As you know from last year, the editor of your favorite weekly newspaper spent more time in the news than a journalist is supposed to, between news coverage of the building we’re in, our contributing to a Facebook meme, and my five minutes with Bishop Robert Morlino.
A recurrence almost occurred Friday morning, and it was something that in more than a quarter-century in this line of work had never happened to me before then. One of the jokes about journalism is that nothing very physical occurs in journalism beyond lifting a camera, laptop or notebook. And so this retells how I got my first full-time-work-related injury.
I was five minutes into doing the first half (chronologically speaking) of the story on page 1B when I was asked if I had ever seen Bridal Boutique’s interior before then. (Our daughter is fascinated by the window displays.) If you haven’t, and you are tall, one important feature is the diagonal clothes racks on the side walls. I will spare you the experience of finding this out the hard way: They are solid. If something less solid — say, someone’s forehead — makes substantial contact with them, the less-solid object will lose.
I should add two things here. First, as you might be able to figure out from this space, things that pass through the lives of non-writers are material for writers. (And part of the reason I’m writing this is to not have to retell this story every time someone sees me and asks what happened to my head. I’m not very self-conscious, but I’ve felt since Friday that every time someone looked at me they thought the same thought: What happened to his head?) Second, I have a remarkable ability to find hard objects with my head — van tailgates, car doorsills, stairs above a stairway, etc.
This, however, was the first time I drew so much blood that it required a doctor visit. It may have been store employees’ concern that I might bleed all over their dresses, or they were surprised at how much blood goes through one’s face, but they suggested I needed to go to the doctor. I didn’t lose consciousness, but I was certainly staggered. The blood flow was profuse enough to go through a roll of paper towels and my handkerchief, and only be slowed by an ice pack. Lifting up all of that revealed a triangular piece of skin that was, to use the correct medical term, avulsed, or, to use the vernacular, a flap. I must have looked as if I had participated in a bar fight, though bar fights are not usual at 11 a.m. on a Friday.
So that earned me a trip to the doctor (fortunately not in an ambulance, which would have heightened my embarrassment at my latest clumsiness), six stitches covered by a large bandage, and, one assumes, a potentially permanent V-shaped scar. I briefly thought about writing something on the bandages, similar to former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, who, in his protest against some National Football League rule, wrote the last name of then-commissioner Pete Rozelle prominently on his headband.
The mixed blessing that is social media allowed my Facebook Friends to do what I’d probably do if roles were reversed — pull out every possible bad pun, such as:
• “A guy walks into a bar …” (with apologies to Tyler Farr, and, yes, I forgot to duck).
• “You are taking ‘a guy walks into a bar’ jokes a bit too literally.”
• “How does the bar look?”
• “Are you now a member of the American Bar Association?”
• And my own: “This is the most embarrassing injury I’ve had … bar none.”
Another friend started the narration to the theme of ABC-TV’s “The Six Million Dollar Man” (“We can rebuild him … we have the technology … we can make him better than he was …”), and then decided that the government wasn’t going to spend that kind of money. (For those who haven’t lost interest by now: Steve Austin is one of the three cool Steves in the 2000 movie “The Tao of Steve,” along with actor Steve McQueen and Steve McGarrett of “Hawaii Five-O.”) The brother of a classmate suggested a hockey helmet for future interviews. A fellow church member asked if I had butted heads with another bishop.
All that Facebook love, if that’s what you want to call it, is my fault for (1) getting hurt and (2) having one of those fixing my face post photos on Facebook. (I’ll spare squeamish readers photos here of the result of Bar 1, Steve 0.)
I could, I suppose, use the excuse here that everything in this Journal that ends up in future weeks under “Corrections” could be blamed on my head injury. Instead, I will say that my attempt at a story earned me six stitches, the original story on page 1B, and an Etc. column besides that.