My romantic evening ends up with a trip to the ER
I relaxed into the car seat and glanced over to my date. I gave him a quick smile as he zoomed us into the night air. I’d been looking forward to seeing him all week and couldn’t wait for the romantic dinner ahead of us.
That’s when I felt my phone buzz.
I ignored it, looking deeper into his eyes, sneaking a hand onto his thigh.
I playfully brushed the hair from my eyes.
I playfully brushed the hair from his eyes.
Buzzzz. Buzzzz. Buzzz!!!!
Ugh. Annoyed, I dug my phone out of the bottom of my bag and flicked through the missed calls.
My mom, my dad, my mom again, my mom again, my dad again, then my mom again. All in the last 10 minutes. This was not good.
I dialed my voicemail and was met with a panicked, “Your sister fainted and an ambulance took her to a hospital in downtown LA and a security officer called us and you need to get to the ER right now and why aren’t you answering your phone?”
Definitely not good.
While I have been known to slide into a wild panic over which dress to wear to a cocktail party, which Lean Cuisine entrée to microwave (enchiladas suizas vs. lemon pepper fish fillet is far more wrenching choice than you might imagine), or which shoes to pack for a romantic getaway, I am surprisingly cool and collected during real emergencies.
As my date glanced at me, a bit confused as to why I’d yanked my hand from his leg, I dialed my parents to determine exactly what had happened and to which hospital my sister had been taken.
Word to the wise – posing these questions calmly, without heaving sobs of grief, in an effort to obtain information clearly and efficiently may be misinterpreted by your mother as DON’T YOU CARE ABOUT YOUR POOR BABY SISTER AT ALL OR ARE YOU TOO BUSY GOING ON DATES TO EVEN WORRY ABOUT HER?!?!
In her defense, my mother was seriously freaking out. And I knew I’d be curled in a ball seriously freaking out myself in a few hours. But in that moment, I needed details, and quickly. Crying didn’t seem like the ideal form of communication. However, my mother interpreted my lack of tears as a lack of anything resembling a heart.
My parents live several bucolic states away from the madness of Los Angeles, which my sister and I call home. So they felt entirely helpless when out of the blue, a security officer called to say their youngest daughter had collapsed and was taken by ambulance to an emergency room in LA. I was their only lifeline. So they kind of expected me to, you know, go ahead and answer my goddamn phone.
My date started to pick up signs that something was amiss. The paleness of my face, the tension in my voice, the words “emergency,” “hospital,” and “yes, I really do love my sister,” might have been clues.
I believe there’s a turning point with nearly everyone you meet. Some small crisis or critical moment when they reveal their true self – either rising to the occasion, shrinking from it, or denying the whole thing like a salty politician with big hair (a.k.a. “Going Blago“).
Luckily, my date rose far and above the occasion. (Wise man – any other choice would have reaped a fury of maternal wrath.) He quickly put the car in reverse and drove straight for the hospital. He suggested I call directly to check on my sister’s status and alert the hospital that I was on my way. He remained calm and reassuring, so much so that I nearly allowed a few tears to creep down my cheek.
Not once did he show even a hint of regret that our precious dinner reservations, which had taken a full month and lots of shameless namedropping to get, were disappearing into the firmament like so much L.A. smog.
He walked me straight to the ER registration counter and instantly befriended the clerk, who guided me to my sister. She was just fine, to my great relief. Sitting up and begging to go home. But my date insisted we wait until she was examined by a doctor and cleared.
He waited with her while I ran out for a Diet Coke. He waited by himself in the hallway after a nurse helpfully snarled, “Only one visitor per patient. Make your choice.” He waited and waited and waited. Until she – and I – were both OK.
Instead of a fancy dinner, my date got a night of waiting around in a hospital emergency room. Yet after the ordeal, he still smiled and joked and invited my sister to join us for a late bite. And that, my friends – despite the torrent of tears that finally poured forth from my “heartless” little body – is what I call a happy ending.
Read Carrie’s latest blog post: “Love Notes.”