So the other night, Rizzo hated me again. Bad. The only solution was to transfer me to yet another Unit, which—Oh My Goodness, Guys—was absolutely insane (oh, another bad word choice, oh).
Apparently, my normal ward is the Parent-Killer Ward, where the majority of the patients have killed their parents, but are now stabilized and generally remorseful… I hear stories… stories that involve point blank shots and axes.
But this is NOTHING compared to where I worked the other night. I’m not really sure what the grouping is over there, but it was majority men, all of whom were under 35, except for Hermit Guy who looked remarkably like Willie Nelson-meets-Andre The Giant.
Another guy looks IDENTICAL to Scott Stapp from Creed, and was quick to tell me about all the various celebrities who have given him STDs.
When I first got there, I was like chum thrown off the back of a fishing boat. They were circling around, making the usual Creepy Psych Ward Guy Comments:
“You smell goooood, is that Cool Water?”
“I like your bracelets, are they real gold?”
“I like your haaaaaiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrrAAAaaarRRRggghhhhh”
“Can I touch your tattoos?”
“That’s a real nice watch, how much it cost you?”And then, of course, because I am new, I need to hear all their Origin Stories.
Gilbert quickly begins a shouting lecture about how to wire a house.
"AND THEN YOU TAKE 20 BLACK WIRES AND THAT’S HOW MANY YOU CAN HAVE COMIN’ OUT OF ONE OF THEM BLACK BOXES, AND YOU YOU—WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD DO IF YOU WERE DRIVIN’ A BIG RIG AND YOU STARTED JACK KNIFIN’?"
“I, uh, what, I don’t know, what would I do?”
"COME ON TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE, TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE, YOU GOTTA KNOW THIS STUFF!"
“Uh, I think I’d probably start freaking out, wondering why I’m driving a big rig?”
"OH COME ON NOW, TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE, WHAT WOULD YOU DO? YOU’RE GOIN’ ALONG THE HIGHWAY—he puts his arms up and mimics the casual steering of a happy trucker—AND THEN, OUT OF NO WHERE—his arms fly in the air—YOU’RE JACK-KNIFIN’ OUT OF CONTROL, WHAT’RE YOU GONNA DO?—hands splayed to either side in bewilderment—WHAT’RE YOU GONNA DO?"I’m still shrugging, so he approaches from another angle:
“I gotta wash my jacket, it’s got the poison in it, and you—you don’t know my family, they’ll leave you twitchin’ in the field then get back to playin’ Nintendo 64 like back in the day.”He ends abruptly and walks away, glancing back for a moment at my customary Face-Of-Blankness, then gives a high pitched cackle, “That’s Funny Stuff!”
Another guy starts telling me about how he used to sell drugs and pimp girls out to pay his bills,
Pimp: I don’t know what I’m gonna do when I get out of here, probably sell babies on the black market or something.
Me: I think that is a very bad idea.
Pimp: Well, I mean, next thing you know, my roommate’ll be eatin’ my tray and there’s blood coming under the door, Mamacita! Dolla Dolla- Uno! Is that three, or four? All kinds of drugs is what I sold, and I could cook anything, with Sudafed, I was a chemist with an ice chest of 300lbs of ecstasy and a pistol in my bed, that’s $200 million on the street, and I even had me a limousine.”Next, I encounter Donnie, sitting off to the side, reaching and grasping at the air.
Donnie: Can you see them?
Me: What am I looking for?He keeps grasping the air, like he is overzealously weeding a garden.
Donnie: The rabbits, they’re everywhere!I look around, not for the rabbits, but for Ashton Kutcher, popping out from behind a wall with a boom mic and a camera crew, laughing “You’ve Been Punk’d!”
But there is no Ashton, and there are most definitely no Rabbits.
Donnie: Here, if I can just catch one and squish it, you’ll see the smoke.The Hermit sits off to the side, watching with what I choose to believe is a very well hidden look of amusement. When I meet his gaze he looks away and down his silver Santa-Beard, folding his ring-covered hands in his lap.
A few minutes later, The Hermit walks by the desk, just after my coworker Brad has come to rescue me from CREEPTASTIC GUY who came over to stand close, saying many things, the least vulgar of which was that he wanted to get a good look at me before he took a shower. Brad runs him off, then inclines his dreadlocked head ever-so-slightly towards The Hermit, whispering covertly.
“Gandalf The Grey.”For the rest of the night, I am more terrified than normal of falling asleep, for fear that I will wake to Gandalf standing over me, peering down and lit from behind, hoarsely interrogating:
“Is It Secret, Is It Safe?!”For Super Bowl Night, I am back to my own ward because Rizzo has, at least for now, forgotten that she hates me.
The night commences in all sorts of fabulous spectacles. First, “Angelique,” the alter-ego of Rocky, is no where to be found, which means Rocky and I are battling it out over a wildly close game of Rocky-Flips-The-Cards-Over while also watching the Halftime Show.
As the Black Eyed Peas take the stage, I see the Fruits of Providence, because there is finally a reason for me to (kind of,sort of,not really) know the lyrics to all of their songs. Rocky and I jam out, throwing our hands in the air—
“Monday-Tuesday-WednesdayAndThursday-Friday-Saturday-SaturdayAndSunday-GiGiGiGiGiGi We Uh Party Everyday, WHA-WHA-WHAT- Party EVERYDAY! Yeah, I got a Feeeelin’ Woooo OOOooOOOOoo!”We are practically climbing on the tables. Rocky smiles at me:
“I liiiiiiike thiiiiiiis!”We play another round, which she lets me win, but then she stops in the middle of shuffling to look at me.
Rocky: You look like someone I seen before.
Me: Yeah? She funny looking?
Rocky: Auuuuh now, no. I didn’t get yo name?
Rocky: Well that’s pretty, why’s that your name?
Me: Uh, you know who Ralph Lauren is? I was named after him.
Rocky: Auh you’re just a funny girl—OH! You got a Man Watch on!
Me: Yeah… yeah I do.
Rocky: That there’s a man watch, you get it from a man?
Me: Uh... yeah.
Rocky: Who he be? He here? --She looks around, then starts laughing again-- You got a Man, and you got a watch! That is some GOOOOD stuff!After the game comes back on, the women start falling asleep in the chairs, slumping over with jaws dropping and chins resting on chests. We wakeful Non-Footie-Fans try to quietly switch over to Pretty Woman, which, coincidentally, seems to be the one thing able to awaken the sleepers.
“Hey—it was just startin’ to get exciting!”
“Green Bay Packers! Packers! Green Packers! PACKER BAYS!"Roots has been unconscious most of my shift, slumped across two chairs. I kneel down in front of her.
“Roots, do you want to go to bed?”She shakes herself awake, faking interest.
“Whaaaaaat’s The Scooooore?” She intones, like Dracula.Nanny, who is doing MONUMENTALLY better is swinging her legs back and forth, singing, “I wish we had some popcorn! I wish we had some popcorn! I wish we had some popcorn!” And laughs as I shake my head in defeat.
“I’m ready to gain back all that weight I lost!” She pipes out, a far cry from the frail, suicidal woman I met only two weeks ago, who had been trying to starve herself to death. She jumps up from the row of sleeping women, holding her arms out in front of her, “I’m sleepwalking!”
Rocky, meanwhile, is putting all her Unintelligible-Yelling-Skills into good use by directing it at the Super Bowl. It still doesn’t make any sense, but she is looking at the screen and timing her outbursts with the cheering on TV.
“I AM BE SURE YOU KEEP THAT GIRL IN ITS NOT UH UH, I TELL YOU! SHE THAT ONE THERE, HMMM, NOT ANY BOYS IN THERE, NO.”
We finish watching the game—with Nanny giving a loud “Whoop!” when the coach gets Gatoraded— And still manage to flip back with enough time to see Richard Gere pull up in his sexy white Limo, scale the fire escape and embrace the shoulder-padded Julia Roberts.
Nights like this, we are like a girls dorm at summer camp, bumming sticks of gum and brushing each other’s hair. No, we are the Walden’s, calling out our Goodnights from behind a ward of open and closed doors. Yeah, for an hour, maybe two, we are almost like a family.