“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day …”
Probably half the people reading this have their own version of this story and were driven equally mad by the experience. Here’s how it went for me:
I fell down one step onto a granite floor a long time ago and bumped my bum pretty hard. It looked like nothing but a big red spot on my right hip. Then, like an alien gestating in your stomach, it slowly grew. Before I knew it — and 1,800 trips to the wound doctor later — this “problem wound” turned out to be a Freddy Krueger-grade nightmare.
Two years later — two precious years — this sucker had refused to heal. We tried everything — even experimental stem cell surgery — everything short of going to a tent revival and asking the Lord’s servant on stage to heal me with the fiery right hand of God. (Unfortunately, there are no tent revivals in our area and fiery right hands are in short supply.) We had one option: plastic surgery. I cleared my calendar for a couple of weeks and went under the knife.
The operation went fine. The aftermath was interminable. It is fifth grade physics — the healing of any skin wound only happens when there is no pressure exerted on the wound. No pressure on the hip means that you lie in bed with a pillow under your leg and we’ll check back with you in a month or so. Day after day, that petty pace induces a mental unhinging, kind of like LSD without the bright colors. You don’t know day from night and have no idea what day or date it is. Your brain turns mushy and you start to conjure up things like:
What if I never get out of bed again? Not by necessity, like many, but as a lifestyle choice. For one thing, I’d save a ton on clothes. OK, it didn’t work out that well for Beach Boys genius Brian Wilson. Pioneer that he was, he reportedly spent three years in bed and only let people visit him if they brought either food or drugs. Sounds like a game plan to me, but Wilson ate his way up to 340 pounds and went in and out the funny farm, so maybe I need to rethink my strategy. Maybe I should only shoot for two years and try not to order pizza more than five times a week.
In this prolonged period of physical stagnation, maybe my brain will pick up the slack, lose all of its real-world moorings, and send me on a perpetual hallucinogenic adventure far more exciting than rolling down to Fantastic Sam’s for a quick trim. Which was a better experience for young Dorothy? A fantastic, all-expense-paid vacation in Oz, witches and munchkins included, or picking corn and slopping hogs on a one-horse farm in the middle of tornado alley in Kansas? Don’t believe the happy ending: in America, once you escape the mind-numbing life of farming, you don’t go back to Kansas. You go to Hollywood, become a big star, and tell the press that you were born and raised in Paris, France.
Maybe Sit ‘n Sleep or some other temple of mattresses will give me their finest goose-feather-filled mattress, put me in their wall-to-wall Memorial Day commercials, I become fabulously wealthy, and have to stay in bed all day for career reasons. I could also pick up a Jenny Craig spot proving that you can sleep all day and not become a blimp. The clap-on/clap-off lighting people might be interested, too. I certainly fit their demographic.
See, it’s a roller coaster of fame and fortune.
Or, given my luck, none of this will happen. The wound from Hell will finally heal just before they strap me down and put me on an all-Xanax diet. And then I will have to get out of bed in the morning, eat a hearty breakfast, and try to function like a normal human being. A quotidian reality will be my fate — shopping for frozen tamales at Trader Joe’s — until the next mega-wound comes along.
Which I hope is never.