Monday, October 11, 2010

Stories of Stupidity- Story 2

I arrive at Grand Central Station in a rush to get to work. I stand by the door as the train door opens and speed up the ramp, and enter the vast cavernous concourse. It is 8:45 AM and there are more people zigzagging through Grand Central than in most small cities. As I enter the concourse, out of the corner of my eye the flash of a person catches my eye. There is a man, falling to the floor. He is about fifty years old, bald, dressed in business attire. He is probably on his way to work just like every other day.  This morning is different. The man hits the floor and breaks into a seizure. I watch him for about one second then look around to spot one of the heavily armed first responders roaming the station. After spotting no one, I run to the information booth and notify the attendant. At that point I feel like I fulfilled my responsibility. I am not a doctor or an EMS technician so I could not really help him medically. As I walk away I look back to see a crowd gathering around and he is receiving medical treatment. I feel relieved knowing he would be okay and chances are it was not the first time this happen to him.
I thought of that guy was I exit Grand Central and walk the four blocks to my office. That guy will not remember anything during his seizure, he basically blacked out. Blacking out, in other words passing out or fainting is when some level of trauma occurs and you loose go dark for a few seconds. The feeling you get is a quick hot rush, and the appearance of everything slowing down to a crawl right in front of your eyes. The next thing you know as your eyes gradually begin to re-focus, there is a crowd of people gathered around you. You have no sense of how much time has elapsed; it feels like hours when it’s only seconds. I know this feeling because I have experienced blacking out in the past. I do not know why it happens but  I recall the feeling of re-focusing my eyes to find people standing over me.

The Great Summer Bake-off (circa- the 1980’s)

We start running from the parked car to the ferry as fast as we can. The parking lot seems to be a mile long and the only spot available is by the very farthest corner from the dock. I have never been to Fire Island, a small island off the coast of Long Island, where people from the city rent houses for the summer. It was a blazing hot summer weekend as the ferry docked after the half hour ride; everyone on the boat was ready to hit the beach and the bars. We disembark the ferry and make our way to Brett’s house. Brett, sort of a friend of a friend invited my friend Lee and Lee invited me. We were both single and in our twenty’s, the perfect demographic for this island. We arrive at the house, stow our bags, change into bathing suits and hit the beach. It’s about 11am and the sun is already full on. When we get to the beach Lee and Brett lay out their blankets, I spot a volley ball net. I am not one to lay on a blanket all day so I make my way over and get into a game. After about an hour of playing one of my teammates points out that I am getting a little red from the sun and wants to know if I want any sun lotion. He hands me a bottle of Coppertone with a SPF of 10 (Which if I recall correctly was the strongest they had in the 80’s). I put it on my neck and face, then take off my shirt and layer my whole body with protection. Felling good that I protected myself, I proceed to play game after game of volley ball.

At 4pm Lee and Brett walk over to the volley ball court, play one game, and then suggest we change and hit happy hour.  We get back to the house, shower and dress for the bar. As I shower, my skin feels a little tight; I shake it off as volleyball muscle cramps. We walk over to the local hot spot (Did I mention there are no cars on the island?), order some beers and relax by the bar. I feel very hot so after one beer, I switch to club soda. We continue to hang out and the bar occupancy is filling up. The place is a wall to wall drink fest. My friends are loud and conversing other people while I am stagnant and reserved, drinking my club soda. I am having a good time but feel my body heat rising, and a slight light headiness is added to my discomfort. It is just about dark outside now and the aura in the bar is that the partying is just getting started. I am really heated and can not get into any position of comfort. I tell my friends I am going to step outside and get some air. I push myself through the thick crowd and blow through the front door. The hot humid air hits me like a freight train. I try to find a place to sit down, but everywhere I look are people waiting to enter the bar, people making out on steps, people camped out on the sand. I decide at that point to head back to the house, eat something to rejuvenate, and meet up with my friends later. I start walking down the sidewalk when I realize I am not exactly sure how to get back to the house from here. We walked along the beach path to get to the bar so I have no reference point. I have confidence I can find it so I forge ahead. I pass bar after bar, each one busier than the previous one. I sense people looking at me while I walk and wonder if there is something on my shirt. I stop at the nearest street light and inspect myself for embarrassing spills. I look down at my arms and am shocked at how red they are. I am wearing a white shirt and the contrast is glaring. I unbutton the top two buttons on my shirt and look ay my chest. It is a bright red. I am feeling very heated and my head is spinning so I sit down on a rock nearby to compose myself. I watch the people walk by, glancing down at me or clearing around me. I put my head in my hands to steady the spinning but as my hands touch my skin, the stinging of my forehead make my eyes squeeze together. I open them again to keep focus on the legs passing by and the bicycles cruising past when everything begins to slow and eventually creeps to a standstill. Everything goes black.

I feel myself reboot, my eyes slowing going from a blur to shapes to full focus. There are about twenty people hovering over me, some with glasses of water, others with wet towels. I make my way to my feet while I hear people say “Are you okay?”, “Are you drunk?”, “Do you need a doctor?” I am embarrassed by all of the attention and confused about the time. I tell everyone I am ok, and if someone could point me in the right direction (I mumble out an address) so I can make my way home. A couple volunteer to walk with me since they knew the house, and before I know it we are standing in front of the house I am thanking them for their assistance. I open the door, go the designated room, blast on the A/C, and crawl into bed.

I am blinded by the sun peeking through the shades as I awake. It’s about 10am Sunday morning. The rays hurt my skin and throw the blanket over my head. The blanket stings as it lands on my skin. Lee knocks open the door, “What happen to you last night?” He has a look of shock on his face when he sees me. “Man, are you sunburned!” We are supposed to leave on the last ferry home later that day but I plead with Lee to leave right now, as I can not take this sun any more and desperately need to be home. He agrees, and we thank our host and head to the ferry. Every step hurts my body, the sun stings my skin. On the ferry I cover myself in a big hat and damp towels, I feel like a seal being transferred from the ocean to an aquarium. I gingerly walk through the mile long parking lot, my sneakers loosely tied as to not punch my burning feet. The car pulls up to the front of my apartment, I drag my bag through the lobby, the strap like a hot knife against my shoulder. I open the door leave my bag in the middle of the room, and make my way to the coolest thing in the house, the bath tub. I fill it up with about two inches of cold water, set in with my clothes on and let out a quiet ooh as my body comes to a rest at the bottom. Two days home from work later and I begin to feel like myself again. I did not dare go to the beach for the rest of the summer.


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