About the Time I Accidentally Made a Guy Think His Wife was Dead

When you work for a large corporation, and you’re in the service industry, and you do things like teach people how to ride horses, it’s important to be CPR certified and generally up to date on how to handle medical emergencies. The company I worked for had a gentleman whose job it was to keep us in line and ready for action. He was a nice man and good at his job and very, very passionate about it. He was also a possessor of verbal tics. He had exactly three:

  • Ever so gently
  • Don’t be bashful
  • Get on the horn

An example sentence would be, “ever so gently, check for a pulse. If you’re not sure about the situation, don’t be bashful, get on the horn and call 911.” In a two hour seminar I guesstimate that he would say each of these phrases about 100 times. As a result, I am no longer super sure about my CPR steps (though I’d gladly give it by best shot if I needed to), but I do know that I should proceed ever so gently, not be bashful or  hesitate to get on the horn.

 One day I was driving to work whilst happily chatting with my friend Axel. It was a beautiful, sunshiney morning, and I was arriving late for some reason I can’t remember. As I approached the gatehouse I saw a woman sprawled out on the asphalt. “Oh crap,” I said to Axel, tedium in my voice. “There’s this guy whose always setting traps for the employees. I gotta go deal with a fake heart attack right now.” And it was true. Fake heart attacks and other emergencies would sometimes lay in wait to test our responses. With great annoyance I pulled over and got out, ready to do the required shtick.

Which is when I saw blood.

Uh oh, thought I.

Upon closer examination, a biking accident victim revealed herself. She had been speeding along when a guard stupidly closed the automatic gate directly in front of her, forcing her to brake suddenly. She went over the handlebars and things were not good. They were not good with her face and they were not good with her hands. Not good at all. She was clearly in shock. Her friend and I began ministering to her. It so happened that I kept a clean white sheet in my 4Runner at all times for Elvis transportation purposes. Luckily for this lady it had just been washed. I covered her with the sheet. The bright sun was blinding her, sweat was falling into her eyes, so I covered her completely. At any point did it occur to me that she looked like a dead body? No, it did not.

The guard, who had caused this mishap to begin with, said he couldn’t get a hold of her husband. I sped off to their home to find him. When I arrived, I found the hose still running. He had been washing patio furniture, but was gone now. I turned off the hose and headed back towards the gate house. By the time I arrived, an ambulance had taken her to the hospital. My day continued on without further incident.

A few weeks later the lady and her husband visited me, graciously thanking me for doing nothing more than stopping to help. (I didn’t do much, after all.) The poor lady was still dealing with nerve damage in her hands. It was then that I learned that the call the husband received was as follows. “You should come to guard house. Your wife has been in an accident.”

As he came around the final bend in the road, he did not see an injured woman under a doggie travel blanket. He saw this–>

I was at a complete loss for words. Innocent though it may have been, I was complicit in giving this man one of the greatest scares he’d ever know. Ultimately, I decided not to be bashful and ever so gently said, “I’m sorry it wasn’t a plaid stadium blanket.” Later, I got on the horn and told Axel about it.

No, it’s Not 1950…

…but you wouldn’t know it from the Love’s Embrace Kay Jewelers ad that’s been playing every five minutes in anticipation of Valentine’s Day. Or, as many know it, Singles Awareness Day. They also played this puppy before Christmas. Not everyday Kay Jewelers forks out for a rain machine, so they’re getting their money’s worth.

Run Lady

Woman receiving a pendant that captures the comfort found in each other's arms.

The 30 second spot begins with a mountain cabin in an electrical storm. A man and woman watch the storm from the window. There’s something not quite right about the guy. A little bit of smarmy, a little bit of mock turtleneck, a little bit of purposefully unshaven, I don’t know, but it adds up to a whole lot of not right.

The man is given the unenviable task of delivering the line: “In all the years we’ve been coming here I’ve never seen a storm like this.” Not even Marlon Brando at the height of his powers, let alone this guy, could bring this line to life. It is dead on arrival.

And then, it happens.

A crack of thunder and lightning.

And the woman spooks.

Do you hear me, people? The woman spooks. In a whirl of fright she spins away from the terrifying lightning and into the arms of smarmy guy. Okay. Here are a list of things that spook at electrical storms:

  • Horses
  • Rabbits
  • Very small children
  • Some dogs

Please note adult women was not on the list. Not even ALL dogs are on that list, only some dogs. I’d like to think that if a good percentage of dogs have the maturity to handle a situation, we would go ahead and presume that adult women would also share this fortitude.

After the woman has been forced to spook into smarmy guy’s arms, she must then listen to him say, “I’m right here,” and yes, the line is imbued with the sort of condescension you’ve already come to expect from this commercial. He then adds, “and I always be.” Again, NOT EVEN BRANDO. So many hands were dirtied in the creation of this thing! No one is free from sin — not the writer, director, smarmy guy, the ad campaign team, NO ONE. Not even our leading lady, who, so far, has managed to bring a certain je ne sais quoi, a certain elan, to this sad endeavor, leaves unscathed.

After enduring these many humiliations she must deliver her one and only line. Now, I may be projecting, but when she gazes up into smarmy guy’s face, I swear I see a look in her eyes, a look that says, “kill me now. I’ve just been forced to spook, whirl into a smarmy’s guy’s arms, and now I must deliver my line, ’cause Mama’s gotta pay the rent.” And she does. She says, “don’t let go. Ever.” NOT EVEN BETTE DAVIS– okay, no, I take that back. Bette Davis could make anything work.

Meanwhile, the narrator informs the man, “now you can surround her with the strength of your love.” You know, it wouldn’t be so bad, if hadn’t we already been treated to the spooking, the  condescension, the smarminess, but delivered at the conclusion of that nonsense it just sounds like so much chauvinism.

Sigh.

And in case you’ve been lucky enough to avoid it, here’s the spook in action.

P.S. Apparently this ad took heat back in November because it struck a lot of people as feeling like a slasher/horror film. I think that’s giving this guy way too much credit.

Humiliation – It’s What’s For Dinner

The tale I about to tell occurred many moons ago, arguably in 2003, but also quite possibly in 2004. These things are open to debate. One thing I know – it was July.  In the middle of the hottest month that sits right in the middle of the hottest season.  Hot, hot, hot.

It was a Friday, and I had spent my day trying to divert the course of a river. (It was eating away at my in-law’s lawn.)  I thought I could do this by transferring gravel from the far side of the bank to the near side of the bank. So it was shovel, dump, shovel, dump, all day long. Actually, it would be more accurate to say shovel, sweat, dump, shovel, sweat, dump, shovel, sweat, dump. Over the course of the day I drank two glasses of water. I thought this meant I was staying hydrated. This was back when I was young and stupid. I would exit the day older and wiser.

I hear that my sister and her then-boyfriend are going to be passing through town, so we make plans to eat at Sardi’s. Sardi’s is a local legend and purveyor of the best ribs in the South. I know whereof I speak – they catered my wedding. During the college years Sardi’s was our official hang-out. It was like a second home.  But after this Friday I would not return to Sardi’s for two years.

Sardi's Den

The site of my humiliation.

I shower, get cleaned up, I’m feeling great, looking forward to dinner. We have a lovely time. Our waitress is young and fun and cute and a good server. I would later come to look at her as a kind of personal savior. I am ravenous. We order fried things. Lots of fried things. I eat lots of fried things. Lots and lots of them. I also order two margaritas, but they are very small, on the rocks, and weak. Talk begins to wrap up. And I begin to not feel so well.

I go to the restroom. Nowadays, Sardi’s has redone some of the bathroom. At the time, it was rustic, with a concrete floor. Possibly I inspired the switch to linoleum. I exit the bathroom and wind my way through the overcrowded, jam packed dining area. Such is the nature of Friday nights at Sardi’s. Everybody else is up at the front, paying. We say our good-byes and go outside. All the while, things are starting to go bad. They are, in fact, going real bad, real fast, real hard. My hearing and my vision start to fade. My neo-cortex short circuits, and the reptilian part of my brain comes to the forefront, insisting I go into protectionist mode. You don’t want the lions to know you’re the sick zebra.

Instead of telling anyone that death appeared imminent, I instead tell Evan that I have to go to the bathroom. Nobody notices this is weird, as I just went. He smiles and says he’ll wait in the parking lot. I go back inside, get halfway across the crowded dining area, and pass out. As I fall I grab the straps of a woman’s purse that’s hooked over the back of her chair. I try to keep myself up, but I go all the way down. I immediately come back to, and stagger to my feet. I hear a guy laughing. He thinks I’m hammered. He says, “oh my God!” while laughing, in that “I can’t believe that girl is so trashed!” kind of way.

My response? I slur at the man, “be cool, dude. Be cool.” Clearly, I was not in my right mind.

I manage to get myself into the bathroom and I close myself into a stall. I try throwing up, but nothing comes. I try going the bathroom, and that’s when all of a sudden I was in a wonderful place. It was garden-like, my friends were there. It was peaceful, pleasant, there was much laughter. I remember thinking, “this is so lovely, I’d like to stay here forever.” But there was something nagging at me, something trying to tug me away from this heavenly spot. It was a voice. It sounded alarmed. And slowly, my focus returned, and I realized it was the voice of my waitress.

Who was scaling the wall of the bathroom stall in order to come save me, as I had passed out, hit the concrete floor with my head like I meant it, and given myself a concussion.

The nimble woman managed her way over, unlocked the door and soon I was being tended to by a cadre of truly awesome women. People, tip your servers nicely. You never know when they may be saving what little of your dignity you have left. Yes, dignity, my friends. As attentive readers may have noticed, I was trying to go the bathroom when I Greg Louganis’ed my way into the concrete. Which meant that while my mind was in heaven, my body was sprawled out on a dirty bathroom floor, bare rump side up.

Not only was it as awesome as it sounds, it was even awesomer than that.

As I’m assisted into a sitting position I hear some of the servers suggest I am intoxicated. My waitress, God bless her, insists that I didn’t have much to drink, that there was no way my problems were being caused by alcohol. I vaguely gestured in her direction, slurring, “what she said.”

So, after some time Evan appears, and a bit after that, the EMTs arrive, and, finally, I puke up all that fried stuff in my stomach. And I immediately feel ten times better. Although still concussed.

Eventually it’s time for me to make my exit. I am, how do you say? Ah yes, humiliated, but there is no way out other than to go through the dining area. My sweet waitress assures me that we’ve been in the restroom so long every table has since turned over. I leave the bathroom and find she is right. It is a small comfort as I make my walk of shame to the parking lot.

And so, kids, the lesson here is – stay hydrated! Hydration is important! Without it, you can pass out half naked in public and that’s not fun! So don’t learn that lesson the hard way, take it from me – drink eight glasses a day, no matter what!

The Trail Ride -or- The Day I Almost Killed One of My Best Friends

Yesterday, my friends, I went on a trail ride that will live on in infamy as the single greatest cluster to have occurred at our fine equestrian center.

It began more than a month ago, when Mr. Jones came by the barn. He was asking if he and his friends could park here. They were all going to “car pool” down to an Atlanta Falcons game, the “car” was a gigantic luxury coach bus they’d rented, and it needed room to turn around. We said sure they could do that, and Mr. Jones added that his son, his wife and three kids were coming for Thanksgiving and they wanted to ride horses on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. We said that’d be great.

The Falcons game arrives, and again Mr. Jones mentions the ride. They wanted a ride for four, but Ginger has been out with an abcess. They amended the ride to three adults and two kids for a pony ride. He says, “make the reservation for after lunch.” Then gets on the bus and leaves. Well, “after lunch” really isn’t too specific, and we’d already booked one ride in the early afternoon. I begin a game of phone tag with Mr. Jones that goes on forever, and he’s clearly annoyed by it. Which, in turn, annoys me. Finally, we connect and I book him for noon.

Now, a month goes by. Our schedule becomes so complicated with families booking, canceling, re-booking, changing their schedule, on and on, you’d need a flow chart to follow it. And also, three days ago, Butter’s arthritis flared up to the point she was put on stall rest.

Now, we have a black book in the office where rides are scheduled, and a giant erase board calendar on the wall outside. Somewhere in all that hullabaloo, that Jones family disappeared.

On Saturday we started very early. I had two pony rides, given two one hour lessons, ran to get lunch, because we had the Whitakers at noon, and when I came back – there were Joneses. There for the 11:30 ride. (11:30??? I have no idea where that came from.)

OHHHHHH NOOOOOOOOOO….. Says I. In that deep, distorted-by-slow-motion sort of way.

Melissa and I go into frantic mode.

Melissa

Melissa, aboard Gigi, leads a trail ride. This one did not involve a near death experience.

There was much confusion and chaos, but ultimately we ended up with the little girl on Lady, the brother on Scout, the dad (a complete novice) – on Gigi – our new horse who had never been ridden EVER by anyone other than a very experienced rider, and the mom on Ginger.  Please do not call PETA on us. Melissa and I debated it long and hard, and Ginger had not been limping, she was six weeks out from her abcess, and so we put a boot on her and off we went.

Melissa and I are on foot.

I lead the way, with Lady behind me, and I have to set a wicked pace so the horses don’t get too jammed up – they need to be properly strung out. Plus, I had adrenaline on my side. Right as we’re leaving the arena, me in the front and Melissa in the back with the dad and Gigi, Melissa says, “can you do this by yourself?”

I practically yell, “NO. I need you with me.” Melissa laughs, “I’m not sure I am going to make it.”

I start cursing Melissa in my mind. What the hell is she doing? Trying to abandon me with these four complete novice riders, most of whom have never even sat on a horse before. I was angry. And so I walked faster. Now, I am short, but when I want to walk fast, I can hustle. So we’re flying along this trail, it’s an hour long, a lot of hills. And I mean HILLS.

We get halfway around. Now, we did this trail THE DAY PRIOR. What is in our way? A gigantic tree that has fallen across the trail during the night. It was semi-rotted, but truly a massive tree. At least 14 inches in diameter. We couldn’t walk over it because of the limbs and because that trail is like a gulley – the tree had fallen, hit the other side, broke in the middle and sat there making a V shape. I told Melissa to stay with the riders, that I was going to move it. I go over there and try to move it. There is no way. But I think, maybe I can break off enough limbs that they can walk over. So I am struggling with this, and Melissa says, gruffly, “you can’t move it so stop trying.”

 Nobody tells me I can’t move a downed tree. It is what I do.

I grab a limb and haul one end off, but I can’t let it go or it’ll roll back into the way. So everybody has to pass me while I am holding it in place. The mom was seriously freaked out. 

We continue on, and as Melissa led the group past the tree, she wound up in front and now I was back with the dad and Gigi. And he starts going on and on about how wonderful she is. He’d only ever ridden his sister’s Appaloosas, he said, and they’d thrown him twice. Gigi was a “babydoll” he said. Which made me smile. 

He also said he knew his dad was furious about the reservation problem but that he’d talk to him. 

We’re getting kind of close to the end, and kind of close to the end is one gigantic mother of a hill that goes straight up forever and forever. Melissa stops and says, “you’ll have to take the lead.” I’m thinking she needs a break from setting the pace, so I take over and march up the hill. Now, once you get to the top of this hill a bad thing happens – it keeps climbing. Not nearly as steep, but you don’t get a break. So I am climbing and climbing, head down, just doing it. This goes on forever. We finally reconnect with the main trail. The dad says, “I guess we lost somebody.”

What? I say.

“Yeah, Melissa’s not there anymore. I guess she got tired.”

Everything inside me freezes – MELISSA IS SEVERELY DIABETIC.

“Can you do this by yourself? I don’t think I can make it.”

Code words from a diabetic trying to tell her friend that her insulin pump isn’t working. What does her friend yell back?

“NO. I need you to come with me.”

I THEN REMEBER I DON’T HAVE MY CELL PHONE.

I tell the family Melissa is a diabetic and the father offers me Gigi. I say that’s okay, and I run as fast and as hard as I can back down the trail. There is no Melissa within 200 yards. I come back, and tell the dad that yes, I will take his horse. I would have rather had Lady, but I couldn’t take the horse from the little girl, Ginger was hurt, Scout had a little boy on him – only Gigi makes sense. But Gigi is young, green, and extremely herdbound. EXTREMELY herdbound. She’s only been taught one thing – walk on a trail.

The dad offers me his helmet and I decline – I remembered he was wearing a large, and that’s too big for me, and I can’t take a helmet off of anybody else. I don’t adjust the long, long stirrups, because I am figuring I am going to find Melissa and put her up on Gigi and she has such long legs.

I dramatically tell the dad, “I need you to lead your family back to the barn!” It was very Last of the Mohicans.

And off Gigi and I go, and bless her heart, she gives me no problem. Except she’s definitely freaking out on the inside, wondering what’s going on, feeling my tension, but I just keep telling her what a brave mare she is, and she believes me. We run back to where we last saw Melissa – there’s no Melissa. I cannot figure out where she could have gone. I run up the big long steep hill, and at the top of that hill is Petey the Mule’s pasture. He belongs to a neighbor. We race to the top of the hill, and Petey appears, spooking Gigi, who rears and wheels.

Now, you could say I fell off, but I think it is more accurate to say I made an emergency dismount.  I landed on my feet in any case, and took this as a sign that I needed to go ahead and shorten the stirrups.

I get back on and decide to head to the gatehouse. As the crow flies it’s not far away, and I figure if Melissa realized she was in trouble, she may have gone there. In any case, I can ask for help. Between Gigi and I and the gatehouse is woods, Petey’s pasture, and manicured landscaping that lines the drive to the gatehouse.

Unbelievably Gigi is incredibly brave and generous about wading through woods, snaking along Petey’s pasture, and putting a good number of hoofprints into the landscaped hillside.

We then go trotting right down the middle of Cleo Chapman Highway, as I am hoping the guard will see us and come out. That part was actually kind of cool. Our gatehouse is very grand, and I thought that this must of have been what it was like coming up to a big estate before there were cars.

Anyway, fantasyland aside, the stupid guard sees us, but won’t come out. So Gigi and I have to go through the gate like a car. I tell him what’s going on and circle while he’s making calls. Gigi doesn’t mind the traffic too much, but not getting anywhere, just circling, is making her antsy.

Finally the guard finds Melissa – she’d regained consciousness and cut straight through the woods towards the Equestrian Center, and because she had her cell phone, was able to call Hugh the maintenance man for help, and he had come and gotten her. She was okay.

So, there is nothing for it but to hoof it down Cleo Chapman Highway. We have ten minutes before our next ride, and Gigi and are I needed.

We trot along the side of the road for about a ½ a mile. Everybody who passes us waves, like oh look! Isn’t it nice to see a girl out for a ride on her white horse! And I wave back like, yeah! The last hour and a half have been fantastic!

Gigi and I arrived on time, and after a brief break, where Melissa and I strangely spent about ten minutes laughing hysterically, we took out an incredibly uneventful ride with the Whitakers, who had kindly allowed their ride to be bumped back to one.

 The end.