About Us
Contact Us

|-  -|
Turn Your Head and Cough #18a
by Jason Torchinsky

I decided to give blood today. I came to this decision early this morning when I was riding my bike to school while shaving. Normally I find this practice to be quite a valuable time-saving device, but today I guess I popped a curb or pothole or dog too many, because when I arrived at my class my face looked like I had just sloppily devoured a bowl of live monkeys. Dark, glossy pools of blood marked my progress through the room to my desk. Finally, after about 20 or 30 of the more squeamish kids in my class just wouldn't stop moaning and whining, I decided to do something about my lacerated head already.

Not having any salt or pure lemon juice, I was unable to preform the first-aid for cuts treatment that my mom used to do for me when I was a kid and I would get badly cut from, say, the aluminum sheeting that composed my bedding. I was forced to use my vast medical knowledge, gained from watching well over four episodes of M*A*S*H, to diagnose myself and devise a suitable cure.

I was bleeding. A lot. That I knew. What can I do to stop bleeding? A tourniquet? Around my face, no. I don't want to get the bends. Obviously the only thing to do when blood is just gushing out of one's wounds is to lower the amount of blood, allowing whatever remains to settle down to your feet, where the body needs it the most. Or so I've read.

So I left to donate blood. What an opportune time for a Bloodmobile! Here I am, looking to get rid of some blood, and here are people who need it! I am always willing to help those who are needy, and if by my giving blood I can help feed even one hungry family, then dammit, I'm proud!

I shoved my way to the front of the line, held my head up high and loudly declared that I had arrived and that the process of saving lives may now begin. Then every body else in the line, and even a couple of donors carrying their little blood bags, wrestled me to the ground and flung me to the rear of the line, where, they claimed, I belonged. I was about to protest my rough treatment, but the stinging pain of my jaw reminded me about the elderly woman at the front of the line who sucker-punched me and delivered a warning peppered with profanity like curry on Indian food. I waited my turn.

When my turn finally arrived, I was so giddy to get on with the process of blood donation that I really didn't bother reading all of those tedious little forms they hand out. I even sped up my pulse and lowered my body temperature so those two tests would take less time as well. During the preliminary questioning, I did realize that since it was so long since I had given blood last, in a few weeks I'll need to come back and have my filter changed and my limbs rotated. they stuck a handy sticker on my forehead to remind me. My go at the table and needle arrived. A bit disappointed that the leech method had apparently been phased out, I nevertheless filled my bag in record time. I spied a group of attendants coming towards me with some complicated looking tubing, which I assumed was the prize for my spectacular blood-donation performance.

Instead of handing me the apparatus while paparazzi snapped photos that probably would have run in this very newspaper, the attendants began plugging these tubes into all parts of my body. I stammered for some explanation, and one of the Red Cross people held out the form I signed at the beginning of my little adventure.

It seems that in my haste to begin ridding myself of blood, I inadvertently signed the part of the form which gives permission to the Red Cross to take out as many different kinds of fluids as they want, and as much as they want. My situation seemed especially grim when it was pointed out to me that because of where I signed, these fluid extractions were not to include sperm, the only procedure which would have made my ordeal worthwhile.

So I writhed on my little leatherette cot, as makeshift pumps sucked out my lymph, bile, synovial fluid, aqueous humor, cranial fluid, mucus, bone marrow, pus, ear wax, saliva, and probably my lunch, which was, oddly enough, composed of similar items to the previous list. Ooh, that's gross, isn't it? Yuck. Sorry.

The pain was unbearable. My pupils contracted and expanded in syncopated rhythm as I screamed and twisted and tore at my bindings. Ordinarily when some type of physical mishap such as this occurs around this space in my columns, I lose consciousness, providing me with a clean transition and a reprieve from pain. Yet, sadly, this time I remained entirely alert. Every atom of my body was screaming out, and I was fully conscious to hear their pathetic pleas.

At last my trial was through. I was unhooked from the equipment, thanked, and dropped in front of some stale Fritos and cookies. I tried to cry to get some sympathy, but all that came out of my tear ducts was air and sand. I then tried another tack to improve my well-being. I tried, as they say on so many well-meaning bumper stickers with that little line of fat, multicolored, dancing monkeys, to think happy thoughts. My mind, for once obeying some form of instruction other than a deep, disembodied voice, promptly displayed the following image, from, I believe, last week:

A screen with an orange sphere just inside a hoop, with numbers at the bottom revealing the truth of the situation. Yeah, that Nova episode about Saturn was one of the best yet. Then my mind turned to the Duke game, and Carolina's glorious victory- but it was not so much the game I'd like to discuss, but rather Franklin street afterwards.

You see, I just transferred from a school with no real sporting events to get all nutzy about, and I finally realized what a glorious thing it can be. Think about it. Normally, I'm a simple transfer student, having, rather sadly, a mere handful of acquaintances, which I keep in a jar over my bed. Also, I still only have a few good friends here, still feeling a bit new, but, on that one night, all of a sudden, everybody's happy to see you, and everybody's your friend. Why, I think I embraced some guy who not hours before had attempted to hit me with a bicycle chain and take my wallet. But who cared? We won! Ah, the camaraderie, the joy! Everyone rallying around one cause, but not some overly mushy cause, something fun and full of healthy malice, something to yell about! A good, solid nemesis like Duke, where the people are too groomed and can't hack the thought of being itchy! Those landed gentry weasels, we showed them! Ha ha!

So by now my spirits had risen again, and though I looked like a sharpei, I was happy. Thirsty, but happy. Plus, my joy was solidified when I was given a sticker that said "Be nice to me; I gave blood today," granting me impunity to do whatever the hell I wanted. So I went to the local playground and beat the hell out of a couple of little kids, just because it felt so good. And when their oddly angry mothers came charging up to complain or tip me or something, I just pointed to my sticker and walked away, enjoying my immunity. Life is good. Solidarity.

Back to the list o' columns.


© copyright 2000 The Van Gogh-Goghs