I swear all of this is true.
I normally have physical therapy on Monday, but I had it on Tuesday last week because my therapist was going out of town for a few days, and needed to adjust her schedule. The place I go to is a nice, modern facility staffed with congenial, helpful people, and is located in one of those sprawling office parks that have sprung up like clover all over the place. Most of these buildings house some sort of business related to healthcare or lawyering, and although it seems as if there are a lot of these charmless complexes, they usually look better than what they replaced.
I rode the elevator to the third floor with a group of people who were enthusiastically engaged in a contest to see who could have the most abrasive coughing fit ever. I don’t think they were seeing their attorney. I hastily exited the elevator at 3, slathered up with Purell from the wall-mounted dispenser, and checked-in at my therapist’s office. I was fifteen minutes early, so I had a seat in the waiting area amongst the rest of the stiff and wobbly, and set out to pass the time playing solitaire on my phone. I always mind my own business in waiting rooms, but what happened next was hard to ignore.
A woman checked-in at the window over my right shoulder, and once her paperwork was squared away, she loudly announced— and this is an exact quote—“I have to go to the bathroom.” She said this as if we all, each and every one of us within fifty feet of her needed to know that she had to pee.
Her declaration woke my curiosity, so I closed out my virtual card game. I was going to lose anyway, and this was much more interesting because as she walked to the restroom, her woolen scarf was dragging behind her on the floor. In its unfurled state, this scarf had to be at least twenty feet long, and although wrapped around her neck, it was still dragging a solid ten feet behind her heels. I assumed she was a knitter who, while knitting, became engrossed in something on TV, and before she knew it, she had knitted a twenty-foot long scarf.
As she walked into the restroom and turned to close the door, I figured she’d notice the scarf and roll it up. I was wrong. She closed the door behind her while leaving at least five feet of her scarf on the floor, on the opposite side of the door. This fascinated me, so I was now convinced that the scarf would gradually inch its way under the door as she rolled it up, but it didn’t go anywhere. I couldn’t figure this out. This woman was an enigma, wrapped up in another enigma, and then wrapped up, at least partially, in over six yards of scarf. I found myself wondering how she managed to maneuver around in the bathroom with her neck still attached to a scarf, a third of which was pinned under a door.
A few minutes went by, and the scarf still lay there; a dormant, woolen threshold that was politely stepped over by anyone who walked by. I heard water running, and then the hand dryer blowing, and then the door opened. She stepped over her own scarf and walked to an empty seat, still dragging the Rapunzelesque muffler behind her, as if this was simply how it’s done.
When she sat down, she finally noticed what was going on, looped the scarf around her neck with a complexity usually reserved for sailing knots, and when she was finished, she sang—yes, sang—“This is all going to work out just fine!”
I waited for a few more minutes, listening to what was going on behind me as the scarf lady got up and moved so that she was sitting next to someone. Once seated, she began telling that person in great detail how she forgot to plug in her phone last night. As soon as my therapist came out and called my name, I thought to myself that this would make an interesting story, and then promptly forgot all about it until Sunday, when I started to recount it for my wife at the breakfast table:
“So, get this … when I was at PT, there was this lady who … who … why are you staring at me like that?” I asked.
Mrs. G. had a look on her face that was fifty percent concern and fifty percent just swallowed a bug.
“What’s going on with your eye?” she asked.
I had no idea what was going on with my eye. I couldn’t see my own eye. It felt and worked fine, and as far as I could tell, it was still attached to my head. “Not sure what you mean,” I said.
“It’s red. I mean blood red. All of it,” she said.
Again, my eye felt fine, and I needed to get this scarf story out of the way, so I started back where I left off.
“I don’t know. So this lady had this really long scarf, that … that … OK, what?”
“It’s freaking me out. Go look in the mirror,” she said, her face now turned away and buried deep in the collar of her sweater. So I left the kitchen to go look in the bathroom mirror.
Holy cowfarts! My left eye was indeed red, but I didn’t expect this. Surrounding most of the blue part of my eye was a color so deeply red, my first thought was that this would be a cool color for a Mustang. I pulled my eyelid up and down, and there was no end to this ruddy palette. Pure red. So I went to Dr. Google and asked what was going on. On a Sunday morning, this was the best shot I had at an evaluation, plus there was no co-pay.
The consensus? Broken blood vessels, but how did it happen? Probably when I sneezed. Or it was a brain hemorrhage, but either way, I was set on finishing that scarf story and my cereal.
As it turns out, we went to the movies later that afternoon with my daughter and son-in-law, and he knew right away that it was broken blood vessels, but my daughter, as did her mother, said I should see a doctor, as in an urgent care doctor, as in right the heck now. I promised everyone that if it didn’t look better the next day, I’d call the doctor.
My wife was still mildly concerned that it was pink eye, and since that is contagious, she stayed about five feet away from me. Knowing this, and being totally convinced that it was nothing and would go away on its own in a week, I opened my eye as wide as possible and lurched towards her in the car. She recoiled in terror. Fear the ghastly red eyeball! Mua-ha-ha-ha-ha!
The next morning, I did call my eye doctor and was told that it was indeed a broken blood vessel (fancy name, subconjunctival hemorrhage), and as long as it didn’t hurt, it would go away on its own. As of this writing, it’s doing exactly that.
I never did get to finish the scarf story with my wife. By the time all the eye commotion passed, so did the moment, but it really happened and it was a delightful little kick-start to my Tuesday morning, so I thought I’d share it with you.
My mom used to call people such as the scarf lady “characters,” as in, “she’s such a character.” That she was, and if her regular PT day is Tuesday, I may have to reschedule my Monday appointment, if only to see what happens next.