Posts Tagged ‘Hallmark’

Valentine’s

February 14, 2011

Andrew Hicks

I don’t know if it was coincidence in 2003 that I broke up with* my girlfriend of like three months right before Valentine’s Day. I dodged the bullet. And, up until Tiffany came along, I was single every other Valentine’s in my twenties. I was a service industry guy, too, so Valentine’s meant a busy, busy day where the restaurant was fully staffed to deal with all the people who only go out to eat on Hallmark holidays and annual Jesus-related occasions. I was too busy making money to mourn my single status.

In fact, if you’d talked to me at the time, depending on my Blood Alcohol Content, you might’ve heard my speech about how being single and loving yourself was the most simple, sure, enjoyable life imaginable. You had the freedom to do whatever whenever with whoever. I was also big on advocating regular masturbation to any dude who altered his behavior or stressed out over women and sex. The way I saw it, masturbation was just good maintenance, like changing the oil in your car. If your car needed an oil change every 15 miles.

Of course, I changed my tune when I met my wife. Tiffany and I are evenly matched when it comes to not placing a great deal of importance on holiday ritual; we both get more stressed out than gratified by the demands of holiday gift giving. Not to mention, we’ve pretty much been broke at every point in our relationship to date. So I pour my heart into writing a short novel on the inside flap of a card, and I try my hardest to be the nicest, best guy I can be. We have some married-people sex and occasionally share a ton of chocolate, and you know that makes me happy.

My new favorite thing to do when these Hallmark and Jesus holidays come around is to send all the grandparents and extended family a homemade Smilebox card. Valentine’s is only the second occasion I’ve uploaded a ton of cute, digital baby pictures and customized them into cards for family, but it’s easier, better and way cheaper than walking to the dirty Mom and Pop grocery store up the street and choosing from their supply of cards from 1991. (SAMPLE CARD TEXT: I Hope You Return Soon From The Desert Storm Ground War, Child Or Spouse.)

The cards are only a dollar, so I do like to use them as ironic, kitschy examples of living in a small town, but that kind of novelty only gets you so far.

TOP TEN NERD VALENTINE’S DAY ACTIVITIES
(from A Year in the Life of a Nerd, 2/14/1995)

10. Decide whether to spend day with Shelia or Debbie (my pet squid and iguana).
9. Drown sorrows in plate of “cheez fries.”
8. Pose as 12-year-old girl on Internet.
7. Wear pink heart-shaped glasses and matching pocket protector.
6. Make out with photograph of Heather Locklear.
5. Buy giant box of chocolates. Devour.
4. Drag out “Polka Love Serenade” CD.
3. Burn Barbie doll at stake.
2. Ignore phone calls from Jocelyn Elders saying it’s perfectly okay to spend Valentine’s Day by yourself.
1. Three words: “Love Boat” marathon.

*The whole affair was an appallingly juvenile exercise by the both of us. The breakup happened over email. She was all, “I’m taking all these classes right now, and I’m working a lot, and I’m soooo busy. I wonder if I even have time in my life for a boyfriend. Maybe we should just be friends.” And I was all, “Hey, that sounds like a great idea, because I don’t really have fun when I’m with you, and I definitely don’t have fun when you’re not around because it’s always hanging over my head that you’re jealous of anyone and everyone I party with.” I had an out, and I jumped right on it, but we both insisted we’d remain friends. As if we were friends before. As if we could ever have stood each other’s company if we weren’t playing the dating game for our own different selfish reasons.

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Ambien and physical therapy

September 16, 2010

One thing about having little babies bouncing about – any kind of travel activity becomes a bigger burden. Trips to see family and friends in St. Louis are a big production, and now they usually only occur on major holidays. For everything Tiffany and I pack for our kids, there’s something basic that gets underrepresented or completely forgotten.

Well, this time around, we had planned to leave Saturday and return Sunday. Thanks to the compound ankle fracture, surgery and hospitalization, we didn’t make it back to Springfield until tonight. That’s an extra three-day stay on one day’s supplies. My in-laws’ washer, dryer and dishwasher got a workout. For my part, I wore the same clothes for 95% of what was a 75%-immobile visit.* I did finally strap a black trash bag and ample masking tape around my leg cast and take a shower today. Despite awkward accessibility issues, it was the most satisfying shower of my life.

My contribution to the Getting Out Of Town effort today consisted of feeding, burping and holding Silas while sitting up in bed. Oh, and moral support. Lots of moral support. I’d like to think, in this dark hour, the quality and quantity of my moral support makes me positively undivorceable. So what if Tiffany’s doing 9/10ths of the work and making 100% of the money these next two months? I’m heaping on that moral support! With a thickness!

I’m here to say, my wife is an all-star. She has earned a great big Thank You gift. I just need to have her help me into the car, drive me to the Hallmark store or wherever, get out my walker for me, carry around whatever I decide to buy, figure out how we’re going to pay for it, help me back into the car and probably wrap the gift for me, too. I’m a horrible gift wrapper.

I stayed adequately doped up throughout my hospital stay. They’ll just keep offering drugs to you left and right, as long as you’re able to tell them your name and birth date. That knowledge is what separates the casual bedridden hospital doper from the hopeless junkie inpatient.

All I wanted to do was sleep. I attributed that to the fact that my brain and bloodstream were drowning in morphine, Vicodin, Cephalexin, Warfarin, stool softener**, Citalopram, Lisinopril and whatever crazy chemicals are in Diet Sierra Mist.

And, knowing I wasn’t moving from that Craftmatic adjustable bed for a couple days, I took whatever pharmaceutical suggestions the nurse offered. NURSE: Want some Ambien?  ME: Um, yeah. Buy the ticket, take the ride.

The Ambien decision turned to regret as my inner audio feed played back the list of announcer-read side effects from the TV commercial. Particularly the one about, “Episodes of walking, eating and driving have been reported with no recollection of the event.”

The eating and driving weren’t of much relevance, but suppose I ended up in some hyper-unconscious stupor, dreaming I was the lead in Chariots of Fire 2010, and decided to act it out in a darkened hospital room on my freshly operated-upon ankle? Tiffany instantly dismissed this as comically paranoid but asked the nurse to keep an eye on me.

The nurse popped into my doorway seconds later. “Seriously?” she asked.

I said, “What, the TV announcer’s a liar?”

“Okay, here’s what I’ll do.” The nurse pulled the chair up to my bed. I looked at her, rapt with attention. “I’ll sit right here until you fall asleep, and I’ll hold your hand the entire time.”

Sarcasm might not win the war, but it won this battle hands down. Well played, smartass overnight nurse. Turned out the Ambien put me into about three hours of restful slumber and left me wide awake at two or so in the morning. I asked for more the next night. It had a nice side effect where you have semi-vivid dreams while you’re still awake. That, to me, is better than watching TV.

The nurses and doctors all seemed astonished at how I was handling the pain. I only rated myself over a 2 out of 10 a couple times. They warned me, though – you’ve got physical therapy coming. That’s when it’ll hurt. Well, Day One of physical therapy*** consisted of me moving from the bed out to the hallway and back to the bathroom via walker.

I discovered that, sure, having a couple people supervise you while you maneuver yourself onto the toilet to pee sitting down is a minor convenience. But being able to pee into a plastic jug directly from your bed? That’s a freaking godsend. I plan to pee into the plastic jug indefinitely. At least until the cast comes off, if not until the day I die.

Day Two of physical therapy involved teaching me to climb a few very short stairs that were nothing like the stairs I will encounter in day to day activity. I did great on those low-impact mock stairs. In real life, I was doing this ridiculous upward butt-scoot move that resembled really, really bad rap girl audition dancing.

Now we’re home, and the real fun is set to begin. These meds are still making me sleep too much, and my recovery efforts are making me feel I have way too little to contribute. But this ordeal has reinforced my belief that family is my greatest asset in life, that the grace of God is real, and that I couldn’t make it a day without my sometimes bizarre and childish sense of humor.

* = The bloody sock that was at Ground Zero of the ankle break did not make the trip back. I’m sure the Smithsonian of the future will be downright devastated I didn’t save that historical gem.

** = I still haven’t pooped. Glad you asked?

*** = Simple irony: My physical therapist needed a speech therapist.