Twenty Minutes Later I Wanted To Do It Again.

crutchWhat does it take to make an experience valuable?

I was a college freshman and alone for reasons I don’t remember. It was unusual for me to be alone since there always seemed to be someone around, even when I didn’t want others around,but on this particular night I was bored out of my skull and had left a series of messages on my neighbor’s answering machine describing in excruciating detail just how bored I was. When I guessed the tape was nearly full I left a final one that ended with, “Being able to share my feelings in this way has given me an entirely new and happier outlook on life. I think I’m gonna go fly a kite.” All of which was, of course, completely untrue. I didn’t even have a kite. But I did get up and leave. I’d been hit with a sudden craving for Chinese food and like a lean and hungry hyena, or at least like a pudgy guy in a trenchcoat, I set forth in search of numbers five, nine, thirteen, and a handful of fortune cookies. The problem was the closest Chinese food place I knew of was three miles away. I had heard of Chinese places that delivered, but New York is a long way from Indiana and I doubted any of them were willing to make the trip. Besides I barely had enough to cover a cup of hot and sour soup, let alone the extremely generous tip they were bound to demand. So I called in my order. I wasn’t going to sit there in the restaurant and eat by myself because that would be weird. And set off on foot. Having measured my walking pace I’m guessing it took me about an hour to get there and even though there was a chill in the air I didn’t worry about my food getting cold on the trip back because it was already cold when I picked it up. And I returned my dorm and had a small feast that I wouldn’t say was fit for a king or even the general whose chicken I was allegedly eating, but at least it broke the boredom. And the next morning I felt like it had broken something else. I had an intense pain in my right foot. I couldn’t stand on it but could hobble along by leaning on walls or on friends. The student health center provided me with a pair of Civil War-era crutches and my parents considered fetching me home to Nashville where my father knew a podiatrist named Doctor Payne. And I kind of wish they had, not because things would have been any better but because when your doctor as a homonynomous moniker like that the jokes just write themselves. I even spun out elaborate imaginary introductions. “Hello. I’m Doctor Payne. I’ll be assisted today by my interns Doctors Hertz, Bledes, and Nurse Stab.”

Instead an aunt and uncle nearby took me to the hospital where I was doted on by the same doctor I’d seen about a month earlier when campus security took me to the emergency room at three a.m. with severe stomach pains that turned out to be the result of mixing caffeine pills with Coke. I’m pretty sure that same doctor was there twenty-four hours a day which, in a small town, probably isn’t unusual, but that’s another story.

It turned out I had a stretched tendon. At least that’s what I think he said since it was kind of hard to pay attention over the sound of the guy a few chairs away who was trying to pass a kidney stone the size of a baseball. I was told I needed to stay off my right foot for the next six weeks which was annoying because walking was my primary way of getting from point A to point B since geometry wasn’t covered in any of my math classes. And I was stuck with the campus crutches which I knew dated from the Civil War because they’d clearly been made for Abraham Lincoln, and even once I got the hang of using them I didn’t move from place to place so much as take flying leaps that luckily didn’t stretch any tendons in my left foot. And when I got bored in class I could amuse myself by picking termites out of them.

It was an interesting experience but I leave this question to you: was anything learned or was it in any other way valuable? Would it help if you could try the egg rolls?

 

7 Comments

  1. Jay

    this is a pretty great story. I’m sorry for the pain it caused you, but it’s a little funny that you got so injured doing basically nothing. And no, Chinese food is never worth it.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That’s the deceptive thing about Chinese food. From the smell and the way it looks I always think it’ll be worth it and then I feel guilty afterward.
      At least I got as much practice with crutches and I did chopsticks.

      Reply
  2. halfa1000miles

    Reminds me of how God smites me whenever I try to eat fast food. Something always happens. Recently I “snuck” out to eat fast food and their credit card machine was down. Last time at Bojangles, the person handed me my tea and it hit the window ledge of my car and spilled in my crotch, where my cell phone sat.

    Yesterday, I had a sick day cause of my eye and got a hankering for a McDonald’s hot apple pie. Why that, I do not know. I have not had one in years. Maybe that was a comfort food. I drove 6 miles (each way) and when I ordered it and had to pull up and wait for two minutes. They never brought it out. I was in my jammies, so I pulled back up to the drive thru and they gave me two, to make up for it.

    I took it home, and damn if the recipe hadn’t changed since the last time I had one. They used to be crisp and fried and bumpy (yay), and when I bit into this one it was soft and baked and smooth (boo). There were holes in it where the hot apple filling flowed out and burned me. It sucked ass and I threw it away. When I looked at my receipt, they had charged me $7.00+ (for someoone else’s food). That was for ONE hot apple pie that I had ordered. I got two and threw them away.

    I love your story 🙂

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      When did McDonald’s ruin their apple pies? This is a mystery I want to get to the bottom of.
      But it does sometimes seem like God or the universe or something has a way of smiting us when we do things we shouldn’t, but why should fast food be a bad thing?

      Reply
      1. halfa1000miles

        Because I am married to Mr. Healthy — someone who McDonald’s would never cross his lips.

        Reply
  3. Ann Koplow

    Back in the 1980s, I was operated on by a surgeon named Dr. Payne. And yes, Chris, the jokes wrote themselves. I didn’t laugh then but I laughed reading this valuable post.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’m glad you can laugh now. Better to laugh later than not at all.

      Reply

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