“Real Love is a Sphere,” Jedd Evan texts to me, haiku-style, today. “The center is everywhere/Circumference, nowhere.” I’m inclined to agree with him. This is a man who fashioned a bed out of three stacked air mattresses duct-taped to one another and thinks a viable meal is warm Ragu straight out of the saucepot, consumed while huddled over the stove armed with a plastic ladle. While some girls would insist on a bed frame and some actual dishes, I find him rife with illimitable charm.
We had been planning a trip to the Pizza Hut buffet for several weeks, and we had finally agreed on a date and time. We were to get up at 9am on Tuesday and run our bank, post office, grocery and hardware store errands in backwards order all the way down Franklin Street. This would put us at Pizza Hut at 1pm, giving us one precious hour to turboload at the Buffet. Of course, we didn’t actually wake up until 12:45, so we just piled into the car in our pajamas and sped off. It was raining so hard I couldn’t see ten feet past the windshield. After a few blocks, I realized I had left my instant coffee on the roof, so in my sleepy rainy brain haze, I slammed on the brakes in the middle of the street and Jedd jumped out to retrieve it. In his haste to get back into his seat, he opened the door into his face, and a 2-inch gash immediately formed above his right eye.
He produced an old, dusty roll of paper towels from the back seat and used some to stop the bleeding while I drove erratically, hyperventilating with terror and concern. He clearly needed stitches. My panic almost propelled me into a tree and several other cars in the vicious storm.
“We HAVE to go home you are BLEEDING,” I gasped.
“NO!! TO PIZZA HUBUFFAY,” he slurred, pressing on the paper towel that was quickly becoming saturated with his blood and what I imagined to be bits of his brilliant brain matter.
“NO. WE ARE GOING TO THE HOSPITAL!”
“NOOOO I AM FINE I’M APPLYING PRESSURE!”
“FINE THEN! SCREW PIZZA HUT, WE ARE GOING to BUY SOME THINGS TO CLEAN YOU,” I said, heading to the store next to the Pizza Hut, and though I tried to slip past it, hoping the rain would shield it from my now-half-blind patient, he saw it anyway.
“THAT IS TH’ PIZZAHUBUFFAY GO THERE IT IS 1:17,” he yelled, demonstrating his unflagging devotion to soggy breadsticks and cheese from a ten gallon bucket.
“NO we are going to the FIRST AID AISLE of the ROSE’S,” yet while I was admonishing him for his inability to prioritize, I was simultaneously turning into the Pizza Hut parking lot because I really just want him to have what he wants at all times.
Before I even removed the key from the ignition, he had exited the vehicle and bounded up to the door of the Pizza Hut, already soaking wet and holding this ridiculous paper towel to his head to keep his brains in. I thought I was going to cry. I followed him into the restaurant only to face a cold, empty, decidedly pizza-free stainless steel buffet.
“Where, we. . .um. . .we need the Lunch Buffet?” He said, on the verge of tears.
“Oh we don’t do no buffet no more,” some giant, beleaguered woman nonchalantly offered over her shoulder as she lumbered over to the lone table of patrons in the corner of the grimy dining room. With my two working eyes, I glared at my retreating archnemesis, and her enormous tent of a uniform shirt whose color exactly matched the burnt orange countertops. With his one working eye, Jedd Evan blinked at the space where the buffet would have been.
I ushered him back to the car and we headed to the Rose’s, which is sort of a poor-man’s discount K-Mart, if the K-Mart was built in a shanty, super-trashy, in a perpetual state of final clearance, staffed with a combination of dubiously-behaving socially-retarded teenagers and middle-aged, divorced, obese women with teased hair, and sold plus-size underwears out of a giant bin for one dollar, tax included. I love Rose’s and I constantly find excuses to go there, and what’s more, there was a Chic-Fil-A next to it. Score.
I deposited Jedd Evan in the first aid aisle and went off to the clothing section in search of a hoodie. I located a gray one for six dollars and headed back to retrieve my patient. I found him calmly surveying the shampoo situation while he folded his bloody paper towel into eighths and sixteenths and thirtyseconds. He was manning a basket full of canned soup, Band-Aids, Peroxide, A-1 Sauce, tiny superglue, more canned soup, a pack of t-shirts, an air freshener shaped like a tree, a stack of metal forks, and a small area rug. This was not supposed to be a shopping trip. This was supposed to be a hospital proxy.
When we approached the check-out, the cashier immediately identified a problem with Jedd Evan’s face and offered the Rose’s fitting rooms as a substitute triage. He selected his tools from the pile. Band-Aids, check. Peroxide, check. Superglue, check. Wait. WHAT? But he was already gone. I really took issue with the inclusion of Superglue in his surgical repertoire, but I was silent as I watched him head for the fitting rooms.
But he did not go to the fitting rooms. No. Instead, he plopped down in the middle of the Homewares section and used Rose’s collection of $5 full-length plastic-framed mirrors as a suitable place to fix himself. Almost immediately, the intercom crackled with a plea for security to tend to “Section E, Area 4, Code Blue,” which I could only interpret as the code for, “A Wet, Bleeding Man is Currently Repairing his Gaping Head Wound with Our Discount Adhesives in Bedroom Décor.”
With a resigned sigh I settled into an armchair, its “Final Sale” tag digging into my forearm, and waited. He emerged, smiling and bandaged, and we still managed to have a nice lunch at the Chik-Fil-A. It’s amazing how good waffle fries taste after a brush with death.
Though I really did not want his wound to become infected and cause him more, very expensive trouble, I knew it was the only way my panic and alarm would be justified. But I, too, am wrong every once in a great while. In under 24 hours, his head looked perfectly fine, the gash reduced to a scab under an inch long. Apparently Superglue is okay to use in lieu of actual medical attention, and he knew it. Real love is a sphere, he said, and he’s right. My instinct to protect him did not allow me to trust his guerilla medicine. I should just focus on finding other ways to show I care, so I suppose my next move is to track down a Pizza Hut with an actual buffet.