trying to explain, I did what any terrified person would do: I called my mother.
Now before you completely condemn me for this, my mother works for a doctor. She sees wounded people all the time so I was hoping she’d be able to help us. I handed the phone over to Alan and he and Mom decided during a conversation that I’m sure was much shorter than the three days it seemed to take, with much discussion of the location and appearance of the wound, that if Veronica didn’t want a scar she should probably go to the ER.
Meanwhile I was helpfully thinking thoughts like: IT’S DEAD CENTER, MOM. DEEP. BLOOD. LOTS OF BLOOD. LET’S JUST GO RIGHT NOW because I am certainly not one to panic or anything. Then Alan and Veronica debated whether she should go to the ER because Veronica really did NOT want to go. But she is nothing if not a good sport so off we all went anyway, to the emergency room, where Veronica had her head glued back together. And how great was the relief that she didn’t require actual stitches because as reasonable and kind as V is, she really DIDN’T want stitches and there is probably a limit to just how much she’s willing to put up with while staying as my guest. In fact, I think the tetanus shot may have been pushing it.
And that’s how Veronica spent the first night of her visit and why she will now be scarred for life with a sort of half-Charles Manson, half Harry-Potter-lightning bolt look. The good news is that once she was finished at the ER she still wanted to go out for dinner and then she spent the next two nights at my house. AT MY HOUSE! WHERE I LIVE! WHERE THERE ARE EVEN MORE CORNERS AND PROBABLY EVEN MORE BATH AND BODY PRODUCTS THAN IN THE STORE!
Maybe she hit her head harder than we thought.