An Insight into the Minds of Men by Richard Bleil
In the late ‘90’s, my friend and I were planning on a convoy to Florida. He was off to visit his friends, and I was planning a scuba trip. I was working for the college component of a large medical center in Ohio. I had my diver’s license but hadn’t yet done much with it. In Florida there is a dive site called “Devil’s Den Prehistoric Spring”, a lovely natural spring in a cavern of constant temperature because it was fed by the spring, but also because it is in a large natural cavern that protects it from the elements.
And, for those who missed the implication in the previous statement, no, I never made it. My friend was heading down as well to visit family in Florida, and as we both taught at the same college, we both had the same days off. The advantage to working in academia is the rather large abundance of days off (holidays and vacations), but the disadvantage is that the dates of these breaks are not of your choosing. It was the mid ‘90’s, so cell phones were around, but relatively rare. They were uncommon because they were very expensive, and service was, well, unreliable. So, my friend and I went out and bought CB radios (yes, you can laugh) and the plan was to take off early in the morning and drive down close enough with one another to chat on the way.
Honestly, it would have been fun.
The night before, it’s not like I could sleep. It was an exciting prospect; my bag was packed, my scuba gear was ready to go, and everything was in the car save one last bag of items I would need in the morning. I had my “Trip Tik” ready (yes, this was before Google Maps), but my mother’s voice kept circling in my brain. “You don’t want to come back from a vacation to a sink full of dishes, do you?” I have a (rather nasty) habit of not doing dishes in a terribly timely fashion, so, yes, I had dishes in the sink. Including a glass that I routinely used for iced tea, and the tea stain on the bottom.
Funny thing, tea stains. They’re a nightmare to get out, until they get to a certain thickness, then they just slide right out. This night it was a nightmare. I had my hand jammed down into the glass, and, yes, the glass gave as I was trying to turn the rag.
Seriously, invest in one of those cleaning “wands”. Trust me.
The glass broke, and the cut on the knuckle of my thumb was deep. Instantly my hand was covered in blood, but, you know, I would be diving tomorrow, something that I was very much looking forward to, so, surely I can just tear this bit of skin off and get on with my life.
But, no. It was too thick and trying to tear it hurt terribly as might be expected. I rinsed off the blood, and as soon as my hand left the stream of water it was covered in fresh blood again. One thing became (literally) painfully obvious; I would need stitches.
The good news is that I worked for a medical center. Yep, great insurance, great employee discounts, so no hesitation about heading to the emergency room. The bad news is that it was about one in the morning. I lived alone, was a much younger single man, so, of course, I was washing dishes, oh, how can I put this delicately? Let’s just say I was, oh, BUCK NAKED.
Nudity is a big part of my past.
Of course, the thumb needing the stitches was on my right, and dominant, hand. The first thing I did, being a man, is grab the nearest towel to wrap my blood-soaked hand up. Of course, I didn’t want blood all over my clothes, and it’s not terribly easy getting clothes on with one hand, your best hand, out of commission, but I did a pretty good job.
I head out to the car, jump in, and realize, the ignition is on the right-hand side, and my right hand is out of commission. It was an awkward thing to reach around to start the car, and since the gear shift is on the right side, yes, it was a challenge shifting gears as well.
Here’s how a man’s mind works. Driving to the emergency room at now two in the morning, two thoughts crossed my mind in rapid succession. The towel I grabbed was a dishtowel my mother had given me, so the first thought was “Oh my god, I there are flowers on this towel. I hope it’s not too effeminate to be seen in public with!” Yes, men think that way. But, the second thought rapidly following the first was, “Wait, it’s blood soaked! How much more masculine can it be?!?”
Of course, the attending physician forbade me from diving with it for at least a week, when my trip would have been up anyway, so no trip. But, maybe, just maybe this was a good thing. On my way out of the emergency room, I spotted a student of mine in the waiting room. I sat down with him and asked him what was going on. I spent the rest of the evening sitting with him, and waiting for what would be good news, just a little too slowly.