On Wednesday, 30 minutes into the morning, I ran my pinky toe into the bedside table. I hit the floor, simultaneously grabbing my toe with first “God” coming out of my mouth, which compelled me to suppress the second word which almost came of my mouth. I could have said one or the other, but could not, even under such duress, allow them to be said together. So I sat there a few seconds, emitting a long drawn out “f” sound until I was able to stand and hobble to the bathroom. My husband asked what had happened and I accusingly told him that in an effort to walk around him, I had run into the table -- my subtle hint that he had had no right to be standing where he had been standing at that moment. Ridiculous as it was, I left it at that and proceeded to bandage my toe. Not only was it likely broken, it was bleeding too.
For the past two days, against all attempts to walk normally, I have limped dramatically about the school hallways, drawing amusement from students, sympathy from co-workers, and that awkward silence from strangers who don’t know if I am injured or permanently disabled. It’s all very annoying.
It’s always possible that God allowed me to injure the toe to avoid kicking one of my students, as this week one particular student has become more of a pain than broken toe itself. I have long - and patiently - tolerated this student, renowned for disruption. Yesterday he sunk to a new level of disrespect, then had the audacity to threaten to bring a complaint against me. I found myself in a new kind of rage against a system that would even entertain complaints from a student whose single goal is to make life hell for teachers. I railed in my mind against advocacy for kids today, against indulgent parents, against an administration who gives more ear to students than teachers . He added that he would like to be transferred from my class and I laughed and told him to be my guest, sending him on his way.
I took my wounded self and wounded toe home, where I nursed my spirits with a Corona and Pet Society, a game I play on Facebook. Within minutes, I was appalled to find that Pet Society has changed the rules and one can no longer earn coins by brushing or petting his pet. It was already hard enough to earn coins, everything in the little shops is so expensive, and now they had taken away this. I knew their ultimate intent was to force players to break down and purchase coins with real money – a temptation I try to resist. Angry all over again, I sent an email of complaint to “Support,” then one to my mom – who also loves Pet Society – expressing my plan to boycott the game if they didn’t reinstate the feature. Then I shut my laptop and announced to Richie that I wanted to go visit the creek bank and watch the vultures come home. We have many vultures in our area and every evening before sunset, they congregate in groups before heading home to what I have assumed, based on information from one person, was the creek bank. (I had read that vultures carve nests out of hillsides so it made sense to me that they would nest in the hills above the bank.)
There is a nice drive down the hill leading to the bank, so Richie and I drove the truck. I freaked a little at the angle at which the truck tilted on the way down, and hollared that we were going to flip over. I think this annoyed my husband, but he assured me we would not flip, and indeed we remained upright. I then led the expedition, down the steep embankment with my broken toe in my terribly inadequate open-toed croc shoes, which I had to continually empty of sand. We saw not a vulture one. In fact, we saw nothing at all. It was a wilderness entirely devoid of wildlife, with the exception of some minnows. But I took comfort in the sights and smell of the dirt, rocks, water, algae, and hanging, twisted trees – all reminiscent of my childhood home in the woods of West Virginia.
The sun was setting and we headed back up to the truck. In an attempt to avoid the steep angle which had so frightened me, Richie tried to keep to the more level ground. This caused the truck to burrow on one side in the soft, dry dirt, so that now it was at a more alarming angle than ever. Each time Richie hit the accelerator, the truck would slide sideways toward the steep wooded embankment that dropped off into the creek. The low side was my side, and in my mind, we were half upside down already.
Panicked, I opened my door to jump out, an action which drew sharp criticism from Richie – as well as a terrible sense of déjà-vu from my 1st marriage when my ex drove our truck into a ditch on my side and yelled at me when I bailed out the window. I’m not sure where the notion comes from, but apparently I live in a constant state of persuasion that the car I am riding in is about to flip. I shut my door, but continued panicking and opened and shut it two more times before Richie finally realized there was no stopping me. He told me go out his side to keep the weight off my side, so I scrambled over his lap and ended up whacking him hard in the head with my hand. This drew from him an expression I seldom hear, much like the one I staved off when I broke my toe. I froze long enough to apologize with great self-disparagement, then scrambled on out of the truck.
Once outside the truck, I now had a new perspective: my husband was in a truck tilted dangerously on the side of a hill, and it continued its sideways descent each time he stepped on the gas. I could not tolerate this either. I banged on the window and he rolled it down as if he did not know what I was going to say. “You’re going to flip!” I yelled. He got out and appraised the situation, then tried to talk me into placing my weight on the back end of the truck as he tried to drive it out. I obliged, making mental plans to leap if the truck should start flipping. But it was clear within a few more attempts that the truck was irretrievably stuck.
We had to walk all the way back home, most of which is a steep uphill climb. I limped along, wondering how so many of my ideas end up in disaster, and how many more misguided suggestions I could make before my husband stopped listening to me. My dad had learned after only once, when my insistence that we view the Marfa lights from a sealed-off construction site resulted in him falling into a giant hole.
Richie and I decided to call on our friend Ralph, who agreed to help us dislodge the truck. We hadn’t seen Ralph in awhile, so we packed up some beer and headed over for his traditional Friday night get-together. I hobbled to Ralph for one of his bear hugs, and he promptly stepped on my broken toe.
So that’s how my week ended. I have two days to recover, and I will try to keep myself out of trouble and make only the meekest suggestions, if any.