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.

If I Drop Dead, My Obituary Will Be Terrible

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of true crime. I’m currently watching the premiere episode of a 6-part miniseries on ID called “The Vanishing Women.” It’s about how six women all disappeared from the same small town in Ohio between 2014 and 2015. Four have been found dead, two are still missing, and the investigation into their disappearances is still ongoing.

As is the case with many of the true crime shows I love, this first episode begins with a scene in which three family members of Tiffany Sayres, one of the murdered women, fondly reminisce about her with tears in their eyes. They talk about how hard-working she was, how kind to animals. They all agree that she was never without her purse, which always contained a bottle of soda and a spare t-shirt. And while watching this depressing, exploitative, ghoulish conversation, all I could think was, “If I were to drop dead tonight, my obituary would be terrible.” I’ve been thinking about what it would say, and so far I’ve got this:

Caroline Nierman, a native New Yorker best known for her resemblance to John Goodman in photographs, died June 9, 2016, according to her family. She was 29. Nierman was born Caroline Nierman in May of 1987, and she aspired to use the stage name Saucy Goblin if she ever performed on stage. When she was 14, Nierman fell on a treadmill while paying rapt attention to an episode of ‘Say What Karaoke,’ and her right knee was never the same. 

Nierman attended a university in Scotland for three years. She spent the vast majority of her time in the United Kingdom outside of the classroom, either enjoying a local restaurant’s signature pancakes or sleeping. In 2008, she returned to New York City and took her first administrative job, which barely covered the rent on an unnecessarily expensive studio apartment that she insisted on moving to. While living alone, Nierman managed to rack up an impressive $4,000 of debt by using her credit card to pimp out an Ikea bed, which she loved like a child, and then ignoring the bills. 

While Nierman worked at a number of different companies over the course of her career, her proudest professional moment was when she was accused of locking a disturbed four year old into a room that had no lock on its door while she was working as a summer camp counselor in high school. Nierman could always be counted on to laugh at YouTube videos of people falling down, and she loved nothing more than catching up on The Daily Mail while curled up into the fetal position with earplugs in. 

Despite her shortcomings, Nierman spent her life loving and being loved by her endlessly supportive and hilarious family, who she was so attached to that she insisted on being picked up from 98% of the sleepovers she went on in her lifetime. She also miraculously managed to reel in the very definition of a catch when it came to her adored fiancé, who is now the sole parent of their delicious dog, Jack (Instagram: @JackieTheBean). 

There will be no funeral, as Nierman found funerals to be unbearably depressing. In lieu of gifts, please donate money to every single animal shelter and rescue organization in the world – seriously, all of them – or else Nierman will, in her own words, “haunt your sorry, callous ass until you’re withered and gray.” RIP. 

Phew. Glad that’s over with! Now back to my program.

 

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!

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).

Annoying Straphangers: The Head-Bobber

People on the subway who furiously bob their heads in time to the music they’re listening to on their headphones annoy the shit out of me. Wow, guy – you like it when musical notes are strung together in a melodic way? That doesn’t make you ‘cool’ or ‘ hip,’ it makes you a sentient human being with ears that work and a beating heart. Stop pretending that you’re Avicii DJing MSG when we’re both just two schmucks riding the 3 train home from our grunt administrative jobs.

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.

Daily Aggravation 52: Having to Work Past Your Prime

I think I had the somewhat dubious honor of being the passenger of the oldest cab driver in New York City today. My initial fears about his competency were confirmed when I said, “I’m going to 78th and Madison,” and his response was a confident “78th and York!” 

My first thought was, ‘Well, maybe he just didn’t hear me,’ because I’m sorry, but there is NO accent or weird moment that could make ‘Madison’ sound even remotely like ‘York.’ Then I thought, ‘Oh, God. What if he just has no memory left? Now I have to spend the whole time worrying that my cab driver is going to forget how to drive while we’re crossing Central Park.’ Luckily, we got home just fine, and after shouting and repeating directions about where to pull up and let me off, I was out of the cab and on my merry way.

It is a grave injustice that my extremely elderly cab driver is still needing to work at 154. Sounds to me like someone danced with the devil in the pale moonlight!