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!

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.

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.

What I’ve Learned from Compulsively Watching True Crime for 20 Years

1. If you absolutely have to go to Washington state, do everything in your power to avoid going to Snohomish County. Nothing good happens in Snohomish County, Washington. Just look at Ann Rule’s body of work – she made an entire career out of writing books about horrific crimes that have been committed in this one small region of the country. (Seriously, she wrote, like, 50 books about terrible, random murders that have all taken place in Snohomish County.) Judging from the Ann Rule canon, which I am deeply familiar with, if you spend enough time in Snohomish County, there’s an extremely good chance that you will be viciously attacked close to your bus stop and battered about the face and head by the light of the Washington moon.

If you’re a sportier type and prone to hiking, you could also get killed on Snoqualmie Pass. Snoqualmie Pass seems to be a mountain that is extremely dangerous not because of its treacherous terrain, but because it attracts psychopaths like moths to a scenic flame. If you absolutely have to go to Washington state and you absolutely have to go hiking, do everything in your power to avoid hiking Snoqualmie Pass – that is, unless you’re in the mood to grapple with a knife-wielding, AWOL soldier who thinks he’s still in Vietnam.

2. If someone seems like a pervert or a killer, he might very well be a pervert or a killer. Humans have a sixth sense for a reason – that little voice in your head is millions of years of evolution telling you that it’s probably a good idea to quicken your pace when passing that gentleman who’s dressed in a soiled trenchcoat and scratched aviators and screaming expletives at no one. Is there a weird dude driving your cab? It’s okay to get out of the cab if you feel like you’re about to get Bone Collectored in it.

3. If you discover that the lock on the window of your ground-floor bedroom is broken and you’re missing a few pairs of underpants and your hairbrush, leave the apartment immediately. There’s clearly a creepy teenager loose in your neighborhood who may very well have masturbated into your sock drawer while wearing one of your hats. Go stay with a friend or a relative until that lock gets fixed and call ADT.

4. Always be extremely punctual when going anywhere and never miss or cancel any plans with anyone. Also, pick up your cell phone every time someone calls you. That way, people will realize pretty quickly if you go missing. They’ll say things like, “Well, I knew that Sarah must have been in the trunk of a sadomasochist’s Kia when she didn’t text me exactly at 11pm like she always does.” What I’m trying to say is, don’t be a fucking flake like me, or else if you do get kidnapped and call someone for help, your lifeline will just be like, “Yeah, sure, Sarah, you’re in the trunk of a sadomasochist’s Kia. It’s always something with you. I’m just going to order without you,” and hang up.

Daily Aggravation 53: Public Denture Removal

The other day on the 6 train downtown, I sat across from a woman whose shrunken face and whopping height of 3’2″ made it obvious that she was 180 years old. Her eyes contained centuries of wisdom, but apparently, none of that wisdom pertained to how to act on a New York City subway.

At first, all she did was eat sunflower seeds – so many sunflower seeds. I was wondering what she was doing with the shells; they seemed to disappear as soon as she spat them out, which, quite honestly, I was thankful for. Then, I turned to my right, where I spotted a gaggle of young, Italian tourists all staring in the general direction of the old woman with their mouths agape. Clearly, something of note was going on with her –  and it turned out to be the most disgusting act I’ve ever seen on the subway (and I was born and raised here).

The old woman had removed her dentures, leaving a puckered, anus-like hole in place of the normal-looking mouth she’d just had, and was proceeding to suck and lick her dentures clean. I honestly didn’t even know what to do with myself besides continue to stare at her, trying to figure out how to make sense of this horrific display.

It was then that I caught the eye of a younger gentleman, who broke into a big grin and whispered to me, “Disgusting, just disgusting,” in a thick accent, referring to our friend, the immortal pig. Turning to my left, I saw that a middle-aged man was absolutely dying with silent laughter; tears were rolling down his face as he tried to contain himself. The Italian tourists got in on the fun, too, as did a beautiful young teenager who was, unfortunately, sitting right next to the old woman as she worked her dentures like this was her last meal for the next six months. We all grinned at each other, totally horrified but bonding through mutual disgust.

At long last, we arrived at my stop, and I got off the train, both utterly scarred and glowing with the satisfaction I get from having real, human interactions with strangers on the subway. We may have the weirdest people in the world living here, but damn, do I love this city.