Saturday, February 12, 2011

Two Lies and a Truth

This coming week is a special one for me and I will be posting a series of non-classics posts during my week-long celebration.  Back to normally scheduled programming next week.

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One of these stories is true:


1. How we met...

Nineteen years ago when I was in graduate school in history, I found myself in the emergency room a couple of days before Valentine's Day with abdominal pain. A young man in a short white coat walked into my examining room.  I lamented, "Another in the long chain of medical students and residents who have come to learn from my case of simple appendicitis...."  Because I was learning to be a teacher and because I have a very high pain threshold, I must have seemed to be a good patient to introduce to students: someone willing to answer their questions again and again.  The fact that the teaching docs knew I was getting free medical care because it was my university's hospital must have made their decision even easier.

This young man was different, though.  His eyes were mesmerizing and calming at the same time.  (They still are.)  David was charged with giving me a mental status exam and gave me three random words to remember.  He was supposed to ask me to repeat those words after five minutes, but we got so carried away in conversation that he never asked me to say them back.  (I still remember the three words to this day: Spruce Street, baseball, Palladium.)  Eventually, he ran out of the room, hastily explaining he needed to give his findings to his attending.

David returned a few minutes later and we continued our conversation.  Hours seemed to pass. He sat down and seemed to have all the time in the world to comfort me and keep me company.  We shared our intellectual interests, our favorite authors, our family backgrounds, the importance of our brothers in our lives.  We talked about our dreams, our politics, justice, social activism,  God-and-no-God, etc.

It turns out David did not have to be there at all. I was supposed to be his last quick interview.  He was finally able to leave the hospital after his long stint on call.  But he didn't.  He stayed with me, a total stranger alone in a hospital room facing surgery the next day.

He stopped by to see me after my surgery.  The next morning when I was well enough to go home, he offered to drive me the half-mile down the road to my apartment.  "Do I really know him well enough to get in his car?" I thought to myself.  His car was an old beater with a Fisher Price toy phone that he joked was his car phone.

I felt like I was glowing the whole ride home.    Of course, the answer to my question was yes--I knew him well enough, I knew him deep down, and better than people I had known all my life.

And I've got the scar to prove it.


2. Meeting the 'Rents...

Eighteen years ago when David and I were preparing for our first "real" dating Valentine's Day, his parents announced the week before that they would be passing through town on the 14th and would like to have lunch.  They suggested that David bring me to meet them for the first time.  I was excited but nervous. Were we really serious enough for a meet-the-parents session, on Valentine's Day no less?

A couple of days before they arrived, I went to Student Health with what I thought was a sinus infection.  They sent me directly to the neurologist, who sent me directly to get an MRI.  While I was in the machine, the doc headed out to grab a bite.  When I returned from the scan, I found Dr. Pleasure (his real name) holding the film in one hand and a slice of pizza in the other.  "Thank goodness," he said.  "I thought you had MS.  It's only a brain tumor."

I was immediately admitted to the hospital and my mother flew up on the 14th to be with me in time for my surgery.  Instead of me meeting David's parents that Valentine's Day, he met mine.  While I was in the operating room, the two of them and many of my grad school friends danced the evening away in the hospital waiting room.  David stayed all night to look after my mother. I loved him even more after that.

And I've got the scar to prove it.


3. Never Knit Your Man a Sweater...

Seventeen years ago on our third Valentine's Day, David and I were pretty sure we were in it for the long haul.  While he was on an away rotation (studying medicine at a hospital in a very different kind of community), I decided to knit him a sweater.  At the time I did not know the proscription against knitting your sweetie a sweater before you were really committed or he would never marry you--but I suspect it would not have fazed me in any way had I known.  Just a silly old wives' tale--and while I was ready to commit, I wasn't so sure I wanted wanted to be a real wife, with all the baggage that legal marriage carries.

Although I had knit as a child and as a teenager and as a college student, I had not knit during grad school.  Looking back, I am amazed.  There is no more perfect time to knit than graduate school.

Due to a disturbance with my hearing/vestibular nerve, I have lousy balance and fall fairly frequently. This is related to my hearing issues, too.  At the time, my balance issues were significant enough that I often used a cane to help me stabilize.  Nevertheless, I headed out into the February snow to my local yarn store, climbed down the stairs from the street, picked out some light Icelandic yarn in a couple of neutral colors, and sketched out a basic sweater pattern with the owners.  I picked up a couple of pairs of straight knitting needles--sized 6 and 8--and threw them in the bag.  After paying, I climbed back to the street.

Except I slipped on the icy stairs.

I tried to catch myself but missed the rail and fell hard onto the side of my bag.  One of the knitting needles plunged into my soft belly and pierced the skin rather deeply.  I caught a cab home and was fine after cleaning myself up, bandaging the wound, taking some serious pain relievers, and having a long sleep.

The idea of knitting a sweater had lost all its charm.  Don't knit your boyfriend a sweater, indeed.

I put the yarn in the top of my closet--creating my first real stash.  The sweater didn't get knit until the next Valentine's day, but from then on, I was hooked.  David and I have been knitted together ever since.

And I've got the scar to prove it.

*  *  *

So which is it? Send in your guesses!

The correct story will be announced on the morning of Feb. 16.

*  *  *

This post is a slightly edited version of a game I posted on my old personal blog, The Purloined Letter, several years ago.

18 comments:

  1. Mmm, I guess no.1 is true.

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  2. I'm going to guess, number one. All are great stories and if you're not a writer now, you should become one. Great imagination.

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  3. As I was reading, I thought--I was convinced--that each story was true...at the end of the third, that all were. Are they not? But how lovely!

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  4. Thank you so much, EI.

    Keep the guesses coming!

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  5. PJ: Thank goodness I don't have all those scars!

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  6. For a minute there I thought they were all 'realsies', and pondered your remarkably bad Valentine's luck! I'm guessing #3? But you did a good job of making them all sound true.

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  7. All right, now that I’ve read the title of this post again (how could I miss such an obvious clue?) I’m back to vote for story #1. I still think all the scars make a fabulous story, though.

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  8. I have to vote for #1. If it's not #1, I'm guessing #3, but I don't want to guess that one to start with because the idea of a knitting needle piercing your abdomen like that is too horrifying to think about without shuddering. :D

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  9. Nancy: I do not get along with February very well. While only one of these stories is true, all my childhood broken bones and the like happened in the month of February. Thank goodness it is a short month.

    PJ: Written on the body, no?

    Amanda: I'm an obsessed knitter to this day--and I now use only circular needles. (Are you a knitter, by any chance?)

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  10. They are all great stories--(i am out of the running because I know the answer) but the best part of the story is you are still together and still in love with each other--happy valentines day!

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  11. OfTroy: What a sweet comment! That is definitely the best part!

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  12. I so WANT number 1 to be true! It's so romantic and the sort of thing I dream of happening to my daughter! :) (Well, maybe not the operation, actually! I'll need to think that one through a bit more...)

    I can't bear the suspense!

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  13. What great fun, you clever woman! I am guessing that #2 is false. And then I stall for a moment. Hmmm. #3.

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  14. I believe #2 is the true story.

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  15. I'm finding it hard to decide between #2 and #3...I guess #1 would've been in the running had many not voted for it, but I'm perverse like that.:D

    After meeny-miney-moing I'm going for #3! (Ouch!)

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  16. I really hope #1 is the true one - so sweet! Although I've injured myself on knitting needles before, I like to think the average straight needle isn't sharp enough to pierce one's abdomen upon falling on it...but watch, you'll prove me wrong. :-)

    This is a very clever idea.

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  17. I know how to knit, but I don't do it often. periodically I get the urge, re-teach myself all those lessons I learned when I was 10, and work for awhile before quitting again. My sis-in-law is a huge knitter though!

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  18. Thanks, everybody, for your guesses. The real story is up now: http://lifetimereadingplan.blogspot.com/2011/02/whole-story.html

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