I’m still not sure what was worse on Friday night.
It might have been the old man tumbling down the courtyard steps like a human slinky, and ending up looking like he’d only just survived ten rounds with Mike Tyson. Or it may have been my embarrassing reaction to the sight of his wounds.
I am definitely the favourite for this year’s award for Worst person in a Family Crisis.
Why can’t my life ever be textbook?
Friday was a bad night, even by Dysfunctional Family standards.
What was supposed to be a quiet night at home culminated in five torturous hours spent in Emergency after the old man’s stumble (been meaning to get those steps fixed for a while now) and serious face-planting.
You shouldn’t laugh, he actually hurt himself.
(As in, removed half the side of his face off – the customised Phantom of the Opera mask is on its way as we speak – so the public can face him).
He obviously forgot the main physiological function of arms when in mid-flight.
The first I knew of the disaster was when I was rudely awoken midway through the REM stage of sleep to the sight of what looked like a Tarantino victim staring at me crazily in the eyes.
‘I n.e.e.d h.e.l.p,’ it said.
And there stood my husband, his face plastered in blood (and even more worrying, the blood was dripping all over the rental carpet, so all I could actually envisage were the dollar signs of our rental bond slipping through our fingers).
Obviously, I jumped out of bed full of good intentions, being the perfect wife-let that I can be (when I want to), yet still unsure at that stage of the unfolding horror. Did I need to grab my nail scissors to finish off the mass murderer who was obvioulsy still lurking downstairs, for example?
I tried to calm my hysterical husband the f*ck down, who was a mess mentally as well as physically.
I like to think that his agitated state was the shock; it’s more likely that he’s just a bit of a pussy.
Unfortunately, my chance to prove myself as the North Shore Florence Nightingale was not to be that night. As I investigated the old man’s wounds, I began to feel ominous signs that all was not well. First, the telltale sign of cold moisture began to seep onto my forehead, then I felt the color drain from my face and finally the familiar tugging began to grab at my stomach and bowels. I realised in horror that I was actually going to throw up in my husband’s hour of need.
I never could let him steal the limelight from me.
Life is all about choices in moments of crisis. Sophie had them, Jonny Wilkinson had one, and this was mine. Could I actually ditch the wounded husband for the safety of the toilet bowl? This was, after all, my moment to prove my love and our sacred vows of ‘in sickness and in health’. I blew it. I f*cked up majorly.
I will never live this down in Dysfunctional family history. There will be (‘puker in a crisis’) in brackets next to my name on the family tree.
In fairness I did try to swallow it back down stoically, while trying to restrain the madman in my bedroom (who used to be my husband), who was still tearing around the bedroom like a man possessed, staining all my favourite cushions with his O Neg. But I had to make a call.
The decision finally came as I watched him smear blood all over my new latte headboard – and as any good woman knows, blood (like chocolate) is a b*tch to get out.
It was too much for my stomach. It was time to call God on the big white telephone.
So I pushed my delirious husband firmly back down onto the bed and ordered him not to move, which gave me just enough time to grab Nerd Child out of her slumber to babysit her father, while I focused on hurling the contents of my stomach into the bog.
That’s serious multi-tasking.
And the whole time my head was hanging over the basin I could hear the pitiful voice of the old man tearing at my heart asking NC over and over again, ‘but where’s mum gone?’
But do you think I could lift my head out of that f*cking basin in his time of need?
Finally, and to the obvious unspoken recriminations of ‘worst wife in history’ I managed to pull myself together and look after my man. Nerd Child had managed to calm him down – something to do with her intimate examination of his head wounds and her exclamation about being able to see his skull. I think that when she went to get her scalpel from her bedroom, the old man decided it was best not to move until the ambulance came.
The Emergency room brings back haunting memories for me. The last two times I was there, interestingly, I was up for ‘worst mother’ awards. The first time was for not realising that my daughter had actually ‘broken’ her leg 24 hours previously (rather than just ‘spraining’ it which had been my expert diagnosis – I should have known when the frozen peas didn’t cut it), and the second was for treating her nasty little case of pneumonia with Panadol.
But as I reminded the old man later, this payback had been long overdue. I wasn’t truly the worst person in a family crisis. He received a lifetime achievement for that honour.
For real women never forget. I had always warned him that there would be retribution for him being too sh*tfaced to drive me to the hospital when I went into labour with NC.
But that’s another story.