THE LAST LAUGH
Added: Tue. Dec 11, 2012 7:54pm
Posted in: Writing
I was forty-five minutes away from home when I heard the message on my cell phone.
“Mommy, I just got home! Wilma bit off her own toe! There was blood all over the living room rug but it’s okay now, I cleaned it up with Clorox. And, I found her toe.”
Have you ever gotten one of these texts or voice mails from your kids? Obviously, I don’t mean this exact message. I mean one of those messages that just makes you cradle your forehead in your hands and ask, “Why me?”
To translate, Wilma is our one hundred and fifty-five pound; six-year-old adopted Great Dane. That’s it for the translation. I had no idea what the toe business meant. What was I most upset about: the thought of our poor maimed dog or the visual image of our decolorized living room rug? A CSI crime scene came to mind with an outlined chalk drawing of Wilma’s stiff body surrounded by patches of bleached-out brown Berber synthetic carpeting. Blood! Clorox! The kid is in college and the one time in his life that he cleans up a mess he’s got to do it with bleach?!
When I got home, Wilma enthusiastically greeted me at the door with a paper towel masking-taped around her front right paw. It promptly fell off. Blood dripped onto, and all over, the wooden kitchen floor. When she finally calmed down I was able to see that although it looked gruesome, she hadn’t bitten off her own toe. It appeared that, for some reason, she had torn her toenail out by the roots and the bloody, meaty stump was exposed. With every step, blood dribbled out. My son bounded down the stairs, eager to show me the bloody living room and the toe. The toe turned out to be her entire black toenail and although the living room had the eye-watering smell of a heavily chlorinated motel pool, the rug, thankfully, was still brown. Wilma followed us and left a fresh bloody trail on the rug. After experimenting, unsuccessfully, with paper towels and adhesive tape, I realized any bandage I constructed was just going to be eaten off. I thought about my husband’s approach to his own wounds. In the same way that the father, Gus Portokalos, in My Big Fat Greek Wedding believed that any ailment from psoriasis to poison ivy could be cured with Windex, my husband is the same way about Krazy Glue. As a contractor, he constantly gets cuts on his hands and not only are his fingers too large for Band-Aids, he couldn’t possibly use a nail gun or Skill saw with bandaged hands. So, he relies on Krazy Glue to quickly seal his wounds. I think the idea of that stuff getting into one’s bloodstream is unwise, but it does do the trick. I realized I’d have to create a fake protective toenail for Wilma until either a new one grew in, or the toe healed. I cleaned her bloody stump, which by now had dirt and in leaves in it from me banishing her outdoors while I cleaned the new and old blood stains. We had a bottle of Gorilla Glue in our junk drawer so I had Wilma lie down on the kitchen floor while I fashioned a toenail from the quick-drying glue directly onto the bloody mess. Wincing, I expected her to writhe around or yelp when the glue made contact, but she was practically falling asleep. As with nail polish, it took a couple of coats of glue to get it right and I fully expected it all to break open when she stood up, but it worked, I had created a toenail!
Was Wilma’s situation my son’s fault? No. Did the tone of his phone message get me upset? Yes. Today, I got the other type of voice mail. The kind where you feel vindicated and get to have the last laugh. I checked my cell phone after grocery shopping and heard the following message from my son:
“So, you know how I’m taking that Body Sculpting class for my gym requirement? Well, on the first day the guy said he wanted us to get a pedometer and wear it all semester and I was like F that. Yesterday, he said that he’ll be collecting our pedometers next week! I bought one and went online and it said the average person takes 5,000 steps a day. I did the math on a calculator to figure out how many times I have to shake this stupid thing to make it look accurate. 450,000 times! I have to shake it 450,000 times!”
I smiled all the way home.
Epilogue: If you ever need to rack up fake miles on a pedometer, it can be accomplished by sticking a wire coat hanger in a battery drill and attaching the pedometer to the other end. The miles accumulate slowly, but as I write this blog and my son squeezes the trigger on the drill, he’s up to 7,997 steps. I think he’ll be done by the time the new toenail grows in
December 10, 2012
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