Just back from hospital again. Glass of wine. Honestly, it's becoming a routine. I feel so typical here, part of a demographic stereotype. The Jersey Shore types may have their Gym Tan Laundry routine -- for me and my group it would be, what: hospital, liquor store, home office? (Sidebar -- definition of a successful piece of art is one you can reference with minimal exposure. I have seen a total of ten minutes of Jersey Shore. Ed inexplicably fascinated. More on that later.)
Not so funny moment in hospital today. Or maybe it was. Larry David rather than Jersey Shore, though. Here's what happened. Mir's mom was in for a series of tests (she's one of the parents in trouble I talked about last time) and I was chatting in the room with her while Mir went to the atrium for coffee. (Isn't that funny -- I was going to say lobby. Hospitals don't have lobbies, but I have spent so much time there that the place is starting to feel like a hotel.) Anyway, the lady in the next bed caught my eye and asked if I would get her a glass of water. She's a quiet nervous type who doesn't seem to have many visitors. I helped her to a drink and she thanked me with a nice smile. The air is so dry in here, she said, slurping greedily through her straw. I nodded, and then felt my own smile fall off my face and land on the floor with a crash. Over the lady's bed was a sign that said: DO NOT GIVE THIS PATIENT WATER EVEN IF SHE ASKS FOR IT.
Like I said, Larry David. I have seldom been more horrified. I snatched at the styrofoam cup, but it was already empty. What had I done? I stood there frozen, honestly expecting her to start frothing at the mouth or something.
Hey, I said, finally, you aren't supposed to have any water!
I pointed at the sign. The lady dismissed it with a gesture.
Phhht, she said, or something like that, and turned over.
Now what? I am no great believed in rules for the sake of rules, but this was a hospital. Not a hotel. Lives were on the line here. The no water rule might be important. I couldn't just walk away, could I? Could I?
I decided -- I know how dumb this sounds -- to compromise. I asked the lady if she could get out of bed. She rolled back over to stare at me.
What? she asked.
Can you walk? I asked.
Of course I can walk. Do you think I'm a cripple? she said.
Still no frothing. I smiled inanely. Okay, I thought. So she was capable of getting her own water. So the drink didn't have to have been my fault. And she seemed fine. A little tetchier than before, but that probably wasn't because of the water. That was me.
I went back to Mir's mom. But for the rest of the visit I kept checking across the room. Mir commented on my nervousness.
Maybe we ought to take you off coffee, she said.