Post 67 / Hour 70: Beer and Tweezers

A Bachelor’s Guide to Home Safety

By Dave Fox
Seattle, Washington

Here is an important Home Safety Quiz:

Your friend Bryan comes over to barbecue. After you pressure Bryan into drinking two beers and a shot of akvavit, he accidentally breaks a glass on your kitchen floor. He cleans up the glass and apologizes. What should you do?

A. Thank Bryan for his honesty
B. Punch Bryan
C. Scrub your floor and wear shoes in the kitchen for the next month
D. I don’t know anyone named Bryan. This is a stupid question.

The correct answer is “C,” but 97 percent of American bachelors get it wrong. This is because we are concerned with important non-floor-cleaning tasks such as drinking more beer.

The above scenario is purely hypothetical, and Bryan is fictitious. I stress this because Bryan has requested that I not write about him, and Bryan is hypothetically 6-foot-4 (which, by the way, is why “B” is not a viable answer).

If you got the answer wrong, don’t feel bad. It’s a trick question. The most important part is not the broken glass, but the fact that Bryan had consumed several alcoholic beverages. He cleaned up the glass to the best of his ability, but as is proven by the mathematical rule known as Bubba’s Theorem of Booze and Cleaning, a man’s ability to judge cleanliness decreases exponentially as his alcohol consumption increases.

The preceding scenario hypothetically occurred on Saturday. Afterward, Bryan and I went to a local bar to play Ping-Pong and drink more beer. (Bryan’s hypothetical wife was our designated driver.) I returned home, went to bed, and ran barefoot around my condo on Sunday and Monday without incident.

Then on Tuesday I decided to engage in an un-bacheloresque activity and cook dinner. This required entering my kitchen, which is when I noticed an odd glass-like sensation in the bottom of my foot.

Looking down, I spotted a jagged piece of glass on the floor. It looked suspiciously similar to the blue shot glass Bryan had hypothetically broken. Either I had stepped lightly on the large piece of glass and scratched myself, or I had crashed down — not very lightly — on a smaller sliver of glass. Carefully examining the bottom of my foot (which is not easy… try it), I could not see anything. This is when my pasta started boiling over, and I forgot about my foot.

Until 5 a.m. Wednesday.

I awoke with a sharp stabbing pain. I deduced that the glass from the night before had not gone away.

So I got up and again tried to look at my foot and saw that — yes — it was kind of dirty. And it had a tiny piece of blue glass stuck in it.

Not wanting to deal with this, I shaved and went back to bed. When I awoke at 7:30, the glass was still there. At 8:00, I called my HMO.

[Note to non-American readers: HMO stands for “Health Maintenance Organization.” These are places with 10 or 20 doctors. They have all of these doctors so that when a doctor can’t see you immediately, there is no specific doctor for you to target your frustrations at. It helps cut down on violence here in America, where handguns are legal.]

David the HMO receptionist sounded annoyed that I was calling. He explained several doctors were on vacation, and those who were working were already double- and triple-booked. If I wanted, I could have an appointment at 2:45, as long as I understood I would be the lowest priority and would be seen after the two other people with 2:45 appointments were taken care of, or deceased. Or I could talk on the phone with a consulting nurse. I wasn’t sure how a nurse would remove the glass over the phone, but it seemed like what David wanted me to do, so I let him transfer me.

“You’ve been coming here since 1996 and we have no record of a tetanus shot,” the nurse said. “You’ll need a booster.”

“This is a splinter,” I explained. “There’s no blood. You can barely see the thing.”

“This sounds like an emergency,” she said. “Let me see if we can get you in earlier than 2:45.”

She put me on hold.

“You can come at 2:10,” she said when she returned.

So I arrived at 2:10. At 2:25 a nurse took my blood pressure.

Why do they always take my blood pressure? In the last six years, I’ve visited my doctor for everything from flus and colds to intestinal unpleasantries to pulled muscles to depression to dandruff. Yes, even for dandruff, they took my blood pressure.

“Your blood pressure is excellent,” they always tell me, as if that will somehow make me happy about the piece of glass in my foot.

They also ask me — every single time — if I smoke. Do they want to offer me a cigarette? Or are they hoping if they ask enough, I’ll break down and confess to the two and a half Camel Lights I smoked last year?

After the nurse left, I sat and read for 45 minutes. At 3:15, Dr. Johnson arrived.

“Usually splinters come out on their own if you soak them,” she said. “But I think I can get this one with a needle and tweezers. We can do it with or without anesthesia.”

“Wait,” I said, “did you say I could just soak it?”

“Yes but I think I can get it with a needle. I can give you an injection to numb it if you want.”

She was letting me choose between sticking a needle in my foot to pull the splinter out, or sticking a bigger needle deeper into my foot so I wouldn’t feel the little one.

“But can I just soak it?”

“Well, yes, if you want. After four or five days it will probably come out.”

I wasn’t willing to wait five days. And the Novocain sounded more painful than the splinter.

So she scraped and tweezed for several minutes without anesthesia, stopping frequently to let me whimper. I knew she was behind schedule, probably triple-booked for 2:45, but she was very patient. I liked Dr. Johnson.

I didn’t like what she was doing, however. “Owww!” I whined. “The needle hurts.”

“That’s not the needle. I’m just touching it with my finger. It’s the glass.”

“Well it hurts.”

“There’s not even any blood yet,” Dr. Johnson said.

“Blood” was not a word I wanted to hear, nor was “yet” in this context. I began to feel nauseous.

“Maybe I should just soak it,” I suggested.

“That’s fine,” she said. “If it’s not out in a few days, you can come back.”

A few days. Five more minutes of big pain or five more days of medium pain.

“Can we try once more?” I asked.

So she scraped some more with the needle and then went for the tweezers. I was not liking the tweezers.

“I just want to try to grab it,” she said

My legs were two screaming muscle spasms. I was starting to hyperventilate.

“Wait,” she said. “I think it’s out. I can’t see it. Does this hurt?”

It didn’t hurt.

“No.”

“This?”

She pressed hard on the bottom of my foot. It didn’t hurt. At least not like before.

We both squinted at the paper she had placed under my foot to catch any blood.

There it was: a glass sliver the approximate size of half an amoeba.

“That’s it,” she said. “You were very good.”

“You’re a liar,” I said.

My foot was sore as I hobbled out of the HMO. I went home, drank a beer, and whimpered some more. That’s what we bachelors do when no one’s around and we’re in pain. We drink beer and whimper.

I called Bryan and told him what happened. He felt horrible. He had genuinely tried to clean up the glass. He promised me beer for my pain and suffering, and said he was very very hypothetically sorry.

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Published on Monday, March 4, 2013

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