The 5 Worst People You Could Meet in the ER

When I left my apartment at 11pm this past Saturday to take my small dog, Jack, out for his night walk, I never expected that a mere hour later, I would be sitting in the waiting room of the Lenox Hill ER with a bleeding, lacerated eyelid. Long story short: in an effort to prevent Jack from engaging in a toothy grappling match with an even smaller dog, I picked him up, at which point he started thrashing around like a catfish, scratching my arms and accidentally catching his tooth on my poor, delicate eyelid in the process.

Of course, the only appropriate response to having my eyelid torn open by my dog’s fang was for me to immediately take him home and then collapse to my knees in my front hall while calling out weakly for my fiancé. I vaguely recall muttering the phrase “he hurt me” around 15 times from my spot on the floor before I finally decided to quit whining and have a look in my bathroom mirror to assess the damage. There, I was confronted with a rather gruesome sight: a bruised, bloodied and sliced right eyelid that definitely had to be looked at by a doctor ASAP and possibly stitched back together. I burst into tears all over again, not because my eye hurt (though you know it did), but because I was terrified that I was about to walk into an ER that would be packed with sick and/or badly injured people. While my fiancé and I hurtled down the West Side Highway in the cab to the hospital, I mentally compiled a list of the 5 worst possible archetypes that I could encounter in the ER. Here’s what I came up with:

  1. The Puker: I have a severe vomit phobia, one that’s so bad that I will switch subway cars if I think there’s even the slightest chance that another passenger is about to throw up. Owing to my severe aversion to barf, I was extremely worried that I would have to sit in the waiting room next to someone who was spewing uncontrollably, possibly into her handbag out of sheer desperation. I decided that if I walked into the ER and saw any single hint that someone was throwing up, my only course of action would be to accept the fact that I would now have to spend the rest of my life with a Fetty Wap eye and go back home.
  2. The Wailer: I get that everyone deals with pain and stress differently. With that said, it would be really shitty to have to deal with your own pain and stress while someone else is howling histrionically right next to you. I can deal with low moans, sure, but I knew that if I were forced to listen to someone caterwaul with reckless abandon while waiting to see the doctor, I would have no choice but to put that person in a sleeper hold and lower them gently to the floor, blissfully quiet at last.
  3. The Belligerent, Rich Drunk: Unless I’m drunk myself, I absolutely cannot stand drunk people. They’re loud, they’re sloppy, and more often than not, they’ve forgotten their ability to regulate their emotions back at the club. Given that the Lenox Hill ER is located in the West Village, one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in New York City, I had visions of being trapped in the waiting room with some entitled, boisterous, wealthy douchebag in a whale belt who had injured himself while doing something like sabering the cork out of a bottle of Dom Perignon. I actually wasn’t too worried about having to confront this archetype, mostly because I was pretty sure that someone else would beat me to the punch – literally.
  4. The Chatty Cathy: For some reason, strangers in every country I’ve been to always insist on striking up conversations with me. I think it might be because my version of “Bitchy Resting Face” is “Friendlier Resting Face Than I Intend to Have,” and I’ve got a habit of raising my eyebrows in repose, which must look like a signal that I’m a bit simple and would be happy to talk to literally anyone because it means they’ve noticed me. Listen, I’m as gregarious as the next guy, but there’s a time and a place for small talk, and it sure as hell isn’t while you’re waiting to be seen by a ER doc at midnight on a Saturday when you’re wearing your pajamas and bleeding from the face. I’ve often thought about the best way to stop an unwanted conversation before it starts, and I’ve come to the conclusion that this problem is most quickly solved by listening to the Chatty Cathy’s opening line, pausing momentarily, and then responding by squealing like a pig as loudly as I physically can. I’ve never tried it, but I’m pretty sure that this technique would also be a great way to get someone to give me their seat on a packed subway.
  5. Brad the Impaled: Every now and then, there’ll be a story in the news about some luckless fool who accidentally impaled himself on a spiked metal fence and had to be rushed to the ER with a 3′ long iron pole sticking out of his abdomen. Every time I hear a story like this, I physically shudder with horror, and I live in fear that one day I’ll be unlucky enough to witness this kind of horrific mishap, because that’s some straight up Final Destination shit right there and I don’t need any curses passed onto me, thank you very much. I think I would actually faint if I had to wait in the ER next to someone who had been impaled, and while one would hope that this kind of injury would grant you an immediate admission to the hospital, I do vividly remember a particularly horrifying anecdote that a doctor I used to work with once told me about a former patient of his. The guy had come into the ER, waited patiently for a few hours until his name was finally called, and only THEN revealed that he had A 10″ KITCHEN KNIFE LODGED IN HIS GODDAMN BACK. Shudder.

Miraculously, when I finally arrived at the ER on Saturday, it was completely empty – completely! – which meant that all of my neurotic planning had been for naught. Plus, I didn’t even have to have my eye stitched, although I did have to have it surgically glued together and bandaged with an unsightly, Nelly-circa-2003 steri-strip that I have to keep on my eyelid for a full week.

In closing, this experience taught me two important lessons: one, that I shouldn’t pick up a dog who is in the throes of a blind fury, and two, that I shouldn’t worry trouble until trouble is barfing into her Kate Spade tote next to me.

The Fangs Top 3 Tips for Stress Relief

I recently read a Vice article about a Millennial life coach. Now, when I say that she’s a Millennial life coach, I mean that she is literally a goddamned 21-year-old who thinks that listening to a few Oprah podcasts and meditating about love for a year has qualified her to tell other people how to live their lives. Clearly, she’s successful enough to have been profiled in Vice, so I got to thinking: if some whippersnapper with a yoga mat and a smudge stick can make a career out of offering life advice, why can’t I? Without further adieu, here are The Fangs Top 3 Tips for Stress Relief.

  1. Feeling anxious about money, love or your own mortality? Take a nap! Sleeping is a great way to avoid responsibilities and ignore the festering wound that is your life. Try using a lavender eye mask and ear plugs during your naps if you want to feel like you’re dodging that loan shark’s threatening calls from a lush field in Provence.
  2. Stressed about having to go out? Just stay home! All too often, activities like “hanging out with supportive, loving friends” and “having new experiences that change how you view the world” get in the way of doing more important things, like binge-eating Oreos and reading old Daily Mail articles about celebrity outfits. It’s simple: don’t make any plans that you know you’ll regret making. Actually, don’t make any plans at all. Commit to absolutely nothing. Live life like the majestic, mahogany bear who needs to hibernate a lot that you really are.
  3. Can’t stop ruminating about the past? Don’t! Constantly perseverating on past grievances increases your tolerance for pain, and fixating on what’s already happened and can never be changed is a great way to trim the fat off your pool of friends. If you only talk about people that wronged you in high school, even though you’re 35, and you hold tightly to an ever-growing collection of petty grudges, then without much effort, most of your friends will stop calling and texting. Then, you won’t have to feel bad about ignoring all of their calls and texts, because there won’t be any to ignore!

These 3 tips have really helped me on my journey to living my best life, and I hope that they help you, too. Now go put on a stained robe and get back in bed!

PSA: Don’t You Dare Drink Hot Coffee on the Train

The other morning on my way to work, I witnessed an interaction that forced me to have a horrifying moment of honest introspection about myself. Picture the scene: I’d managed to snag a seat tucked into the corner on a packed, local subway. As straphangers flooded the train at 96th street, a middle-aged woman staggered onto the car and rushed over to stand right in front of me. She kind of reminded me of Gilda Radner in the face, was wearing what can only be described as zany purple tights, and she had, like, 15 clips of life-sized butterflies distributed throughout her scraggly salt and pepper hair.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good butterfly myself, but butterfly clips in the hair past a certain age give off a real whacko, ‘Whatever Happened to Baby Jane’ vibe, so I was paying close attention to Madame Butterfly when a very WASPy woman in her forties got on the train with a hot cup of coffee in her hand and stood right next to her. The minute she stopped moving, M.B. immediately recoiled in disgust, threw her hands up in the air theatrically and loudly shouted, “Well, DON’T do THAT!” as she hurried to another spot near the door.

Caroline Nierman
Don’t even THINK about bringing that hot coffee on the subway.

The woman with the coffee looked mildly perplexed and a bit insulted until M.B. gestured to her from her new station across the aisle and said, “You have a hot cup of COFFEE in your hand, and I KNEW you were going to spill it all over me!” Obviously, I was loving this exchange; it was super weird for M.B. to scold a stranger for bringing coffee on the train, but it was extremely enjoyable to watch the one who was being scolded as she silently stewed about it.

Then, in a very That’s So Raven moment, I had a premonition of my future, a future in which I, too, become so neurotic that it seems reasonable to accost strangers on the train about their own life choices because I need to assuage my own irrational anxieties. I never want to be that woman, but I can imagine a Sliding Doors version of my life in which I become her. So promise me this: if I ever try to leave the house with an abundance of insect hair clips in my hair and a Metrocard in my hand, please sit me down and make me re-read this blog post.

Extreme Attachment Parenting on the 2 Train

I sat across from a woman on the 2 train the other day whose 60 pound four-year-old was buckled into a harness that was slung across her chest. She produced a small pouch of juice from her Mary Poppins bag and proceeded to hold it up for him so he could drink from the straw without exerting literally any physical effort. Listen, lady – I’m all for being an involved parent, but damn – if your kid looks old enough to register for his PSATs and is physically developed enough to have a wet dream, he’s too old for you to be schlepping him around the city in a forward-facing papoose. And if you don’t even make him hold up his own 8 oz. juice, you’re going to have one shrunken, atrophied little college freshman on your hands (or chest, as the case may be) come college move-in day (in, like, 5 years).

Great, Now I Might Be Living Over a Portal to Hell

You can imagine how pleased I was when I stepped into my building’s lobby the other day and was greeted by what appeared to be The Book of Shadows sitting on the communal table by my elevator. It’s kind of a thing in this building – people leave their old crap on the table downstairs in the hope that their 1970’s guide to parenting or half-consumed jar of Nutella will go to good use, insead of where it belongs (in the trash).

Sure, the cover of the book says that it’s something benign, pleasant, even: The Standard Treasury of the World’s Greatest Music. With that being said, I’m pretty sure that given its faded, burgundy cover and spooky vibes that this book contains all of the secrets to the world’s evil and should never be opened by the weak, fleshy hand of a mortal.

We’ll put it like this: I just hope that B and I are out for a walk with Jack when some idiot finally comes along, cracks open the cover and turns my building into a portal to hell.

Why I’m Against Rolling Backpacks

I would rather my kid have a scoliotic back for the rest of his life from carrying heavy textbooks as a tween than for him to have to carry the internal shame of having been the kid with the rolling backpack, because that shit is way heavier. Once I saw a kid with a rolling backpack fall head-first down a flight of stairs, and let me tell you, that backpack was close to lethal when it landed on top of him. I’ll never forget the tableau of the poor guy as he lay in a crumpled heap at the foot of the stairs, his cuffed sweatpants exposing his skinny ankles in all of their tube-sock-clad glory, the fallen backpack open next to him with papers falling out. This truly depressing sight crystallized my opinion that the rolling backpack is more a form of cruel and unusual punishment than a helpful tool to prevent your child from slipping a disc.

Human Ken Determined to be Fiercer Than Human Barbie

The real, human versions of Barbie and Ken met each other for the first time the other day, and The Daily Mail wrote an article about how much they each hated the way the other one looked. See the news story here.

Here’s the problem, though: Human Ken isn’t Human Ken as much as he is a clone of Janice Dickinson. Go look at the photo of him in the link above and then come back and click on this one. Am I wrong? They have the same face, for crying out loud.

It would’ve saved this guy an awful lot of time if he’d just taken a photograph of Janice Dickinson throwing shade to his plastic surgeon and said, “Give me that face, but make it even FIERCER.”

A Threatening Cypriot Surprise from Sophia

The e-mail subject line “Just don’t let the days past you by without enjoying them to the fullest!” seems vaguely like a threat. I can imagine a silver-haired witch saying it with an Eastern European accent and a toothless smile while handing me a cursed trinket. So obviously, when an e-mail with that subject line arrived in my inbox, I really had to click on it. I was met with the following missive: 

Hello, mighty man! How are you?
I feel so lonely these days! I guess you would make a hot company for any playful babe like me! Why dont we meet online to get each other better? I have a number of thrilling nude pics at this dating website. Please be there for me! The registration is free. I will tell you everything in a private chat, sugar!
Cannot wait to see you! >>>>>>>   

Now
———-
To not receive this message again, visit the page below:

or write to:
Nautell Capital Limited, Stasinou, 1 Mitsi Building 1, 1st floor, Office 4 Plateia Eleftherias, Nicosia Cyprus 106

It took me a few reads, but I finally came to the realization that there is a singular line that makes this e-mail creepier than most ridiculous spam. Yes, there, in the middle of all this sex chat and weird adjectives like ‘playful’ and ‘thrilling,’ is the sentence, “Please be there for me!” 

This is the point at which the e-mail goes from being a funny romp in the world of cyber solicitation to something out of an episode of Law & Order: SVU, Cyprus Edition. Does anyone actually think that watching some chick take her clothes off on a webcam constitutes ‘being there’ for her? That person is a shitty person. Or is this a plea for help? Most importantly, why are you making me feel weird and responsible for this bot’s safety, weird sex website? This is a very bad marketing campaign, seriously.

Also, please notice that the e-mail ends with the words, “Cannot wait to see you…Now.” That is fucking terrifying and undoubtedly threatening. Is the Sophia of the e-mail address about to show up at my apartment dressed like a rabbit, or pick me up tonight in a converted taxi cab like the Bone Collector? Jesus. Way to give me a panic attack, Nautell Capital Limited. I’m going elsewhere for my viruses. 

Hi handsome! ;)

There’s nothing like a spamalicious e-mail to put me in a good mood. This gem arrived in my inbox earlier today:

Hi handsome! 😉

If you looking forward about spending great time in a company of funny, cute chick then I’m waiting for u!
I really liked ur photo shots and that’s why decided to send this mail! I’m sure that you wouldn’t stay disappointed after staring at mine too.
So, I wait for you to answer this message and who knows we will go somewhere, drink some vodka, talk about different subjects and who knows I gonna invite you to visit my life! 😉

You can find my profile here: xxxxxxx

With kisses,
Trinity

First of all, just who does Trinity assume I am? “Hi handsome”?! Jeez. This reminds me of that time a waiter called me ‘Sir.’

Furthermore, I’m pretty sure that ‘going somewhere,’ ‘drinking some vodka’ and ‘talking about different subjects’ sound like three suggestions a bunch of aliens would make during a round of Taboo if the category was ‘Humanoid Courting Rituals.’ This begs the question: are we missing out on having contact with extraterrestrials by not checking our Spam inboxes?

I must admit, though – I can’t stop thinking about whether or not Trinity gonna invite me to visit her life! Can you even imagine? Just chilling like Zenon, looking out of a space portal at a red dwarf, drinking cold vodka and chatting with an alien from Mars Attacks. I’m SO DOWN.

Who knows.

With kisses,
Caroline

To the guy in CVS with Rabbit Foot Hair:

Excuse me, guy on line in front of me at CVS: could you please explain to me why you shaved 99% of your head but left a small patch of hair intact on your crown and then dyed that hair green? Is that your good luck chunk of hair or something? Has a bird shat on that spot on your head a record-breaking number of times? I’m really at a loss here. Moreover, why green, the color of fungus, algae and rotting flesh? It’s not even a nice green – it’s more of a sickly chartreuse. Just horrible.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that your ‘cool,’ ‘subversive’ hairstyle looks like something in a movie about bullying where the popular boys glue a gangrenous rabbit’s foot to the back of a nerd’s head while he’s passed out after drinking his first beer at his first party or something. It’s bumming me out just looking at it, and I think you should shave it the fuck off immediately, if not sooner.