My friends are all having a baby boom right now – eight of us in one year. Already Matt McM. and Carrie had a boy named Cogan, Lindsay and Dana had Jack, our producer Penny had Finn three days ago, and yesterday, Tessa’s best friend Jason and his partner Tim said hello to Noah David, born eight pounds and six ounces.
I would, however, like to extend my middle finger to the hospital in Santa Monica where Noah was born, because they only allow one male to visit the baby. Not “one male at a time,” one male only EVER. This is either the most homophobic law still on the hospital books, or else they are bizarrely behind the times. And this is California, not some bucktooth health clinic in Montgomery, Alabama. Totally Uncool.
So many lives have been entering our world of late that it was a jarring experience to be caught in the back of an ambulance this evening en route to Hell (aka Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn). During my shift at the Food Co-op (boy, I’m predictable, huh) an elderly Jamaican woman tried to get some yogurt off the top shelf, and the milk crate she was standing on gave way.
She fell, hard, to the floor, catching the freezer door on the back of her head and smashing her back. When the co-op asked for a volunteer to accompany her to the hospital, I thought of a thousand reasons NOT to do it, but then I remembered a rule Tessa and I once had: put yourself in the way of stuff happening. So I hopped on the ambulance, and we sped through some sketchy parts of Brooklyn.
I mean, this woman was almost sixty, had no family, no real friends, zero money, and was strapped to a board with a brace in her mouth. In the ambulance, I looked at the gurneys, the medications buckled to the wall, and wondered how many people had died in this little chamber. And what the hell was this woman going to do?
For three hours, I shadowed her through the two emergency rooms, advocating for her as best I could, getting her the drugs she needed. She wouldn’t talk to any of the doctors, and only opened up to me when I told her the story of how I went to Negril, Jamaica and got dysentery. That always gets ’em laughing.
Those New York City emergency rooms, in the dead of winter, with people coming in with gunshot wounds, or being struck in the legs by a speeding car… jesus, the walls close in, and you feel like you can’t breathe. It’s not that far away from a prison in some faraway land where, like Paul Simon sang, you don’t speak the language and hold no currency.
When it became clear that my compatriot was not paralyzed, nor even hurt that badly, I arranged for the Food Co-op to send her a bag full of staples, with special emphasis on the strawberry yogurt she was reaching for when she busted her ass. I mean, if you endured that amount of suffering for strawberry yogurt, you better fucking have some at the end of the day.
I gave her some money to get by, made sure she could get home, and then I went back to my warm apartment, where my preggers wife was waiting with a huge smile. The co-op said that they had to re-imburse me, but fuck it, it’s Christmas.