Thursday, August 10, 2006

How NOT to write a goddamn get-well card

There's something sort of bizarre about going to the hospital knowing that at least one person you know will be there. When Charlie and Tina weren't picking up their phones, we went ahead and headed to the hospital, figuring that if they weren't in maternity (where they've been several nights running, though no baby yet) we'd go say "Hi" to TheChaliceRelative's best friend.

Nancy was out of intensive care and in a room one level of care lower. She had tubes coming out of her arms and legs, but seemed remarkably alert all things considered. She'd had a tracheotomy and could barely talk. When we got into the room, she croaked "talk to me."

So I did. With a few interjections from the CSO, I launched into a long monologue about my family, my job, my law plans, my future housemates, GA and all I could think of to say. It was so good to see her listen and react. She nodded vigorously when I told her about GA hippies, which made me wonder if Presbyterians have them, too.

After awhile, she asked me to read her mail to her, which brings me to the point of this post.

People just don't know what to write in a "get well" note. Now Nancy's friends are actual old ladies, many of them southern, so I don't think my standards are too high.

The real problem is that people don't plan before they write, so they end up writing whatever is on their minds, and left to thier own devices minds tend to become insensitive. Fully half of the notes said something appalling, sometimes as a first sentence, usually about halfway through when the writer was starting to run out of things to say.

Nancy's notes included the following sentiments:

-"You must be in such awful pain. I hope the doctors are giving you enough medication. I can't imagine the pain..."

-"Sorry to hear about your HORRIFIC accident!"

and the always popular:

"It's amazing you LIVED"

(Y'all should have seen Nancy's eyes widen when I read that last one. Models can smile with just their eyes. Nancy can snark with just her eyes. It was cool.)

The whole situation reminded me of the time one of my camp counselors was bitten by a snake. My bunkmate Monique made a huge card that read "Sorry a snake bit you." Even as a ten-year-old, I knew that was hilarious.

After about an hour, Nancy whispered "this has been perfect" and theCSO and I left.

But sympathy cards were still on our minds. As a decompression exercise, we stopped in a diner and ate scrambled eggs while we composed:


10. "Dude, next time, YOU should probably be the designated driver."
9. "If you die before you get this, nevermind..."
8. "You'll make a cute zombie"
7. "Can I have your Thomas Kincaide prints?"
6. "Safer than driving, they said? Yeah right..."
5. "You should go to China. Organs are cheap there."
4. "I told them you wouldn't want any antidote that wasn't vegan"
3. When you said "Hold my beer and watch this!," I should have just gone ahead and called 911 right then.
2. "There's still time to repent."
1. "Ironically, the deer was unharmed."

In the morning, I don't doubt that this list won't be funny to me. But it was an incredible relief to write at eleven o'clock at night a block or two down from the hospital.

who should explain that "Hold my beer and watch this!" is the funniest phrase in the English language to anyone who went to college down south.

1 comment:

Jamie Goodwin said...

I don't know.. If I were in an accident and someone sent me a card that said "You'll make a cute zombie" I would laugh unitl my tubes popped out.

THAT would be exactly what I would need, even if death was ar eal possibility.

I loved the list!