Monday, February 2, 2009

Honey, Did I Ever Tell You About My Worst Date Ever?

Dave and I had made it 11 ½ years as parents without any broken bones (which I think should be grounds for a freebie with Child Protective Services), a streak that ended when Ellie broke her arm at recess last week.

While waiting in the doctor’s office, Ellie asked me, through tears and sniffles, if I had ever broken a bone.

“Oh, well, I told you about breaking my nose, right?” I replied.

“You told me you closed a window on it once (heave) and that you broke it high-jumping once (sob)” she started, “but what about the third time?”

I looked at my poor child writhing in pain, my sweet tweenager, a beautiful girl on the brink of discovering boys, and decided this was as good a time as any to share the story of my worst date ever…

It was spring of my freshman year of college, and I had a huge crush on my physics lab partner. Let’s call him Mike (because that’s what his parents named him). He was a junior from Oklahoma and absolutely adorable, and after months of sitting in class with him, I asked him out to a sorority date party, a Mexican-themed fiesta.

I was radiant in my new mint-green crew-neck tee and Mexican doll earrings. And we had a blast laughing and dancing and, I will admit, enjoying a beverage or two.

When the music finally stopped, we took the party bus back to meet up with some friends at his fraternity house, a beautiful, pristine mansion with red brick and gleaming white columns. There was also a concrete stairwell along the side of the house leading to the basement; an emergency exit that I assume, from the broken light fixture and debris on the steps, was rarely used. In daylight, one would hardly even notice it. In the dark of night, with the exterior lights missing, one might even trip over it.

That is exactly what Mike did.

As we walked around the side of the mansion, Mike stumbled on the concrete patio. He grabbed the railing of the basement stairs for balance but instead flung around and fell down the steps.

I, being the nurturing and concerned person I have always been, turned to help him.

But the stairwell was pitch black. I couldn’t quite see him, so I took another step forward. Unfortunately, I missed that all-important first step.

According to Mike (I have no memory for about an hour here), he was lying upside-down just a few steps down, when he saw me take a step forward and reach for him, a move that turned into me flying face-first over his entire body, landing at the bottom of the stairs.

(Yes, I realize I am lucky to be alive. Otherwise I wouldn’t be writing about this, as it would certainly not be very funny.)

I regained consciousness in the hospital’s emergency room, lying on a bed with Mike looking down at me, stroking my hair and telling me I had fallen, I had a tiny cut on my nose, but that I looked great.

He said I looked great! Clearly I had suffered a head injury, because at this point, the date seemed to be going even better than I’d hoped.

Then I noticed a needle about 15 inches long coming toward my face.

“It’s just a little bitty cut,” Mike said, “and the doctor needs to sew it up, but don’t worry, you’re going to be just fine.”

Looking up at Mike’s sweet face, I hung onto his every word. And as that needle labored up and down my nose, I dreamed of the day we would tell this story to our grandchildren.

“Your grandfather and I spent our first date in the emergency room, but he was smitten with me, and even the bloody stitches down my nose couldn’t change that.”

The doctor finished, and I decided to visit the restroom before we left so I could freshen up for our goodnight kiss I was certain I would receive.

I slipped into the restroom, looked in the mirror, and could not believe my eyes. A trail of blood ran out of each nostril, around my mouth, over my jaws, down my neck, and had saturated the top of my new shirt. Even my earrings were bloody. My face had swollen and started to bruise, and that “tiny cut” was a deep gash that looked to have been sewn up with barbed wire.

As I stood in that bathroom, horrified by what I saw in that mirror, it hit suddenly me that the goodnight kiss probably wasn't going to happen, and grandchildren were completely out of the question…

“Did you ever go out again?” Ellie asked

“Oh, no,” I laughed. (Though my banged up face added authenticity to my costume for the M*A*S*H party I went to the next night.)

“Your nose looks okay now,” she consoled, just as Dave entered the room, ready to wrap up Ellie’s broken arm.

I smiled. “Yes,” I said, watching her dad get to work on her, “things usually end up working out just right.”


Sassy Britches said...

What an adorable double-meaning ending! But you know, even though you did not end up with Mike, it was sweet of him to tell you how great you looked and to try to keep you calm. More than I can say for many guys I knew of in college who probably wouldn't even had gone to the hospital with you! Fun story!

adlibby said...

another great story, well told, Jules! If I were a publisher, I'd give you a book deal! =)

Bella@That damn expat said...

I had the same thoughts as Sassy, only she was faster this time.
Mike sounds like a real man.

Jules said...

SB, Lib, and Expat, glad you enjoyed it. Mike was a darling part of my journey, he did call often that semester, but that was out last date. Six months later I fell head-over-heels again (no, not literally), this time for the man I would eventually marry.

la_vie_en_shoes said...

So lovely, Jules! You ended up with the right man, but it sounds like Mike would have been a nice consolation prize.

KK said...

You really know how to spin a yarn, my friend!

raf said...

Ouch!That must have hurt!Pride and nose!

Tova Darling said...

Oh my gosh! That's definitely a first date you won't ever forget... no matter how much you try...

A. said...

Fabulous story, brilliantly written!
Thank you for sharing!

Jules said...

Shoegirl, Tova, Raf, KK, A-
Glad I could provide a laugh for the day. He was a doll of a date, all things considered. And the scar is barely visible now :)

Morgan the Muse said...

oouch. that hurts just to read. But he sounds sweet.

Moi said...

i love that you told this as a story to your daughter. I was expecting him to be your husband at the end! OMG! I love the description of how you looked when you were "freshening" up for your possible good night kiss. great post!