July 11, 2007
Just because there was blood gushing all over the place didn't mean we had to stop watching "Kung Fu."
At least that's what I told my wife when the carnage began. By the way, it was my blood.
It all started when I ordered the complete "Kung Fu" TV series on DVD – you know the one, with Cain, the half-American half Chinese Shaolin priest, who has a blind grandfather who calls him "Grasshopper."
Although Cain doesn't look the least bit Chinese, the bad guys have no trouble pegging him as such, calling him the derisive "Chinaman" and other ethnic taunts as he travels the Wild West looking for his half-brother (God knows where the other half is).
Each episode is the same – they open with Cain walking aimlessly, for he would never degrade a horse by mounting one. This is amazing, because even though Cain walks everywhere he manages to go from Arizona to San Francisco to Texas to Kansas without breaking a sweat. Then Cain befriends someone, someone evil does something bad to his friend, and Cain beats the living shit out of the bad guy using really cool Kung Fu shot in slo-mo.
I used to love it back when it came out in 1972, but come to think of it I was stoned out of my gourd back then. I used to like to watch eggs frying. Whatever.
So anyhow, there we were watching "Kung Fu" – check that, I was watching, Karen was staring at the TV in disgust – when I heard thunder and realized I had left the basement window open. I went down to close it, and when it wouldn't lock I punched it with the side of my fist, which went through the glass and began sprouting like a lawn sprinkler.
I consider myself very knowledgeable about medicine because my mom was a nurse, my dad was Director of Brooklyn State Hospital Nursing School, and my aunt was a nurse. My mother was, in fact, my wife's school nurse in the sixth grade (she was a virgin then – Karen, not my mom, and would remain so until the day we were married). One look at the wound and I pronounced it serious but not life threatening. It was either stem the flow of blood myself or (gasp!) go to the hospital, where I would no doubt return minus one hand but with an elbow surgically attached to my forehead. No thank you.
My first goal was to create a tourniquet. I grabbed a dish towel – "Don't use that I just did the wash!" Karen warned.
"OK, let's just stand here and think of what I can use to tie around my arm while I BLEED TO FREAKING DEATH!"
I tied it tightly around, then wrapped another around the hand. "Go out to the truck, I have a first aid kit in the back seat," I told Karen. She came back with a road emergency kit, complete with a blinking amber light and a flare kit. "I don't think that's it," I said tenderly. "Now back away from the flare."
Karen grew faint. "Keep it up in the air! Keep it up in the air!" she kept saying.
"Why?" I finally asked.
"That's what they say to do," she said, "they" probably being the good folk at Punjabi Junior College of Medicine and Poultry Carving.
I tied the bandage tightly around the biggest of the wounds and put Band-aids on the smaller ones. I put a blob of anti-bacteria cream on the big one, covered it with whatever clean gauze I could find, and then taped it all together.
"It's stable now," I announced.
"Can you drive?" she asked.
I looked at her quizzically. "Why?"
"You have to go to the hospital."
This is the fundamental difference between women and men. Women are constantly fretting about stuff like this. Even the younger girls in our office at The Independent run to the doctor, the chiropractor, the yoga (or is it yogi?) instructor. They have muscle relaxers and pills for congestion and headache remedies.
Me? I'm old school. It'll either kill me, or I'll kill it.
"Honey," I said with that gentle voice men use when they know their wives have logic on their side, "Cain is about five minutes away from kicking the crap out of three guys. Get me a nice snifter of cognac and let's enjoy what's left of the night. Tomorrow I'll deal with the hand."
"No!" she insisted. "You can get gangrene!"
"Ahh, Grasshopper," I replied. "Is not the soul immune to earth's follies?"
I was aware, however, that the glass was dirty and old and that I would probably need a tetanus shot. "Honey, it's just a scratch, trust me. Now about that cognac . . ."
The next morning I went to the good folks at Wainscott Walk-in. On the rare occasion I do see a doctor I like to impress him with my knowledge of the "Biz" as we medical insiders call it. I told him how I cleaned out the wound, stabilized it, put antibacterial ointment on it, and dressed it. No, I didn't have gangrene, I assured him and yes, I did need a tetanus shot, I recommended.
"You know a lot about medicine, do you?" he asked.
I nodded knowingly.
"Is that why you covered this with a Carefree panty liner?"