Okay, so here it is, in it's most accurate chronological order I can come to without opening my medical discharge folder sitting inches away. Yes, I'm that tired. I'll be guessing as to some of the dates. Try to follow as best you can:
November 27, massive stroke inside a porta-john (hereafter known as the "Blue Tube of Death") after running 3 miles, turning, and doing wind sprints for a half mile back before deciding to stop and pee. Granted, I was only wearing shorts, my music player and shoes and could have waded into the ocean. I didn't want to risk getting my phone/player wet with saltwater so I opted for the only porta-can on the six mile run that I do.
I entered the smelly catacomb covered in sweat and although gasping for air, breathing only through my mouth so I couldn't smell anything. You know how it works.
I couldn't get my shorts untied in the dimly lit potty. I couldn't feel the knot with my left hand and thinking the knot shifted, I reached down with my right to undo my pants. At this point, I fell on the floor hitting every part of that grotesque plastic pipe on the way to the ground. Thinking I'd stepped in a depression in the floor that my unadjusted eyes had yet to notice at my feet, I came up like Kramer on a Seinfeld episode: flailing away and not quite getting up the first time. On my second trip to the floor, I hit my jaw bone and chest on the men's urinal which left an impressive bruise across the front of my face and torso.
At this point, I'm really angry and thinking I'm going to be a reluctant star on a YouTube video. I turn to exit but cannot get the door to open with my left hand (which I still haven't figured out is paralyzed). I reach with my right, open the door and prepare to lay into a group of practical jokers with serious force. There was no one there of course. Just sun, blue sky, the ocean, beach and me standing next to an outhouse that had tried to swallow me whole.
At this point, I had to ask myself "Did I just have a stroke?!" I could not feel my left side at all and my arm was as if someone had painted it on. I couldn't move a thing which would explain why I couldn't get my pants undone and why I kept dropping my phone/music player. My head phones had broken too. Still, I spoke out loud and noted my speech hadn't started slurring (yet) so I figured it was a pinched nerve in my back. I did one more windsprint when I got back to the beach (about 100 yards between each marker) and decided to call it quits after that because I felt weird. I walked the remaining 2.5 miles back to my truck, angry, very smelly and wondering what the hell happened. I drove five miles home after making sure I had a blanket to cover my seat with. GROSS!!!! When I arrived home, Cristal told me "I look pale and the left side of my face is sagging". NOW my speech slurred horrendously as I tried to explain the fact that a shower is my first priority as I'd just break-danced on the floor of a porta-john in Jacksonville Florida. She offered to call 911 but I needed a shower and I wanted to research it first, just to "make sure".
I called Ed Zachar first as I'd remembered his wife had a bout with Beck's Palsy that went away after a few days. Mr. Zachar told me "Michael. You're having a goddamned stroke. Get to the hospital now!" I said "Nice talking to you again after all these years and thanks for caring. Sorry if I panicked you." I then hit Google with 'stroke' and the first lines were "time is your enemy". From there, I headed to the hospital, St. Lukes. Within the first day I'd had X-Rays, MRI, MRE, EEG, EKG, Echo Cardoiogram, Ultrasound, a zillion blood tests and tubes of various sizes and shapes shoved into every orifice of my body. All of them.
It was determined I have a birth defect in my heart that had four or so passages, not just two, so my DE-oxygenated blood gets mixed up on it's path. Because of my healthy lifestyle, the opening took a while to show itself. Whatever it was (I'll tell you soon) shot into my brain through a door in my heart and that caused the stroke. I'd had one before in 1997 while camping in the Olympic National Forest and awaiting the fairy over to Victoria B.C.. The guy who came in with me died on the table. I was told I had a T.I.A. and that it probably would never happen again. "Probably".
My overnight stay in Florida after my "real stroke" turned into a six day stay and even then, I was out early. I got on a medication regimen of Lovenox, Coumadin and Zor-something to get my blood stablilized for heart surgery the following week. December 4, I headed to the doctor's office to get my heart surgery scheduled. I was in a lot of pain on my RIGHT side now. I could barely lift my foot off the ground and I could not sit without writhing in pain. Sucks to be me at this point. But wait! There's more!
I "okay" the heart surgery (experimental as of yet) and the doctor suggests I hit the emergency room as I look "really uncomfortable" and he "doesn't believe the drug to drug interaction could cause these symptoms". So, I go- reluctantly, as you can imagine after just spending six days in there. The pain got exponentially worse not too long after I checked in so I'd have most likely had a red light escort on the way back. Cause of pain? Right Renal Kidney Failure. A chunk of my fully engulfed cancerous kidney had most likely broken off and caused the initial stroke when my heart failed to channel it in the right direction. The meds I was on was causing it to act up and put me in a LOT of pain. The doctor's words: "There's no easy way to say this. Your right kidney is black and needs to come out. It's cancer. It's probably what caused your stroke. You're lucky we found this now." I WAS feeling pretty lucky at that point (rolling eyes).
We move the heart surgery up to the next morning, pull the kidney out after the weekend and there I lay from the 2-17 Dec. Now I was in pain from two surgeries and still wondering if I was going to get nailed by another stroke. The rest is a blur for the most part. I've walked on the beach each night since I've been home and have a lot of thinking to do with respect to the direction in my life from this point forward. Thanks to everyone who was there for me in spirit and most of all to Steve Zachar, for offering me one of his kidneys. Thanks man. I need to reach the levels of success I know I'm capable of now but starting a lap down is going to be difficult for sure. I'm not nearly as afraid of dying as I should be. I am afraid of living and not enjoying the majority of each day. I'll let you know when I run 7 miles again, swim 500 yards and get through an hour of weight training. Thanks to my dad for coming down on short notice and quarterbacking this operation (so to speak) and my girlfriend for offering a smile and an opposing view whenever I needed it!
Friday, December 23, 2011
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Back when a band called Chicago had some balls, a guy named Terry Kath had a song called “An hour in the Shower” and it spoke of how the water cleared his head and made him notice things he might normally let pass by. In my morning shower, I couldn't help but notice that my shampoo smells like cherry Popsicles. Popsicle brand popsicles. Not the cheap imitations with corn syrup boogers hanging on to the wrapper for dear life. I really miss quality popsicles, more so here in Sacramento where it's been hot every day of the year so far. I've decided not to lay out in the sun anymore. I met a lady with skin cancer today. It looked like someone hurled Milk Dud's on her. I remember when I was in the first grade, a kid named Lewis I didn't like very much asked me to stick out my hand. So I did. And he spit his caramel in my hand. I threw it at him. We fought. Twenty years later, I think that old lady must have crossed paths with Lewis somewhere. Lewis' dad used to say "listen son..." all the time. Skin cancer is caused by the "son" (well, if you say it, it works). I went to the first grade with the man responsible for skin cancer, the incubus of the Milk Dud Disease. I should have killed him when I had the chance. I couldn't have used the scissors though. We had the kind with the rounded tips, and only lefties at that. Toxic poisoning may have worked, but the paste always smelled so good, I ate it myself and it didn't work, cause I'm still here normal as anyone... ahem. I had a gun, but my mom wouldn't let me take it to school. My hands weren't big or strong enough to choke hold, and we didn't get compasses until the fourth grade. What could I do? Skin cancer is partially my fault. I didn't even want the burden to begin with, but, well, I'm trying to live with myself.
I got so carried away with my skin cancer theory, I started sucking the shampoo running down my face into my mouth because it smelled so good and felt like the snot I suck down during solitary moments on ski trips. This didn't last long, for like coffee, gasoline, and toilet deodorizers, none taste anything like they smell. That's why I've stuck with paste all these years (no pun intended). I had half a bottle of the red cherry shampoo left and half a bottle of the blue aloe vera stuff. I mixed them together and turned my popsicle mixture purple. It looked like a lava lamp at first and to get myself in the mood, I ran to the living room naked and dripping wet, knowing full well I'd probably step on the wet spots in my last clean pair of dark business suit socks but I had to seize the moment in its most climactic moment. I put on an old Jefferson Airplane tune loud enough to hear in the shower and ate the mushrooms from an old Pete's Pizza that had molded in the back of the refrigerator. Even though everyone knows I hate mushrooms, I was feeling experimental at the time (and acting just plain mental). I didn't have the "real" kind of mushrooms that go with the song and lava lamp shampoo bottles and the guy down stairs wasn't home, so I was forced to improvise.
I ran back into the shower still wet, half deaf, and with a really bad taste in my mouth from the bogus ‘shrooms. I took a mouthful of water and erupted upward, making exploding noises like an insane Gilligan giving Mary Ann "elephant baths" alone in the lagoon. I stuck Noxema over the length of my body to keep me cool in case any of the purple lava should fly out of the bottle. I was doing shampoo chemistry. I noticed as the molten-room temperature purple pumice poured from the bottle onto body that the bottle says "lather, rinse, repeat". I've never washed my hair twice in one day (one week?) let alone twice in one shower. What am I supposed to think when I read this? I've come to basically three conclusions:
1. The shampoo guys need more money for the 60,000 mile
tune-ups on their 944's.
tune-ups on their 944's.
2. Shorter people get dirty hair easier than I do.
3. The guy that owns the shampoo place owns the Popsicle
company as well and wants you to crave Popsicles.
company as well and wants you to crave Popsicles.
My dad's one of these guys who follows directions to the "t". I remember it well, although I was only three. We were showering together as father and son do and he started reading the shampoo bottle to me: "lather, rinse, repeat". After rinsing me off, I jumped out of the shower, because mom only made me wash my hair once, even though I was short myself at the time. Dad stayed in to finish according to the instructions. Three days after the missing persons report was filed, and many calls from the office wondering if he'd quit, there was dad, still in the shower, lather, rinsing, and repeating, complaining that the hot water had run out. Outside the shower door lay sixty two bottles of shampoo. I know, you're thinking "He's making this up. This didn't really happen. Nobody keeps sixty two bottles of shampoo in the house." My mom's Polish and she had a coupon. Enough said.
I left Paul Mitchell's Awahpuhi out of it. With a Hawaiian name like that, the whole bathroom may have exploded. You know, is this guy fascinated by watermelon or what? All his shit smells like watermelon. I'll bet even his shit smells like watermelon. I'll bet he chewed Watermelon Bubs Daddy as a kid, dated women with big melons in school, and studied melon agriculture before becoming a hair dresser. A natural professional transition, no? I mean, if you work around fruit, then you're bound to work around animals. Watermelon Farm dogs, cats, horses, rattlesnakes (they love watermelon patches for those who don't know). So naturally, when it comes to cosmetology, watermelon smelling, shampoo making, animal testing hair production, it's a natural transition.
I have smells I'm infatuated with too I guess. Motorcycle exhaust from two stroke race bikes. Pine/Cedar trees. Black or Italian pussy. Puppies. Gasoline. I have a mixed bag I guess. One thing I hate to smell is apartments. They all smell the same. That brown carpet and cheap paint that runs whenever you take a shower or cook spaghetti by it must make apartments smell that way. It never leaves either. I leave the windows open, spray colognes I like (but not on me) into the air, make my girlfriend run around without underwear on three hours per visit, and air my hockey equipment out, but none of it works. I ought to sell dope. I can see them bringing in the sniff dogs now. "Aw roight boy. We know yew bean hidin' the dope in here somewheres. C'mon fella, sniff it out." Well the dog would just look at him like an idiot and say, in that doggie-look-way "All I smell is brown carpeting and shitty paint. And tell this guy he needs a new girl. Now get me a bowl of water."
Certain sounds grate on my nerves as well. Some time ago, some poor slob was crushed to death and/or paralysis by a garbage truck or some other large piece of equipment, so they put a little beeper on the back to warn the guy, and everyone within a block trying to sleep, that "Hey stupid! If you don't want to end up like your friend Squatty, then get the hell out of the way you knucklehead." Well this worked fine for a while, but then someone got used to the beeper after hearing it eight hours a day and soon again-SQUASH! Well, then some yahoo added a second sound, a buzzer to go with the beep. This too worked for a while and then, ultimately failed.
The truck that comes in here at six in the morning has three, count'em, three sounds. A buzzer, a beep, and a bell. My question is: With all that fuckin' racket, how can he hear the truck backing up? I think the best sound to mount on there would be the guy screaming who died paralyzed the first time. That's hard to ignore, unless you're Satan or something. It'd sure get the neighbors attention. "Someone being stabbed out there honey?" "Nah, it's just the garbage man." "Oh, that's right." I may kill the next one myself if they add another sound to the three they have now. Maybe I should send a list to Waste Management. "Sounds of the Landfill for the Politically Correct." How about a rooster crowing, or a giant coffee pot brewing, or a amplified bowl of Rice Crispies, or bacon sizzling? "Say honey, I hear the bacon cooking, but, eh, well, it smells like shit. Did you leave it on the counter again?" "No sweetie pie, the garbage man's here." "Ohhhh, okay. I guess that beats that guy screaming in pain. I'm glad they got rid of that. My brother made that noise when the neighbor's Doberman got a hold of him and, well, it's hard to listen to that every Monday at six a.m.." "Yes, but you must admit dear, it keeps your attention."
They have one of those cheap carnivals going in a neighboring parking lot. The kind that employs ex-garbage men who still smell like they've taken the job with them. The only advantage to these carnivals is that the help is so stoned half the time, they leave you on the rides forever, puking or not. The guys on the Matterhorn are the worst. "Man, I can't shut the ride down in the middle of Aqua Lung man. It's Tull. I just can't do that man." I remember when riding the Matterhorn was cool because the music was always new and shocking. This is why (according to my own theory carefully devised while listening to Nazareth's Expect No Mercy at the Detroit State Fair Grounds) people say "Heavy Metal makes me sick." Of course it does. "You were on the Matterhorn when you first heard that song." Snot is running down his nose! Dummmm Dum Dum Greasy fingers, smearing shabby clothes, Hey Aqua Lung. This pretty much describes the guy working the ride and taking tickets, but it's not shocking anymore. They need new programming on the Matterhorn. Cannibal Corpse, Alice Donut, Sepultura, the Didjits, Onyx, Tung Twista, voice overs of Howard Stern screaming at someone and finally, a garbage man being run over by a 10 ton truck. I came up with all this walking to my car past the fair in about fifteen seconds time. Does anyone else think this much about this kind of thing or would anyone care to recommend a good therapist?
I wonder what kind of shampoo garbage truck drivers use? I'll bet it's one of those really smelly ones like "Gee your hair smells terrific" or Flex. I bet they don't use awahpoohie. It's all the same anyway really. The first ingredient is always de-ionized water. I've never really understood this. Water has never had ionized in it to begin with. And why doesn't someone just sell de-ionized water? If we rinse our hair does it get all ionized again? And how do we know? No one in my life time has ever came to me and said "Gee Mike, your hair looks really ionized today. You better switch shampoos." I have had people come up and tell me my hair smells like popsicles though, and I always ask "The real Popsicle brand popsicles, or the cheap imitation kind with plain white wrappers, no red dot, and balls of corn syrup that attack the package?" I never get an answer. Just a scream, similar to the guy being run over by a garbage truck...
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Easter Sucks Too
So here I sit chewing baby carrots and hoping to delay my seemingly failing eyesight celebrating Easter two thousand miles from the relatives chewing much finer meals. I know I'm missing the great dinner we usually have. It's been so long since I've had it I can't even remember what it is (Suddenly my sex life comes to mind for some reason as well). Anyway, it was great, Easter dinner at Wanda's that is. I'd even do a road trip to DeWitt for it. The hour in a car with my family is like four hours in the plane. Granted I don't get cramped legs, and, unlike the airplane stalls, I can stand up in most of the rest rooms along the way without hunching over. I basically hate peeing on an angle to begin with. If I hunch over, it makes my gizmo harder to control flow-wise. If I squat, my muscles tense up and I don't feel like I've emptied out all the way when I walk back out to my seat. And that loud sucking noise when I flush on a plane always scares the hell out of me, even though I know it's coming. I stare at the toilet and think "Brace yourself, here comes that noise", but I flinch every time. Then I get a big rush of mad adrenaline for letting myself jump, even though I knew the big suck sound was coming and.. eh, back to Easter dinner.... sorry.
So, this time of year we're normally on our way to DeWitt for Easter dinner, and each year my family's musical tastes get more subdued while mine get more avante garde. "Are we there yet?" I ask ten minutes into the 90 minute drive. "Why must we listen to this insipid Classic Rock station? I hate Elvis. I hate Led Zeppelin. And I hate the Beatles! They had one good album-what was it called?- Beat the Meatles? Something like that." My dad then proceeds to change to the country station making me wish I'd shut my mouth. My mom starts singing with Willie Nelson at the top of her out of tune lungs and I join in creating further dissonance by improvising my own lyrics over Willie's. "Whiskey River take my mind/Don't let the IRS torture me/Whiskey River don't run dry/My ranch is gone, my ulcers bleed." "Don't make fun of Willie Mike!" my mom says. "Who would you like to make fun of then Mother?" I ask. "That better not be half a word son" she warns me. My sister would blurt in "Why don't both of you shut up?" and as she was saying it my mom would stick her finger in my sister's mouth and gag her. They'd start fighting and as it turned out my dad would turn on some obscure sports event that even he himself hated just to shut everyone up. "We hate the Lions Dad!"
I used to ride in the back when I was a kid, but my habit of blowing gum into the hair of whoever was sitting directly in front of me got me in preferred seating- or the front. I'd say "Hey, I was only trying to blow a bubble and it came out of my mouth." After about the third time I wasn't credible. My mom kept flicking my ears with her fingers and I spent most of the trip stooped forward to the dash. Occasionally my dad would slam on the brakes hard enough to make my nose bounce off the dash board. The fighting was intense. We stopped at a lot of rest areas on the way to patch wounds on our bodies and to re-supply the tissue for my nose bleeds.
Ah, those were the good old days. Trying to keep in the spirit of things even though the family isn't here is hard. I could cook a nice
big dinner, but being by myself, it tends to be hard buying one garlic roll, one bowl of salad, ingredients for anything for that matter. I thought about having rabbit, but that's a little morbid and all. My neighbor has one of those huge pet rabbits that basically sit and do nothing. She gives one to her snake every Easter. She's a Pantera fan too.
I don't like candy as much anymore and as soon as I ask for grass to fill my Easter Basket, some cheesy store clerk starts offering me the imported kind that gets better as it gets older and costs much more than I'm willing to spend. I remember when they used to sell this in bags, but now it seems they sell it by the ounce. At least they could take that strong order out of it. My allergies are very heavy this time of year and my eyes are red a great deal. I suppose this could account for my seemingly innocent solicitation of Easter grass. I contemplated having an Easter egg hunt but several things discouraged me.
First, me and egg dye never got along when I was a kid. I used to watch my dad drink Alka-Seltzer late at night sometimes and he'd let me put the pills in the glass and watch the pills fizz. Then he'd drink it down and belch. I was in awe. Then, one cruel Easter Eve, my ma decides we're gonna dye eggs. She sets these small colored tablets on the table next to the drying eggs (I could never figure out why she washed them when we peeled them anyway) and a cup of rather stinky vinegar. "Smells like the lady next door when she hugs me" I noted, back when I was actually waist high on people. My mom looked at me through an icy stare and told me never to say that again. It was one of those deals where she was mad but I couldn't figure out why. I just knew she was dead serious.
Anyway, I asked her what to do next and she instructed us to divide the tablets between me and my sister and drop them into the various cups of vinegar. Of course there were always an odd number of color tablets and thus, every Easter Eve a fight ensued. My ma got wise and would cut the last tablet in half. By then, we were arguing over the one thing we did agree on: The coolest egg sticker configuration. Once again, she intervened by putting the sticker on the egg she did herself.
After all the fuss, the tablets and stickers were finally divided evenly, though I started putting them on my dog, so I didn't have as many for the eggs. My mom told us to put the tablets in the vinegar one at a time, which never made sense to me because I only had one free hand and six glasses, but I never questioned her at this point in the night. The first time I ever did this myself, I was astounded at what took place before me. The little blue tablet fizzed exactly like the Alka-Seltzer and, over-overwhelmed with excitement, I yelled "Watch you guys. I'm like dad" and proceeded to entirely down the mercifully small cup of bubbling blue vinegar solution, followed by a large "BBBBRRRRRAAAAACCCCK!" "Wow! This stuffs awful!! Why does dad drink this mom? It makes my stomach hurt worse." She rushed me into the bath room mumbling the very words I'd had eaten soap for on more than one occasion and made me drink several glasses of water. I didn't puke, but I wet the bed six times that night and my dad had to dry after his shower with a hand towel since I'd used all the big ones to sleep on. "Is my tongue going to stay blue forever mom?" I asked her. "Probably" she mumbled, as we went back to the kitchen. I told Amy my tongue was blue forever and she stuck out her tongue. It had a sticker on it. It was a fun night for everyone. My mom still talks about it whenever her AA friends come over.
Another issue discouraging my one man Easter egg hunt besides the fuss of dying and stickering was the hiding of the eggs. I mean, how does one hide eggs from oneself? I experimented with a couple of ideas as I didn't want God to think I'd given up on his resurrection party so easily. I mean, the cat died and still rose to party with his disciples. I figured the least I could do was come up with a few ideas on how to celebrate with him.
First, I closed my eyes and threw several eggs about the room, hoping they'd roll under or into something. It was this experiment that abruptly reminded me that I'd forgotten to hard boil them first and, for the first time in twenty years, I figured out that mom hadn't washed the eggs after all, she'd hard-boiled them. And I thought punch lines came to me slow. The egg came off most things they hit fairly easily, but my posters ran and my vacuum cleaner smells funny now. I kind of wished I hadn't use the entire dozen before I opened my eyes to start searching. After a trip to the store for more eggs and a boiling session in the kitchen to give them a little more durability, I started the blender empty and, having the foresight of knowing the blades would ruin the eggs, I stuck a knife in the blades. I not only dulled the blades but it did some serious damage to the knife as well. All in the spirit of the event though, I ignored the impending expense and started throwing the hard-eggs into the blender set on "whip". And whip it did. I should have put one egg in at a time, but I was already behind schedule, so I dumped in about six. The machine worked perfectly, as the first two eggs flew out and hit me right in the eye about eighty miles an hour or so. Two more took out the kitchen windows and landed on the cars below in the parking lot, setting off their alarms and the last couple I still can't find. I'm sure they'll reveal their location in about a week.
After my vision came back to a semi-focused phase, I thanked the guys from 911 on their quick arrival and for getting my eye sight
back at all. Then, I went next door and asked my neighbor to come over hide my eggs for me and even gave her a few hints of places I'd be least likely to look. "I'll let ya put 'em in my skivvies if you want!" She shut the door in my face. I yelled through the Armor Guard door "I mean the skivvies in my drawers!" "Wait, I mean, the ones I'm not wearing, but the ones in... my... room" I tapered off. Who would have thought good sentence structure could make or break a lonely holiday? I got angry that she'd get so defensive so fast. "What's the problem lady, where's your Easter spirit? I boiled 'em this time, don't worry!" People with Armor Guard doors always seem to be on some kind of power trip. I'm thinking that maybe the black eyes were mistaken for a mask and she might have thought I was a robber. Maybe it was the knife I used to dull the blender blades with that was still in my hand. I suppose I'd be a little nervous if some 6'7" guy came to my door with bloody knuckles, two black eyes and a jagged kitchen knife asking me to participate in a hunt. Plus, it was getting late and I still hadn't accomplished what I'd set out to do- create the world's best solo Easter egg hunt.
I went back inside and began to notice the night air had made my eyes itch right away. Figuring I was moments away from a major sneeze attack, I instinctively reached for my back pocket and pulled out a hanky unexpectedly. Almost immediately I'd realized that the hanky was coming out of a pair of shorts I hadn't worn since last summer. I'd noticed the creases were rather defined in the rag. As I wiped my nose I started wondering just how many of my other pockets had old snot rags in them. Then I got a brilliant idea (Some may question my choice of adjective here, but the way I look at it, no one else would be likely to think of this, so in that light, it may be considered "brilliant"-author.). Instead of an Easter egg hunt, I'd have an Easter rag hunt! This was really exciting because not only did I notice that some of my snot rags appeared to be missing last time I did my laundry, but also because my new apartment has two closets and, technically, three rooms.
I started Easter morning with the hall closet and gazed at the pockets of the hanging articles. A set of waders, a flannel hunting jacket with two pockets, an old winter coat, and three hockey jerseys. Before I looked in the closet, I went to my drawer and counted the snot rags on hand. There were eight. I knew I had at least twice that. I'd ditched two recently when a bag of pistachios caught up with my system on a nature hike and bathrooms were non-existent, but that's a different story. Anyway, I went back to the living room and put Peter Cottontail on the tape player and started my hunt. It started out with a real bang too.
The green buffalo plaid jacket pocket tops were sitting funny over the buttons and I knew something was in there. I pulled out the hardened cotton excitedly, knowing it'd been months since I had worn that jacket. It must have been a light day and as I felt the rag, I guessed by weight and volume the rag dated to September the previous year (about eight months ago). I'd remembered packing it for my fishing trip and wiping my wet hands on it several times, trying to get the spawn off my fingers. The other pocket had my spawn in it, still in the tube fortunately. One rag on the first try. Not bad.
I checked the winter jacket I hadn't worn since my days at the airline. I was really anxious now. This baby has seven pockets. Four out front, one on the sleeve, and two inside. Tearing through the coat, I found two more booger vaults, far more crusty than the previous, which made sense because I really cough up the phlegm and blow my nose a lot in the winter. These rags had to be really old because they were the monogrammed ones my grandma gave me to use with my suits so I could look professional while I blew my nose. I had been wondering why they hadn't been in the laundry. I got an additional bonus in that they were so old and "used" that they had changed colors. This made it seem more authentic in the sense that they were kind of dyed like the eggs would be. I also found some old receipts from a trip to Denny's in Belleville, and thirty eight cents in change. The bedroom would be next and I knew this would be an adventure. I'd check the laundry baskets first, then folded clothes on the shelf, and last, the hanging clothes.
In the whites, mixed with my BVD's and ever darkening socks, I found five more snot savers of varying consistency. In fact, some of them hadn't even been used, but I must have put them in there just because I wasn't sure if someone may have borrowed it or (s)not.
The tainted textiles were easy to pick out (no pun intended) because of the slightly different colors. The green ones were days of heavy antihistamine, the yellow, days I toughed it out without medication. Some just stuck, but had no color at all. I checked the shirt basket and came up empty handed, but the jeans basket produced three more, one in each dirty pair. The one rag wasn't dirty but smelled like smoke still from the bar even though it was in my pocket. I try not to blow my nose in bars. I'm just not comfortable with it for some reason.
With the tissue tally at seventeen, I moved to the top shelf of the closet and expected to make a killing. After all, most all of my pants are up there folded. I started with the jeans and found a pair in the jeans I'd worn to casual day at my last project. It was lightly soiled, as the dusty files I was reviewing upset my sinuses, but it wasn't bad. Mostly dry sneezes. I unexpectedly found one in a pair of swim trunks, but that made sense as these were pool shorts and I don't blow snot in the pool. I see other people do it and it really bugs me. I've left when I've seen people clear their fingers by treading water with them. Granted, lakes have fish poop and all, but I don't see them do it, you know? I mean, would you swim in my snot even if I offered to dilute it for you? I "thinks not".
Last of all was the hanging items. I found one in my suit pocket from last week, two in separate pairs of fall/winter dress pants that were at least a couple of months old, and then the grand finale, my new winter coat, complete with two snot rags loaded with Mt. Bachelor boogers from Oregon. They sounded just like hard boiled eggs as I pulled the corners of the cloth apart and I contemplated eating them to capture the spirit of the moment. I know it sounds gross but it really isn't so outrageous. In my day, I've drank Pine-Sol, eaten raw bacon, and munched on sand (thank goodness I'm allergic to cats), sucked on strawberry shampoo, and partook in peat moss (full face helmets are definitely the way to go). God knows what I may have tried back when I was still a kid. The colors were beautiful and varied amongst the rags. They ranged from lemon yellow to chartreuse to sea green to pine green. At times, it seemed as if my sinuses had inspired the creation of Ireland. You know, the "forty shades of green". Maybe that's how God came up with Ireland. He blew his nose and said "Cool. I think I can use this". God has a use for everything. Even snot.
The rag I found in a suit in the far corner of my closet was the best though. The suit was slated to end up at the good will store. The hanky even made a "peeling" sound as I removed it from the pocket it stuck too. They rarely stick to the pocket. I could hardly wait the extra fraction of a second to see it. It came out a combination of white, banana yellow, dark red, blood brown, and with some small traces of black. I last wore that suit a when I worked at the window place four years ago. I reflected on the moment and then it dawned on me when that rag had last served its purpose:
It was late spring/early summer back in Michigan and I was on my way home from Flat Rock to South Lyon. I crept up on the final eight mile stretch of road to my home and I was sneezing so hard and continuously, I almost had to pull over. Being adventurous, I just drove on to see how it would affect my driving skills if I blew my brains into my hand while going 60 miles per hour. Would the right hemisphere of my brain come out the right nostril and the left out the left? Would I still be smart enough to drive a standard shift truck with my brain in my rag? Would I start to like WJR, Paul Harvey, Tony Bennett, and the AM radio ideology in general? Can one still see without a brain or would my eyes become windows to my pumpkin like hollow head? Should I pull the guy over in front of me in the double yellow section and tell him the speed limit is ten miles per hour faster than his stupid '73 Pinto is going with the I Eat Small Children. U Got a Problem With That? bumper sticker. Or should I just rear end him hard and make his death trap explode, feeling no guilt because my brain is buried in my snot rag now and I can no longer have a conscience even if I wanted to?
I counted my sneezes as I hit Beck Road and Ten Mile that night and headed home -eight miles even. I sneezed twenty times a mile. No exaggeration. No lie. My nose was bleeding out both sides when I got home. One hundred sixty sneezes in less than eight minutes (Yes, for you mathematical geniuses, I was speeding...). I held the rag in my hand for a moment, noting that even after three years, it still felt a little heavier than the clean ones, though it finally was dry. The moment was too emotional and I lost my composure and began to cry. I gathered myself momentarily knowing I had the bonus egg/rag. The grand tee-tah. I dabbed my eye with the nasty nose goblin net, and laid it to rest in a place where such a work of art can be truly appreciated for what it is: at the art exhibit in Sacramento. I told them it was an original and one of a kind Dali Batik, "according to the elderly lady in San Francisco", who sold it to me at a garage sale with a picture from Sears I just had to have. I said I was a little too old to be playing with dollies and she enthusiastically agreed and asked me how much I'd like for it. She looked as if she'd drool. I said make me an offer and she gave me $100 and I said "Are you sure lady?" She said "A deals a deal" and proceeded to literally snatch the rag from my hand and immediately shut down her display two hours early, hurrying me and her newly acquired rare treasure out the door with her. She even told her boss on the way out she quit.
I took the hundred to a nice restaurant up the street called Crickets, a "Biker Breakfast Bar" by it's own admission (everything's biker something these days) and bought a ten dollar all-u-can-eat Easter dinner buffet. I gave the waitress a ninety dollar tip and she asked me out. I said I'd rather eat inside so my food didn't get cold as fast. We hit it off immediately. She gave me an extra glass of OJ on the way out and I went home and laid on the grass reflecting on this sunny Easter Day. It was a unique day in its own right, my snot rag expedition, though it was quality time spent (Quality is subjective). However, I still missed Grandma Kowalczyk's famous Easter dinner, and without Wanda's wing ding cooking, Easter's just snot the same.