Monday, July 09, 2007

The Truth About Love: "At Least It's Not a Roach"

Last night I went on a third date with a very nice guy from Northampton.

On our second date, I slipped on some paint that had been applied to the edges of the grass volleyball court we were playing on. I sprained my knee, got covered in sticky white acrylic paint, and had to go to the emergency room in an ambulance. I'm still not walking properly and am awaiting the results of my MRI. My hope is that it's a non-surgical diagnosis.

On our first date, I got food poisoning.

Nevertheless, last night, we attempted a third date. We went swimming. played cards on a blanket by the lake, then went into amherst for some dinner. When i made it through swimming without drowning, being attacked by eels, or stepping on a piece of glass, I thought I was home free.

But then, while standing at the intersection near Amherst Coffee...a bug flew in my ear. It was a big bug. A big, winged bug that smacked into my ear and then journeyed inside, deeper and deeper, flapping his wings and clawing at my ear canal with great futility.

In response, I also flapped my wings and clawed at my ear with a futility that, it turns out, equaled the bug's, while making animalistic wimper-screeches and jumping up and down. I wonder if, to the other pedestrians, there could have been any imaginable explanation for my behavior other than dangerous insanity.

I waited for an eternity for the light to change and then sprint-limped to the fire station where a teenaged-looking EMT was mostly just amused at my plight. he grinned, rather stupidly in my opinion, and said he couldn't see the bug, it was in too deep, and that he should take me to the ER in the ambulance to have it removed. another trip the the ER??? good gawd.

luckily, the night before--the very night before!--i was with a friend to whom this happened, so i knew just what to do. the nurse had told us to get some mineral oil, fill the ear, let it sit, and then tip it out.

so, i sprint-limped out of the ambulance, still whimper-screeching and flapping, stormed into CVS, with my date quietly trailing behind. I nearly panicked when i couldn't find the mineral oil.

"Go find it!!" I commanded my date.

And just then, I then found it, next to the laxatives and indigestion relief aids.

"I found it!" I screamed.

I sprint-limped back to the counter and asked the pack of tweenage girls lingering over their chewing gum choices if i could cut in front of them because i was "kind of having an emergency." they agreed, and my mineral oil purchase was, i suspect, aside from perhaps a late-night condom purchase or two, the most frantic transaction ever conducted at the downtown amherst CVS.

"Open this!" I told him, while a frightened cashier doled out my change.

I jammed the bills into my wallet, grabbed the mineral oil, and ran out the door--or tried to. Instead, I crashed into the too-slow automatic doors, which accordion INward, a design flaw one can only appreciate if one is in a panic and attempting to move OUTward.

I untangled myself from the doors, dashed down the concrete stairs, and laid down on the sidewalk. I put my head on the bottom step so that my date could pour mineral oil in my ear. We haven't kissed yet. We haven't even hugged yet, but there have been bed pans, IVs, ambulances, blood, crutches, and now this.

My date did what I asked. He dumped the mineral oil in my ear, but it made a big mess. my head, neck, and shoulders were fairly well soaked. so, i sent him for napkins, and while i lay there drenched in oil on the sidewalk in front of CVS, a homeless-seeming man wearing a colorful but crooked cape he had fashioned out of a pillow case and carrying a big bucket plunked himself down for a chat.

"how you doin?!" he said with great artificial cheer, as though he were a department store Santa Claus and I were a child his profession required him to charm. I was, of course, not a child in line for his lap, but rather a woman lying prone on the spit and gum-coated sidewalk with an ear full of mineral oil and a bug in its death throes in her ear canal.

Naturally, I ignored him and focused on the dying bug. But he would not be dissuaded.

"You doin' some yoga?," he asked.

"No," I said. "I have a bug in my ear."

"Ahhh," he said, as though I had requested a football signed by every member Patriots and their coaching staff instead of a talking Suzy Sweetness doll. He pondered my predicament for a moment, undeterred, and then offered, "My wife got a roach in her ear!"

I said nothing in response to this. He had done what a good conversationalist should do; he had found some common ground. But, lying there with one ear on the dirty concrete, the other filled with oil and an ever-more-slowly thrashing bug, I simply could not think of anything to say. The man ambled away, looking, I presume, for a better conversation partner or perhaps someone more willing to put something in his bucket.

As the drowning bug made its last thrusts inside my head, my date returned with a fresh roll of paper towels he had purchased inside the CVS, a place I was now beginning to think of as my sole source of salvation, its glowing red sign offering amnesty and escape from persecution in the form of air conditioning, mineral oil, fresh paper towels, concrete steps on which to rest my troubled head, and the sympathetic gum-shopping 12-year olds who stepped aside for me and then came by later to check on my progress and to tell me to "be well."

My date handed me a wad of paper towels and I sat up and tilted my head to the side, hoping ferociously that the bug would drain out along with all the oil. It hasn't yet. It's still in there. But as I sit here today, contemplating whether or not I should call my doctor, I am able to take some comfort in this thought: "at least it's not a roach."

Post Script: As I was writing this, I took a break to go downstairs and let in the furnace repairman. We discovered that the noise I heard in the basement last night was a skunk. Let's just say, we discovered this "the hard way."

I burnt my breakfast because animal control called me back while I was cooking.

Animal control came--and then left. He said he didn't want to ruin his clothes with the awful smell. He called again half an hour later to tell me he had a sore throat from the fumes. What could I say to him? "At least it's not a roach?" It turns out, that's not a universally comforting mantra.

He suggested I open the basement door and in the hope that the skunk finds its way out through my kitchen. He said I should lock the cat upstairs, barricade the four doors that lead off the kitchen, and leave the back door open. He suggested I sprinkle a 3x4 foot square of flour near the door so that I would know when the skunk had departed.

So, here I sit. Monday afternoon. Eating burnt eggs. Waaay behind in my work, with a bug in my ear and a skunk in my basement. My house reeks intensely of skunky funk. I'm sitting in the dining room in front of a very large fan, watching over my kitchen, a 3x4 foot square of flour my latest hope of salvation.

Update: As of 6:06 pm, the skunk is still enjoying the confines of the basement, despite my tempting open door policy. After acting as sentry over the area for much of the afternoon, I have a headache from the fumes and the heat. So, I have retreated to my office, where I have closed the door and turned on the A/C, which is a great comfort compared to the assaultive 90 degree heat and painful smell downstairs. The best news of all: I went to the doctor. They flushed my ear and out came an insect. A moth. A dead one. A rather sizable one. The doctor was so delighted, he actually high-fived me.

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Blogger Maryam said...

Sweetie, next time you have a bug in your ear, get as close as you can to a big fat lightbulb, as high a wattage as you possibly can bear. The bug will feel the heat and fly literally, towards the white light. Mineral oil will only serve to drown him and leave him dead in your ear canal. Hospital forceps in this case (the kind everyone used for roach clips in high school) can be used to (gently so as not to squish) bring him out. Good luck! We have a skunk under our patio which is why I came across your post. Glad your resolution (and your cool roomie Seth) was a happy one!

4:14 PM  
Blogger Naomi said...

Hi, Maryam--thanks for the input. Your solution, I'm afraid, isn't advisable, though. For starters, the bug was not able to turn around in my ear canal, so could not move toward light, nor could it move backwards. The mineral oil solution was what all the doctors and nurses recommended and, having tried it, I have to stand by it. :-) Good luck with the skunk.

6:29 PM  

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