By Gus Bouchard
If you notice a few missed steaks cropping up in this column noun then, you can blame it on the fact that the Microsoft Windows 7 speech recognition technology has not quite achieved the same level of listening efficiency as a Star Trek computer.
You see, for the first time in my life, I find myself unable to type, thanks to a broken right wrist sustained while karate-chopping a burglar who had broken into my home, no doubt in search of my prized collections of puppets made from Styrofoam packing peanuts.
That would make a much more interesting story, but what really happened was this: I joined a pickup basketball game with a bunch of 20 year olds, and one of them, evidently confused about which sport we were playing, plowed into me like a linebacker as I was scoring a lay-up. I put my hand down to break my fall, and crunched the end of my whatchamacallit bone into several different pieces.
Some people take recreational sports way too seriously. Here I am, just trying to get into shape, proud of myself simply for breaking a sweat for the first time in about three weeks, and these other guys are diving all over the place after loose balls, screaming filthy curse words at the top of their lungs after every missed shot or other slight misfortune within the game, recklessly crashing into people, and a generally behaving as though national security depended upon the outcome of this impromptu competition involving slow white guys in the middle of nowhere. No one living this close to the Arctic Circle should take basketball this seriously.
Anyway, because all my recreation takes place at night, I had to take by broken wrist to the emergency room at Eastern Maine Medical Center, which is doing its best of these days to resemble an intimidating, big-city ghetto hospital.
I was there until 3:30 AM, mainly because inconsiderate people kept showing up with heart attacks and injuries from car accidents, which distracted the ER staff from my predicament. Eventually, they wheeled in a rusty old I-V stand, which had been retrofitted with a variety of metallic and plastic Chinese handcuffs and assorted finger traps. Like some draconian torture device, this beastly contraption lurked next to my bed for an unnerving hour while everyone ran off to deal with another cardiac arrest or whatever.
I finally got hooked up to the thing, but not before the doctor pumped about a gallon of lidocaine into my wrist. The process of “reducing” my wrist – mashing on the bone until it resumed its proper position – took about 10 minutes. It didn’t feel half bad, really.
All in all, I have a lot to be thankful for. My parents dropped their plans and took my daughter for an emergency overnight, and my wife stayed with me through the whole ordeal. The ER staff treated me with compassion and respect, and performed their duties admirably. I’ve discovered how useless my left hand was, but I’ll be proudly ambidextrous by the time a cast comes off in six weeks.
And I don’t live in New Jersey. So you won’t hear me complaining.
Of course, I have not seen the bill yet.