Down In The Emergency Room: A Tale of Fragile DadnessSerge Bielanko
This afternoon, around two, there I was: cursing bad at the kitchen island. For like twenty seconds straight.
It’s a nice island, I guess, but what do I know.
I’ve never had an island before. Where I grew up, people didn’t have them. They had big clunky tables made out of a strange partial wood/formica blend, with thick round metal legs that were always cold and distant like gun barrels against your summer skin.
This island thing is new for me, and I am guessing for a lot of people. I blame HGTV. Hell, I blame them for the whole country apple green paint thing too, but whatever.
Anyways, I was hollering at the island after my daughter bashed her eye socket on one of it’s protruding corners. I knew it was bound to happen; it was inevitable. We wanted to be ‘kitchen cool’. We had to have a ‘butcher block’ island.
Violet was crying and she had a little blood on her eyebrow and her mom was holding her tight and I knew she was gonna live, but I still spazzed out because I am a spazzy dad and I don’t give a rat’s peehole what you think of that.
There was trauma here. I was traumatized.
And somewhere out in the house Violet probably was too, I was thinking.
” You MFer,” I hollered at the island. “You stupid-ass Ikea p.o.s!” God, it pissed me off. Big fancy kitchen island.
“I hate you,” I told it, point blank.. “I’m cutting your corners off with a dull sawzall, so whatdoyouthinkofthat??!! Sohowyoulikemenow???!!”
The damn island…it just just sat there, in the middle of our kitchen floor, like an idiot. Then I heard a tiny voice.
“I’m surry dadeeee.”
It was coming from behind me. It was Henry, his tiny eyeballs looking up at me. And he was serious. I must have scared him, yelling at the breakfast station.
I scooped him up, my heart busting mallets against my xylophone ribs. I felt so confused.When you are being an a-hole, your mind tends to substitute confusion for realization. After all, it’s way better to be a flutter than to have it dawn on you that you are a damn fool, right?
“It’s okay, little man,” I whispered in his ear. “Daddy’s not mad at you!”
And then I added,” Daddy’s mad at the furniture.”
Walking out of the E.R., they are the big stars, the kids are.
Henry is in the same pajamas he’s been wearing for two days, his skeleton pjs. He is a little leftover Halloween skeleton in black work boots, his mullet flapping in the Emergency breeze floating down the corridors and out of the rooms where I see old men staring up at the ceiling and dazed looks on the faces of college kids who are having a crap day.
Violet is ‘line leader’ like she always has to be, her one hand gripping the new stuffed animal that they gave her when we checked in (a rainforest monkey?), her other hand holding her mom’s.
Nurses all smile and coo at them,and Violet and Henry eat it all up, saying things like,” I’m all better because I am fixed up!”
Henry rips away from my hand and I let him go for a stretch, watch him as he almost slams into a lady custodian who is smiling the tired dedicated smile of someone who is genuinely happy to see a young crazy in the midst of all this blues and difficulty.
Different nurses ask us how we made out. Did we need stitches? No, we tell them, not yet; not this time; no first stitches today. They let out their ‘hoorays!’ and their ‘yays!’ and I can tell that Violet is quite pleased with her performance here this afternoon. When we had walked into the kitchen after school today, who would have thunk that she would be performing an afternoon matinee, you know?
I sure didn’t.
And she sure didn’t either.
In the Honda, we all drive through the grey afternoon towards our house again, towards our dogs probably lying all depressed by the front door because they just live for that two or three second window when we all arrive home and we come inside and there is always that faint remote chance that something new and exciting is gonna come in the house with us. There is always that slight possibility that one of us will be wearing the Lady Gaga meat suit when we stumble in from the autumn afternoon.
But, it never happens. Each of our arrivals home is, in it’s own little way, a massive disappointment to them.
We head back towards the house, towards the cheese in the cheese drawer. I buy the New York Super Sharp Cheddar simply because it says New York and sharp on the package.
Whatever, we all like it, the kids eat it, and now as we burn down the highway, the day slipping away, up and over the bleak mountains in all of it’s post-hurricane blah-ness, Violet quietly asks from the backseat, “Can I have grilled cheese for dinner, Mommy?”
We head back towards the house, towards the kitchen island. The island we bought off a retired guy on Craigslist and we had to drive like a hundred miles to get and that I liked but I know I will never be able to like the same.
I want to blame it. For hurting her. I need to blame something, someone, it seems, and so I blame the island. I blame the wood and the screws and the glue and whatever.
It’s all so juvenile, I know. I don’t need you to tell me that.
It’s all so lame and dumb for a grown man to have stood there cussing at the overhanging corner of a butcher block top that he put there himself, with his own two hands.
But it is what it is, dude.
It is what it is.
You can also find Serge on his personal blog, Thunder Pie.
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