Even though I wax on about him, this post is not actually about Ernest Hemingway. It's actually about a clean, well-lighted place, where I was last night. But I can never say that phrase without completely veering off conversational course. You see, I love that story, and I love Ernest Hemingway. The writer. I never knew the person, although I heard enough stories to make me wonder if he'd have been the Julie Friend Type A.
Let me explain what I mean by Julie Friend Type A. I have---how shall I put it---a sort of pattern when it comes to friends. I have dedicated my 30s to changing my SOP and MO WRT friends (sheesh louise, look at all those acronyms in a row! I think I've lived at NASA for too long!). Through this, I have learned to recognize my Pitfalls and have instituted a series of Red Flags, which, when I ignore them, are replaced by the Get Out While the Getting Is Good alarm system.
So, these days, I avoid Friend Type A. I'm into mutually satisfactory friendships now, which Julie Friend Type A decidely is not. It is the friendship wherein I attempt to win the "Best Supporting Friend No Matter What Cost to Myself" award.
I recognize a major personal flaw is my tendency in life to cast myself in the chorus. The best friend of the lead. The secondary character. This by no means indicates I am a quiet, background sort of person. (HA! BWAHAHA! Anyone who knows me is laughing hysterically and spraying drinks on their keyboards right now at that thought.) What it means is I don't actually believe I have It, you know, It, what It takes to be the lead. I recognize I am the person the It person needs around to make It.
I'm like the Al Gore to Bill Clinton. I'm the Aaron Altman or Jane Craig, in Broadcast News, never Tom. I'm the editor to the successful writer.
So when the It person comes along---the talented, admired, charismatic person---I am often as blinded as the rest of the people by the charm and pomp. Enter Julie Friend Type A, stage left. (Note: Villains traditionally enter from stage left.)
However, I am no sycophant and I can prove useful, so more than once I have been designated as the Friend I Can Always Count On Just a Little Too Much. Because---I must confess---I always get more than a little emotionally involved.
I look at the stories about Ernest Hemingway the person, and I think, oh yeah, I'd be his friend. He'd be my Julie Friend Type A. No doubt. I'd do my best to be the wall that held him up. I'd love him a little and resent him a lot, eventually, and I'd spend a few years trying to cut slack and then trying to decide whether I should stay or go. I'd eventually go, and there'd be hard feelings, I imagine. I'd probably end up a villain in a story called "I Needed You for MY Drama, which, as Usual, Trumped You and Of Course I Can't Be There For YOU, you are My Rock, but I Needed You and You Weren't There for Me, and Now You Call ME Selfish, When It's You Who are Selfish, I had a Hangnail, and I Needed You To Go With Me to the Nail Salon, and Who in the World Thinks Being Hospitalized for Brain Aneurysm Surgery is a Legitimate Excuse to ABANDON a Friend In Need," which is pretty much the bottom line, isn't it. Julie Friend Type A is the Friend Perpetually in Need who just never can reciprocate because honestly, nobody exists beyond the end of his or her nose.
Hypothetically, of course. Not that I've ever been told that my self-preservation leavetaking was inspiration for artistic frenzied fury and creative outpouring. And not that I am passive agressively referring to anyone particular. At least not recently. Ha ha.
And, Al Gore can succeed on his own, as can Bill. Jane and Aaron's talents were just as important to the world as Tom's, and ultimately a sort of partnership evolved, as it can, sometimes. In some way, it's always about my history as much as it is about the story, if you know what I mean.
It's a balance, friendship, and anything, actually. Any one of us at any time can find ourselves in a position where life is sort of like a fog, and your visibility is pretty limited. They key is to live mindfully, right, and if it can't always be good, fair and even in every moment, in the end, somehow it has to balance out to okay, right?
I'm actually hoping that about parenting, more than friendship. Hey, I did warn you that this post wasn't really about Ernest Hemingway. I just had to work up my courage to talk about the clean, well-lighted place I found myself in last night, and how that was the big metaphor for how my parenting walls sort of feel like they are crumbling right now.
Last night, we were in the Emergency Room. Yep! On New Year's Eve.
It was, sadly, a necessity. Patience was sick.
We did our best to manage at home since everything we would usually get help from was closed until January 2, but by 2 a.m. Sunday/Monday, Patience was too much worse, and we called the pediatrician's emergency number.
We were directed to the ER. I called ahead to the two closest hospitals, feeling dread about the night (My Drunk Ass will be On the Roads With You and Your Precious Child) and the time (Clubs Just Closed and I've Had Plenty of Time to Get My Ass Good and Drunk) and the crowds (I Drove My Drunk Ass Through the Display Window of the Rug Store x 200 major trauma victims in the ER).
The larger one with the bigger resources said, "It's New Year's, how badly do you have to come in tonight? Is it...life-threatening?" That pretty much said it all, but I persisted, "Ummm, well the doctor said...and I really feel we need to Do Something..." She replied with, "We accept all emergency patients, can not reject you...so, come on in but GOOD LUCK!" and cackled, with a snort that sounded suspiciously like, "SUCKER!"
I called the smaller one, which was closer anyway. The lady there was more sympathetic. You could hear her fighting to follow procedure versus help me. Eventually, she said, "Hurry! If you can get here fast, it will be okay...for now. You might beat the drunk driver traumas. The clubs are letting out and we're just waiting for the first victims..."
We pulled in ahead of two ambulances, and registered just before the crowd. We got to witness the arrival of the "too drugged to know his own name" car wreck victim, the "broke the back of my head bleeding all over the place" guy, the "I drank too much and got in a fight that I lost badly" guy and other various bodies that accumulated in the nearby rooms and hallways over the two hours we sat in Trauma Room D.
It was quite the Science Channel meets Fox reality education for Patience.
"What's wrong with that man?" Patience asked, "What did he do to his head?"
She continued with:
"How come that guy is talking like that? Does his mouth have a boo boo?"
"What is he throwing?"
"Ooooh those are Not Nice Words!"
"What's that alarm? Is there a fire?"
"What are all the policeman doing?"
"Do I have alcohol in my blood mommy?"
"Is that a dog, mommy? No? It's a person? What's wrong with him, why is he moaning that way?"
"Did the nurse say paralyzed? What is that?"
"What does car wreck mean?"
"Why is the nurse yelling at that man?"
"Mommy, he PUKED! Is his tummy sick?"
"Mommy, there is something weird floating in the toilet."
"Mommy! That man has blood all over him!"
"Look, mommy, his eyes are closed, is that man dead?"
Holy macarenas saints preserve me.
Eventually, her patience ran out.
"Mommy, I want to go home. I don't like it here. Something is wrong with all of these people."
Luckily, shortly after that, the doctor arrived. He gave us two minutes. He confirmed what we knew (Patience was sick) and gave us a prescription for antibiotics.
It was now 5:00 a.m.
The dread I'd felt about having to drive in was slightly less, until the check-out lady said, "Be safe. This is when the most accidents happen. People who think they have sobered up since 2 a.m. are out driving now. Those guys can be worse than the really drunk ones.
But it was clean, and well-lighted.
All text and images exclusive copyright 2006 by Julie Pippert.
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