Friday, December 22, 2006

Engagement Party

"You look like the perfect couple. How you doin'?"

Yellow is a relaxing color, or maybe it's blue. I wasn't too sure. The maroon chairs offered a nice contrast. Plus, they were the most uncomfortable chairs I can remember sitting in for some time. And it's kind of ironic if you think about it. They want you to wait in these chairs. You're supposed to sit in them for a long time. Wouldn't it make more sense if they were easier on your posterior?

"Man, I was shouting 'Yaaaa! AAAAAH!' They had to hold me down."

Darryl was still talking. To us, to everyone around us. People were nodding, trying to be polite. I was trying to figure out exactly how we'd landed in Hell's Waiting Room. But, I realized, that was an inapt analogy. We weren't in Hell's Waiting Room -- we were in Hell itself.

He'd sat down across from us earlier, carrying what looked like a clear plastic cornucopia of gauze and pharmaceuticals. Out in the lobby, a weathered and angry looking old man kept doing laps in his wheelchair and barking at the receptionist from time to time.

"They took one of those sticks, you know - with the cotton on the end - and had it in my stomach. They was rooting around trying to find the pus."

Welcome to the ER Waiting Room on Thursday night.

Welcome to my engagement party.

The day began ordinarily enough - a sunny yet cool start to winter. I followed the routine to the letter: wake, shower, walk dog, eat and head to work. But this day wasn't going to be ordinary; it was going to be special. It was The Day.

Work passed in something of a fog. Basically, I was more useless than usual. Despite my best efforts, I may have actually accomplished something, but it's entirely possible I dreamed that part of it up. I was excited to get through the day. Ready to hit the kitchen to start cooking. I had an exciting menu lined up, great ingredients and new knives. Oh, and there was that whole ring thing too.

I left the office early, met a friend for lunch and hit the gym for a quick workout. Upon returning home, it was time to start cooking.

After a little goofing off, it was time to get my cook on. I started getting my mise into place - using my new chef's knife, I minced garlic, chopped apricots, sliced scallions, trimmed french beans and julienned carrots. It was fun having a really sharp knife to work with, and things were coming together nicely. Cooking relaxes me; I wasn't sweating bullets or fretting. Everything worked according to plan.

One hour out, I browned the lamb, spread the mustard, garlic and bread crumbs to it, and dropped it in the oven. The couscous was soaking up the chicken stock. The table was set, the wine chilled and the ring concealed somewhere handy. Darcy walked in from work as dinner hit the table.

After dinner, I swallowed hard, pulled the ring from it's hiding spot and asked the question.

OK - she said yes.

As Darcy was calling her friends and family, I decided to finish straightening up the kitchen. I scraped the plates, scrubbed the pans and picked up the knife and wiped it down with the sponge. And I was amazed when it cut through the sponge. Wow, I thought - be careful with this - it could hurt. A lot.

I was putting the knife in the dish drainer when it slipped out of my hand.

Darcy knew there was a problem when I shouted a few choice words. One of them starts with "M" and rhymes with otherfucker. We bandaged up the finger.

And bandaged it again after blood soaked through it.

And again.

Two hours and my finger was still bleeding. That's a bad sign. I may not be a doctor, but I hear that when blood seeps out of you for a couple of hours, you may have a problem. So we hit the emergency room -- just in time for their fast track service for minor injuries to close.

So we waited. And met Darryl, who I later saw passed out in the center of the quieter waiting room. Security was getting ready to remove him to somewhere.

We waited some more. And watched the impromptu family reunion as four generations of the James family gathered to find out more about their grandmother who had a stroke. Angry wheelchair man continued stalking the waiting room. I'd lost count, but I think he was nearing his 200th lap. Apparently, this rendered him effectively invisible to the hospital staff, because no matter what he said or did, they just looked past him and moved on to the next person.

More waiting. Darcy nodded off in the seat next to me as Jerry Seinfeld became Hank Hill became the news became Bernie Mac. And still we waited. Finally they took me in for treatment, and decided not to do anything with it other than put the finger in a gauze splint for a day or two - something we could have picked up at Walgreens.

Deep down, I think I was jealous that Darcy got to wear something on her finger but I didn't - well now we were even. While she got to bear a sparkling diamond on her ring finger, I got to wear a sheath of gauze over my middle finger. And I'll get a cool scar. Maybe.

So there you have it. Some people celebrate their engagement by spending time quietly with one another. Others surround themselves with friends and family. Me? I eschew such conventionalities. Give me posture-busting plastic chairs and human misery any day.

Welcome to the family Darcy. Wait 'til you see what I have planned for our wedding day . . .


Farrell said...

Oh yeah and: Congratulations!!
And you know I couldn't leave without: It's about time.

Brian Marston said...

Congrats, and may your wound heal quickly.

Chilly said...


Must have been some good wine, she says yes and you play a losing round of mublety peg.