Wednesday, November 03, 2010

"how to drop a tv on yourself in three easy steps!" and other useful items for life in the sardonic household

a lazy sunday afternoon, when from the kids' bedroom my wife and i hear a rapid series of dull thuds followed by a much louder crash.

we are halfway up the stairs like sprinters at the olympics as my lyrical "what the fucking fuck?!!?" finally stops echoing from the walls and a new sound begins: a wail. a wail that forms words. a wail that sounds like, "oooooh nooooo, i am in sooooooo much trouble!" in a rising crescendo that breaks wetly at the end.

i burst into the bedroom and my heart fires off like a dragster at the green light at the sight: no. 1 is buried under his dresser, the tv that was atop it, and the dvd player that was atop that.

he is still wailing about how much trouble he is in, his face screwed up with tears, as adrenaline spikes my brain like a white-hot sixteenpenny nail. i dive in and lift up the dresser that is lying across the instep of his right foot like it is a piece of paper.

my wife is on her knees by his head, and we are both shouting "are you hurt? are you hurt?" over his keening lament for the broken tv and the loss of video game privileges he surely faces.

"move your foot!" my stern voice, amplified by my racing pulse, cuts through the the peripheral noise, and no. 1 complies.

"does it hurt?"

"no, my foot is fine. but i broke the teeeeveeeeeeee..." he winds back into the siren of his original concern.

"fuck the tv!! are you alright?"

this seems to cut through the fog of his mental anguish, and he gulps down a sob, looks me in the eyes, and says, "i think so."

"does your foot hurt?" this is the only body part i had seen with an actual furniture object on top of it when i had arrived on the scene.

"no. my wrist does, a little. the tv fell on it..." he looks again at the tv on its screen beside him on the floor, and looks like he might be getting ready to recommence the high-pitched mourning.

"move it like this!" i command stoutly before he can.

he dutifully rotates his left wrist and hand like he is twirling bolas over his head to bring down an ostrich, and looks at me expectantly.

"does that hurt?"

he shakes his head.

i survey the damage while his mother explains to him that we are, in fact, more concerned with his well-being than that of the tv, dvd, or dresser. he seems a bit incredulous, and i feel a momentary pang that we might've misrepresented our reasons for laying down certain ground rules for existing.

"what happened?" my wife asks.

"i was climbing the dresser..." he says, again expecting a barrage of angry yelling.

"oh, honey. what have we said about climbing furniture?"

"not to, cause we might break something."

for the first time, i feel a brief flash of anger: anger at myself for having led my son to believe we cared more about material possessions than his own well-being, anger at how hard my heart is still pounding, anger at finding myself in this situation in an otherwise uneventful day. as a result of this burst of frustrated ire, what i say is a little more forceful than i intend:

"yeah, you might fucking break yourself!"

he looks abashed, and i soften some. "anyhow, it appears that the only thing that got broken is the wall plate the cable comes through. if anything else is actually broken, we can replace it. we can't replace you so easily, buddy. yeah?"

he nods.

"i'll take him downstairs and put some ice on his wrist." my wife says.


i put the room back in order. other than the aforementioned broken wall plate, which probably saved my son's life by creating negative tension to the downward trajectory of the heavy dresser and television, the only other damage i can see is a bent cable input in the back of the dvd player. i raise the dresser, place the tv back on top, settle the player atop it, and reattach all the wires. everything plays as if nothing had ever happened.

"so, what'd we learn here today?"

"not to climb on furniture."


"i could get hurt."

"yes, buddy, you sure could."

my wife and i go outside to smoke, hands still shaking, and count our new gray hairs and the years that have been removed from our respective lives.

the next day, we run no. 1 through his paces again:

"move your foot."

he does.


he shakes his head.

"move your wrist."

he again does the rotationary action with his hand.



"make a fist."

he does, with his ring finger extended.

"lemme see that hand."

he holds out his hand, and i inspect his left ring finger. it is a little swollen, and i notice bruising at the joints.

"is it bad?" my wife asks.

"well, not sure. it doesn't seem too b--holy shit!"

i flip his hand over, and the bruising at the joints on the palm side of his finger is a luminescent shade of deep purple.

"bend that finger, bud?"

he does only slightly, and winces. "hurts, dad."

i sigh.

a phone call, doctor's appointment, xray, and visit with the osteopath later, and his ring finger is splinted and he has a piece of paper displaying his hand, the fleshy parts represented in smudgy gray halftones, the bones stark, the bend in his intermediate phalange glaring to share with his class on the next show-and-tell day.

"good news is, doesn't seem to be slowing him down any." the osteopath, who should switch to decaf, smiles as my son skips rapidly away. "hey, kid! no more climbing on furniture!" he calls after no. 1.

from his mouth to god's ears.

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