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!

That Time I was Way Too Young for Sleepaway Camp and Went to Sleepaway Camp Anyway

When I was 8 years old, I became obsessed with going to sleepaway camp. I don’t know what the hell was so miserable about being nice, safe and loved at home, but I became insistent on going away to camp as soon as 3rd grade was over.

We looked at a bunch of camps, but finally settled on one all the way up in Maine. The campers, said the place’s promotional video, slept in rustic canvas tents. There were arts and crafts, a scenic lake for us to sail on, and sometimes the whole camp would go blueberry picking together. Since everyone they taped was having THE BEST SUMMER OF HER LIFE, my mother decided that I would go there. For 8 weeks. The month after I turned 9. Regardless of the fact that I’d insisted on being picked up from every sleepover I’d ever been on to date.

And so, that June, we packed up all of the UNIFORMS that we’d had to buy (UNIFORMS!), wrote my name on a shit ton of socks, and got ready for my departure. Of course, around two weeks before I left, it finally kicked in that I was about to be away from my parents and baby sister for mad long and I became inconsolable. I can remember crying so hard that I was silent as the bus pulled away from the kerb that first day and my family waved goodbye to me. Even then, as I sat weeping into my pillow, I knew that nothing good was waiting for me in Maine.

First of all, I was in a different bunk than the friend I’d gone to camp with, so I was totally screwed on the social front. Clearly, nobody wants to befriend the miserable twit who won’t stop running to the bathroom cabin (!!!) to cry hysterically and write nutty letters home, so I was pretty much on my own for 8 whole weeks. Add to this the fact that we weren’t allowed to call home even ONCE, and also the fact that I had a borderline abusive English counselor who would scream at me to clean the tent while I lay on my cot and sobbed, and you’re starting to get an idea for how this summer played out. I have a vivid memory of finding a bright orange slug on one of our many camping trips (oh, the indignity) and bringing it back to campus because it was the best friend I’d made in five weeks. I was not having a good time.

Then Hurricane Bertha hit. Those charming, rustic, canvas tents we slept in? Turns out they shrunk in hurricanes. I guess it got pretty dangerous at one point, because the whole camp had to be ushered into the Theater Cabin, where some moron read us “The Velveteen Rabbit” while we waited for the storm to subside. Here’s a note to anyone who owns a camp: there are literally A MILLION better stories to read a bunch of terrified children than one about a depressive rabbit who almost gets burned in a fire when his sickly owner stops loving/forgets about him. Who thought that was a good idea? Seriously, people. This is what I was dealing with.

I still count the day that I left that godforsaken place as one of the happiest days of my life. I have a vague recollection of wetting my bed for the first – and only – time in my life the night before we left and thinking to myself, “I’m glad that someone is going to have to deal with this,” instead of “ZOMG I just wet the bed and I’m kind of old and this is sort of embarrassing and gross.”

Here’s the message of the story: if you send a child who already has separation anxiety to semi-boot camp when she’s 9, she will still live at home when she is 24.

Daily Aggravation 16: Bathroom doors with no locks

Maybe it’s the product of having grown up in a house where things like ‘modesty,’ ‘privacy’ and ‘not being walked in on while you’re on the toilet’ were important, but I really don’t understand people who don’t have locks on their bathroom doors. There are few things more upsetting to a person with an already-shy bladder than going into someone’s bathroom and realizing that someone could fling the door open at any time (in my anxiety-driven imagination, it’s always a theatrical and startling ‘fling,’ never a cautious knock or slight twist of the knob). If I agree to come to your house, you’d better have a lock on the bathroom door, and if you don’t, please warn me in advance so I can flake on hanging out with you.