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6:24 a.m. - 2004-03-30


So I go to this "laboratory" yesterday to get some "blood work" done.

I know. It sounds like a premise for a vampire movie, huh?

Actually, the "laboratory" was more like a "waiting room" and the "blood work" was extremely painful but at least it wasn't performed on my jugular vein.

I get there at 8 a.m. because I got a letter in the mail saying "Be at the laboratory at 8 a.m. sharp. If you're later than that, the Count will become very agitated and will bite your neck and then you'll become one of the undead children of the night and, by God, you sure as shit don't want that."

I'm by far the youngest person standing outside the laboratory waiting impatiently for some asshole, any asshole, to show up and open the doors and let us in.

Finally, at 8:12 a.m. one of the lazy asshole nurses decides that Jerry Springer is indeed a repeat episode and she may as well get off her fat ass and let us in.

We all stare at each other silently, trying to decide who was there first, followed by the second one to show up and so forth so that we can all get in a line that reflects our punctuality. If nothing else, we've become a democracy of sorts.

We get in there and hand over our ID and the precious insurance card and are told to sit down in the waiting room.

We're then called one by one into an adjacent room where a surly nurse will be removing 3-4 gallons of our blood for kicks.

I finally get my turn in the blood room and she straps me up.

She sticks the needle in.

Pain shoots up and down my arm, temporarily numbing it.

I'm a badass when it comes to absorbing pain. I can sit there and not even grimace while gallon after gallon of my blood is siphoned out of my arm. I'm like the Mick Foley of the barely employed sect.

I was then given a bottle of this orange liquid that was "a bit sweet" in the nurse's words. It was basically a thick glob of sugary glucose in a bottle. I was told to swill it over the next hour.

"Can I just guzzle it all in one gulp?" I asked.

"I don't care," the nurse mumbled.

So I tipped the bottle to my lips and chugged the shit outta that thing.

If thick wads of feverish phlegm came in a brown sugar flavor, that's what it'd taste like.

I drank it in less than 15 seconds and was a bit lightheaded afterwards. That was more sugar than I've had in the last three years combined.

I stumbled back out to the waiting room and that's when I saw it.

The Holy Grail of Laboratory Waiting Rooms.

The new issue of "People Magazine".

It was buried amidst the National Geographics, Highlights for Children and dog-eared copies of Field and Streams from the late 70s.

I'm not proud.

I lunged for the magazine.

...Just as a blue haired skank with a metal walker nabbed it first.

I briefly entertained the idea of screaming "YOU FUCKING PIECE OF HOBBLED, FOSSILIZED SHIT!!" at her, but decided that since we were all going to be in the same room for the next 3.5 hours, it may be best to just sit it out and wait for her to finish leafing through the magazine.

This would all be well and good, except Grandma would read a sentence, turn the magazine over in her lap and then close her eyes and slowly massage her temples.

She did this over. And over. And over again.

There's no TV in the waiting room.

The rest of the available magazine selection is about as dull as a mime in a coma.

There was no doubt about it.

I NEEDED that People Magazine in order to keep my sanity if I was going to be stuck in this room full of geriatric wunderkinds all morning long.

I devised a plan.

I would get up from my chair, saunter over to the coffee table, shuffle through the magazines as if I couldn't tell what they were from my chair a mere three feet away, and then sit down next to Granny and the People Magazine and see if we could work out some sort of deal.

I did just that and sat down in the available seat next to Granny.

Who was currently giving her temples an erotic massage of sorts.

"You done with that magazine?" I asked, gesturing toward the magazine on her lap.

"Not yet," she replied with her eyes closed and fingers working magic circles on her face.

"I'd like to read it when you're finished," I murmured, figuring it couldn't hurt to put dibs on the room's most coveted magazine.

"We'll see," she said.

"We'll see???"

"We will FUCKING see?!?"

No lady. There's no "seeing" about it. I made a simple, logical request to read the magazine. Call it a strange fucking obsession with having to know what the fuck Paris Hilton did last week ... I don't care.


I mumbled "Thanks" and went back to my original chair.

It was right about then that we were all graced with the presence of Ms. Coughy McSneezealot.

Ms. McSneezealot was a tall woman with matted hair in a stained sundress and bedroom slippers.

Apparently she was suffering from the Plague. Because this woman walked into the waiting room honking and sputtering with fluids oozing from every pore in her head.

Those of us who had been there for a while all kinda exchanged worried glances with each other.

This was a small waiting room.

And there was limited seating.

In fact, we were down to three available seats in the room.

Coughy was going to HAVE to sit next to one of us and spend the next several hours spewing phlegm all over us.

Naturally, she chose to sit next to me because I had made what I thought was the wise decision early on to pick a seat furthest away from everyone else.

Coughy plopped her nasty ass self next to me and greeted me with a deep honking chest cough sprinkled with enough diseased saliva to take out a small African village.


I crossed my legs and shifted in my chair, trying to position my face and its germ-absorbing features as far away from Coughy as I could and decided that I'd play the game of "How Long Can You Stare At The Wall Before You Start Stabbing People Out Of Boredom?"

Apparently, while playing this game, Granny decided that after 20 minutes of holding on to the People magazine that she would rather rub her temples than read.

So what does she do?

She puts the goddamned magazine BACK on the coffee table where it is promptly swept up by a goddamned newbie in the room.

That's right. A goddamned newbie.

Someone who hadn't even put in the prerequisite amount of time in the room that one should wait before scooping up the most coveted magazine in the room.

I was shocked and awed.

All because Coughy McSneezealot had picked the chair next to me to sweat and hack in.

I was called back into the blood room and another six gallons of blood was extracted from my other arm. It didn't hurt nearly as bad as the first time.

I stumbled wearily back into the waiting room where I collapsed in a chair far, far, far away from Coughy who was now slumped over into my previous chair as well as her own.

This looked like the most uncomfortable position a woman could put herself into short of doggy style with a Great Dane with flashbulbs popping all around her.

Everyone in the room was disgusted with Coughy. In a room where seating has become a luxury, Coughy was letting us all know that she was defying the grim reaper himself by dragging her hay fever-suffering ass into the laboratory of death and taking up two chairs.

Grown adults do not sit in one chair and use the chair next to them to hold their upper body. Especially in a crowded waiting room.

Try explaining that to the Coughy one.

I glanced over at Grandma the People Magazine-hoarding bitch and noticed the magazine had mysteriously left her lap.

I jerked my head around the room quickly to see if I could find the magazine.

The crotchety old fudgepacking bastard with the colostomy bag had nabbed the magazine.

I entertained the thought of leaping from my chair, crouching on the coffee table and making some kung fu sounds before I began kicking the shit out of some retired motherfuckers.

Alas, I merely sat down and glared at Granny Templethumper who didn't return my gaze o' death.

Eventually, as I was sitting there silently reciting the dialogue from the film "National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation" in my head and chuckling softly to myself, a woman that I hadn't seen in years walked in.

We struck up a friendly conversation, getting caught up on what we were doing these days.

"Are you still writing books?" she asked.

"No!" I said cheerfully. "I just got fired from a job two months ago and am still trying to find active employment! God bless the Republicans!"

While she's babbling on and on about God knows what, I'm trying to keep the People Magazine-reading motherfucker in my peripheal vision. I don't want to be obvious about it, but I'd much rather be reading the latest hubbub over "The Passion of the Christ" than listening to this woman prattle on about her brand new house in the city's most expensive neighborhood.

I must have let my guard down for a few scant seconds listening to this woman.

Because unbeknownst to me, Cranky Motherfucker put the magazine back on the coffee table.

Where it was promptly swept up by another person in the room.

One Coughy McSneezealot.

I think, although I'm not completely sure, but I think I audibly groaned.

There was no way in H-E-Double Hockey Sticks I was going to handle this magazine after her germy paws have rubbed her snotty phlegm all over the pages.

And Ms. Recently Married Into The Local Dynasty Friend O' Mine was only there to get some blood work done and then she was gone.

So it was back to sitting with the same cranky bastards and moaning heifers in silence except for the ear-shattering sneezes and thick wet coughs from you know who.

Finally ... the three and a half hours passed.

Blood had been taken out of both of my arms twice.

And I was free to go.

I drove home, 32 lbs. lighter from all the blood I left in the laboratory and collapsed into bed.

An hour later I woke up and took off the bandages and this is what I saw:









(The following picture is very graphic and disturbing. If you have a weak stomach or are prone to vomiting uncontrollably on your computer monitor, you may want to take your eyes out of focus and scroll past the photo. You have been warned.)






The goofy damned woman didn't even bother trying to find a vein on the first go-round. She was just sucking out bone marrow or some shit.

No wonder I thought I was paralyzed that first time.

Now I'm hemmoraghing like a shanked hemophiliac.

I sure as hell hope I've got some fatal rare blood disease.

Because I sure as hell don't want to think I went through all that shit in vain.

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