Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Things My Wife Complains About: #4 Saving Lives

At the end of Denis Johnson's story "Emergency," an AWOL soldier asks the deranged hospital orderly purportedly driving him to the Canadian border what he does for a living, and the orderly answers, "I save lives."

I hope I didn't just ruin the ending of one of the best short stories of the last twenty-five years.

Anyhow, I'm like that orderly. I save lives. Not in an abstract sense through literature, though that's also true, but in a concrete sense, via the several pints of blood I donate each year. It's an easy way to assuage my liberal/Catholic guilt over not planting trees or toweling off baby seals or something. I knew I loved my wife when I asked her to donate blood with me and she not only agreed but also almost passed out doing it. That's what I call commitment to a bit! More specifically, she turned pale and started shaking, and when the disinterested orderly-type person vaguely offered her blankets or juice, she shook them off bravely, insisting on filling her bag. If you don't fill your bag, you don't save any lives and you're just some loser missing a lot, though not quite enough, blood.

When you donate blood, they give you a sticker. Voting and blood letting are the only times anyone gives you a sticker after the age of eight.

Did my wife perform all this heroism without complaint? Of course not, though she was still in the complaint-masking stage of our relationship, so it was all pretty minor. I rewarded her by asking her to go steady, 1950s style. She hasn't been hot to donate blood since then.

Proposed solutions!

1) Find, or create, an oil slick and wipe clean all the baby seals
2) Travel somewhere exotic where you're not allowed to donate blood due to the communicable disease you almost certainly acquired.
3) Become a vampire and start taking blood. This only works if you donate the blood you take, not if you drink it (hard).

Key West 2007

2 comments:

eralon said...

I not only accepted that blanket, I begged for it. I did insist on filling my bag-- that part of my heroism is true. And I did go to a country (Guatemala) that prevents me from giving blood-- at least in Virginia.

Cory said...

Senegal got me out of donating for a year. But I'm with Kevin on this obligation.

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