Monday, September 10, 2007

Sunday morning I spent too long bleeding in the back of a bus. In fact, I'm certain it was the longest spree of back-of-the-bus bleeding I've ever been involved with.
There was a blood drive at the temple and I had nothing better to do after sticking Gwynyth in religious school.
Apparently, I was the first to arrive at the blood bus, because they immediately pulled up my information in the computer and started checking my ID and vital signs.
My iron levels? Spot on.
My blood pressure? Consistent with meditative Tibetan monks and long-term coma patients.
My complexion? Flawless.
I got locked in the little room built into the bus to complete the secret questionnaire - Those questions too embarrassing to ask aloud but which everyone must address before their blood goes into . . . circulation.
Any overseas trips? IV drug use? Recent tattoos? Vaccinations in the past two weeks? Ever been paid for sex? Any homosexual encounters between 1975 and 1982? Contact with animals who may have passed through central Africa in the past six weeks?
I am so very, very boring. I console myself with my ability to give blood.
As the needle went into my arm, my friend Todd sat in the chair across the bus from me.
"Race you!" he joked. However, I don't take any competition (no matter how stupid and pointless) as a joke.
"It's on!" I began to frantically squeeze the little foam basketball. Instead of every three seconds, I stepped it up to every two-and-a-half.
Still, Todd pulled into the lead. Even with my 90 second head start, his blood packet continued to fill at an almost unnatural rate, easily surpassing my futile trickle.
The phlebotomists laughed at us, though it was not a mocking laugh or even a particularly amused laugh. It was the laugh of people who have actually seen bleeding races before often enough that there is no challenge in choosing sides.
Either way, Todd was up and out the door with a bottled water while I was still pressing gauze to my elbow pit and holding my arm up like the Statue of Liberty.
I had been defeated and lost a pint of blood in the process.
Also, when I pulled off the arm band later that afternoon I noticed a weird H-shaped bruise disfiguring my formerly elbow-model quality elbow pit and more blood, fresh blood, continued to leak from the wound. It was as if my body was still trying to bleed our way to victory hours later. While I admire the effort, that's gross.
"Second place is fine" I spoke in a soothing voice to my elbow while pressing a paper towel into the bruised area. I guess, even though I don't believe that second place is just fine at all, that my elbow took some comfort and began to finally clot like the champion it is.
My elbow and I began to plot our eventual re-match with Todd.
Next time we will be better prepared. We intend to raise our internal pressure by drinking at least a gallon of water beforehand. Actually, I'll be drinking it but my elbow will do most of the lifting. We further intend that this water will also serve to wash down an almost criminal amount of aspirin to thin the blood and help with the pain of a new and (now expected) weird H-shaped bruise.
Also, we will not rely on the weak squeeze of a foam basketball. I'll bring my own tennis ball with finger grooves worn into it from constant prep squeezes from the hours and hours of training I plan to do.
There was, at one time, a pretty firm list of things I do well. This list used to include bleeding.
I need to step this up. Apparently, I'm losing my edge.

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