My daughter rarely throws up. She leaks snot like crazy and drools like a St. Bernard, but puking? Not really her thing. So it came with a tad bit of concern that she had thrown up twice in one week, a few days a part, while battling what appeared to be, a common cold. And I stress the word, tad. At least on my end. Her mother, on the other hand, was starting to resemble guano with how batshit she was getting about it.
A sick child is terrible, especially mine. She acts like a tiny, angry drunk with her tantrums, throwing of bottles and all around dick-headery. Add in some piping hot stomach butter that she laid out on the carpet, in her crib and you have yourself a classic parental battle on what is best to do with your mutual loved one. In this case, it was whether or not to take kiddo to the emergency room or not. I was content on waiting it out at home, but her mother wanted to take her in.
So we compromised and we took her in…
Truth be told, I almost put my foot down and refused to go with. I guess, on our nation’s 238th birthday, I wanted to have an act of defiance as well. But then I had that moment that every parent has where you just know that if you do it that A: your co-parent will lord that over you forever and more importantly B: your kid will be diagnosed with the Hantavirus or some shit and you will forever be an asshole for not being there for her in her time of dire need. And the last thing I need is for her to end up with more stuff to discuss with a therapist in 20 years. So I did what good dad’s do, and I drove to the hospital while cussing everyone and everything out inside my head.
Did I mention that we were on our way to an emergency room…on a Friday night…on the 4th of July…in San Jose, CA? If you are unfamiliar with an emergency room in San Jose on a normal day, picture the movie Outbreak. You know, the one where the monkey bites a dude and half of the population gets infected and subsequently dies from disease, while the survivors are left to riot, rape and murder their way to safety. Pretty horrific, right? Now add a nuclear bomb to that scenario and you start to get an idea of what a Friday night ER visit is like on Independence Day.
The minute we get there, we see the seemingly mandatory Asian people in surgical face masks who take one look at my coughing, runny-nosed kid and immediately turn into round eyes as the scurry off like Godzilla just came storming after them. While we are checking the kid in, I can hear a woman complaining about her UTI. She has been in the waiting room since before 7:00 P.M. and it is now going on 11:30 P.M.
“What a slut,” I say to myself.
“Excuse me sir, what is that?”
Oops. Apparently I didn’t say that to myself.
After getting checked in, the slow and painful realization sets in that we may, in fact, be here a while. Even worse, we may end up leaving here with more diseases than when we showed up. But just when I think I may have convinced baby mama to punt on this whole ER thing, I hear the voice of the UTI slut, sitting behind me. I turn around to check her out and see a heavy set, elderly women staring back at me
“Geez,” I say to myself. “That slut is OLD.”
Just then, my attention is pulled in the other direction where a youngish latin woman is checking in at the ER and is clearly there to visit someone. The details are fuzzy, but the first round of eavesdropping reveals that the patient is a tattoo artist and a Catholic-athiest (don’t ask. I can’t fucking comprehend it, either) who arrived shortly before her. As she turns around, I notice a large chest piece that I am guessing is his handiwork and I believe was Honduran for “I don’t want a real job of any sort.” In addition to that wonderful life decision, she also had hoop earrings that were hanging from the big gauges she had too. Classy broad, no matter how you slice it.
Nevertheless, I am now infatuated with this barrio beauty and simply must know every detail of how she got here and why. As it turns out, her tattoo artist boyfriend lost his entire hand in some sort of knife fight fiasco, but this isn’t “nearly as bad,” as last time (last time?!?!?!) when he almost bled out in her car after getting stabbed in the stomach and throat. She is hoping they can re-attach “his” hand and not have to get him a “new one, ” since that is his “tat hand.” It was around this time that I realized that I was in over my head with her and decided to find another group to spy on.
Right on cue, a trio of people come into the ER with one guy with his right hand wrapped. Clearly he had bled and given the holiday, I was betting on a firecracker incident of some sort. Which is exactly what it was, except it wasn’t that he held the firecracker too long. Instead, he lit the firecracker, put it in a tin can, and was holding the can went it went off and shredding his hand into flesh origami. I felt like introducing him to the tatted up home girl on the other side of me on the off chance that I could see family resemblances among them, but just then, “Klo MarKo,” (fuckers) was called in.
I scooped up my bewildered child, drowned out the octogenarian whore with the UTI complaining about her being ignored, and ducked out of the war that is the waiting room and into the friendly confines of the doctor’s office. This whole ordeal took roughly 90 minutes to sift through and I just noticed that my kid had not coughed once, had no fever and was cuddling up to go to sleep. Wonderful. So when the doctor finally worked through his gun shot wounds, severed hands and assorted victims of violence, he has to deal with a kid that has the sniffles…with no symptoms of any kind. The kid gets a dose of Motrin, I blow up a medical glove, attach it to my stomach and start mooing like a cow (much to the chagrin of everyone except my kid who finds it hilarious) and we are sent on our way.
As we weave through the crowd of injuries and illness, I see my old slutty friend with the urinary tract infection explaining to the admins that she doesn’t have insurance because she is on welfare. I turn into a Republican for two brief seconds as I joke to myself that I will be paying for her pee pills. Then I look at my phone and see that it is now firmly into July 5th. I have never felt more patriotic in my entire life.
Happy Birthday, America.