It was 1992. My husband and I, barely married for over a year, were living in Sacramento, California. When Valentine’s Day rolled around, it landed on a weekday, so we decided we’d wait to celebrate until Saturday, so we could spend the day together.
Well, Saturday rolled around and my husband decided to go to our racquet club to play basketball for a little while. I didn’t mind, because it was a lazy Saturday morning, one of those quiet kinds of mornings you have when you don’t have kids, and I was moving a little slowly. So I sent him off in our only car, thinking he’d be back in an hour or so.
Well, time dragged by, and I waited…and waited. At first, I figured he was playing with some of the members of the Sacramento Kings basketball team, as a few of them were also members of our club. Unfortunately, as long as he was playing basketball, I couldn’t go anywhere, because he had the car, and the only things nearby were a grocery store, bike shop, and pizza parlor. And while I loved Round Table’s pizza, I didn’t really feel like going there alone.
The first hour dragged by. Then the second. And a third. Nowadays I’d busy myself with something online, but in those days of dial-up Prodigy accounts and computers so old that the screens were black and green (remember those?), the internet certainly wasn’t an option.
After three hours had gone by, I’d had enough. I called the Club and had them page my husband (we didn’t have cell phones, either). Shockingly, he came right to the phone. “I need you to come get me,” he said. He sounded really loopy.
“I can’t,” I told him. “You have the car!”
It turns out he had done something to his finger. His pinky, to be exact. I have since learned that, if you want to take a 6’1″ man down, hurt his pinky. Back then I was a little less than impressed. He was sure it was broken. I was thinking of a few things I wouldn’t mind breaking myself.
I had to go upstairs and ask my neighbor, Ron, for a ride over. He was such a sweet guy, he agreed right away–despite the fact that he was on a date!
At the club, my husband looked like he had been run over by a truck. He was pale and sweating. I helped him stagger out to the car, and I drove him to the Mercy hospital.
WHY I took him there instead of Sutter Memorial, I’ll never know. If you were to go to Mercy Hospital on any given Saturday in 1992, you would have found an E.R. waiting room packed with the detritus of humanity. And the police were still bringing in more! Drunks, druggies, vagrants…you name it. They dragged one guy in who was so high, he continued screaming and struggling against the policemen as they dragged him past and into the nether regions of the hospital.
It got worse. When they finally called my husband’s name, Nurse Ratched–weighing in at about 400 pounds and sporting a chin hair and a sour expression (I’m so not kidding you)–refused to let me sit with my husband. She sent me packing with a rude snap, and off I went, back to the waiting room from Hell.
For the next couple hours, I tried to watch TV and ignore the chaos around me. I couldn’t leave–who knew when he’d be done, and we didn’t have a cellular telephone. Nobody I knew did. I couldn’t stay with him in the room, either. So I sat and waited it out.
When Nurse Ratched finally sent him out with a bandaged pinky, she gave me the news that he had not broken his pinky–he had dislocated it. She had “snapped his finger back into place”, and he was good to go. The hospital loaded him up on painkillers, handed me a prescription that I needed to fill immediately, and sent us on our way.
As we drove to the pharmacy, my husband, drunk on some medication, offered to take me out to dinner anyway. I just ignored him, went to get his meds, and put him to bed when we got home. He went right off to sleep, and I spent the rest of the night watching TV. Happy Valentine’s Day to me!
* * * * *
We’ve been married for 21 years now, and I want you to know that he’s definitely made that day up to me many times over! But I still love telling this story. It’s funny…now…but boy, was I ticked off back then!
Before you think my husband is an insensitive jerk, believe me when i say he’s super sweet guy. He’s supportive and kind. He is easy about taking over kid duty, and will happily take care of dinner and the nighttime routine if I am otherwise occupied. He does dishes and laundry without complaining, and if he is horrible at sweeping, oh well–I can deal with that. My husband is also a great dad, and he is so good at making us all laugh.
And if he messes with me, I can just grab him by that formerly dislocated pinky, and take him down.
I wouldn’t trade that day, or my husband, for all the perfect Valentine’s Days in the world!
Happy Valentine’s Day, Kent. I love you.
I hope everyone else has a great Valentine’s Day, too!