Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Snow Hurts Mala in Rockefeller Center

UPDATE: Post-French madness, I moved to New York City to start grad school. I've been schooled in many ways thus far.

Until December 19, 2008, I have never been ice-skating...and for good reason. I knew I would inevitably hurt myself the minute my skate hit the ice. When one of my best friends, Pat, came into town for the day, and made clear his only two goals for the duration of his stay were good food and ice-skating, my brain entered fart mode and agreed to both.

After a random night of Thai food in a makeshift fish bowl restaurant (best Pad Thai and dumplings of my life, by the way) and a “finer” selection of bars in the East Village, Pat, my friend Elmas, and I dressed ourselves in our winters best, stormed the streets of New York, and watched as our faces collectively fell. The snow had quickened from a romantic dusting to an actual snowstorm. Rather than turn around out of safety for ourselves, we did what any self-respecting, educated adult would do: we started a snowball fight.

12 successful hits later, and we were soaked enough to walk to the subway and for once feel grateful of the 20 degree increase in temperature inside the station. When we finally managed to bend around screaming tourists and their whiny kids to find the rink, my internal “You’re being an idiot Geiger” hit near maximum, but I shut it off with a lot of denial and few pictures in front of a pretty statue.

I was wrong about one thing – I didn’t hurt myself as soon as I hit the ice, I waited a full 20 minutes before doing that. Admittedly, a few people confirmed that I actually did a good job skating having never gone before. Granted, many 5-year-old children were more skilled than me, but I did manage to get around the rink at least one time without help of a rail or a rail-like body (actually, no bodies at all).

Perhaps it was the unnecessary quantities of snow on the rink, perhaps overconfidence in my abilities, or the desire to impress no one in particular, but in the midst of one of my ice-skating champion moves, I came crashing down on my left leg as it bent outward in agony. For anyone who knows me, I tolerate pain well, but as I hit the ground, a small trickle of panic crept into my brain – I thought I had broken my ankle.

Thankfully, I was able to hoist myself back up on the rail, and started screaming for bloody mercy at Pat as he casually danced around the rink. He helped me over to Elmas, who slapped some sense back into my head, and got my shoes for me. One day later, and I was sure nothing had broken, but was also sure that my dreams of exercising holiday fat off had come to a crashing (har har) halt. After icing my ankle for nearly two days straight, I strapped the nearly frostbitten, sprained POS in and with a little help, hailed a cab to the bus stop for another invigorating $40 ride down to Richmond to see my parents for the week.

There are only two things I consistently do while in Virginia: break at least one piece of exercise equipment and visit every doctor possible. So in suit, after jamming a weight machine, I called for a same-day appointment on Monday to have some X-rays taken. The obviously intoxicated/irresponsibly mentally retarded receptionist picked up the phone and asked if I would be able to come in at 11:40 AM. I looked up at the clock, and replied, “Actually, no. It’s 12:05 PM.” This started the worst doctor’s appointment of my life.

Upon arrival, I was forced to fill out the slew of sheets the government finds prudent to waste at the start of any new appointment. I wanted X-rays of my ankle, so naturally, I filled out questions about my family history of heart failure, any masochistic tendencies, my history of asthma as a child, the last time I drank a Heineken, my favorite color, any dreams I had during high school, and if I were alive, who I would have voted for in the 1948 presidential election.

I returned the book of forms back to the receptionist. Five minutes later, she asked for “Marla Koomer” for I had “forgot” to write in my father’s social security number. I politely reminded the receptionist of my name, the fact that I had never seen that form, and that his SSN was right in front of her face, and I returned to my seat. 15 minutes later, after smoking a joint or something with similar effects, another office aide called me back to take even more family history. The conversation went something like this:

Her: “Who is your family doctor? You wrote doctor Jones, but she retired.”
Me: “Oh, well she was my doctor until last summer when I moved to New York. Now I see someone there, do you need her name?”
Her: “I think Dr. Valmy replaced Dr. Jones. Should I put him down?”
Me: “No, I see a doctor in New York now.”
Her: “Yes, I am positive Dr. Valmy took over.”
Me: “But I’ve never seen him, I see a doctor in New York.”
Her: “Oh I understand honey.”
Me: “Ok, my doctor in New York is Patricia Hsu.”
Her: ::blinks:: “I’m going to put down Dr. Valmy.”
Me: :defeat:

Back to the waiting room I went with my new friend, splitting headache. Finally, 40 cries from screaming baby later, I was ushered back to the…second waiting room. Ms. Mentally Incompetent, who I might add came complete with a moustache, nose hairs and boogers sticking out, looked at me and asked why I was here. “Um…I’m waiting to see a doctor, isn’t that what this place is for?” Well, I should have said that, what actually came out was a fourth office assistant saying, “OH! WELL, she is a doctor’s daughter, so she gets priority over everyone else.” Between grinding teeth, I coughed at the assistant in an effort to alert her to the fact that I was still sitting right there and that even doctor’s daughters have feelings too. I restrained myself enough from hobbling out the office, and instead took my “rightful” place in the main waiting room.

Apparently equal treatment of doctor’s daughters in this office meant worse treatment than the rest of the patients; nearly five patients who came after me were called back before me. Had the TV been turned to FOX News, I might have thrown spitballs at the office staff, but MSN kept me calm enough until the pearls of the orthopedic office decided I was ready to be seen. Ms. Mentally Incompetent asked me to take off my shoe, then looked at my ankle at proclaimed, “Well, it’s swollen, but not as bad as it could be!”

As suspected, any person in the office with any education whatsoever (the actual nurses and the doctors) were fully competent, and after a quick three X-rays and a consultation, I was waiting for Ms. Mentally Incompetent to bring back some sort of boot contraption to be fitted to my leg. In she strolled (after first walking into the wrong room) up to my leg, and displaying the most hideous and gaudy “boot” I have ever seen. Imagine a ski boot with horns, pumps, and a vague reference to “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” and you have an idea of what I was expected to wear. The fitting involved her twisting and turning my ankle in every way deemed harmful until she slid a piece of cloth over my foot, then attempted to fasten Velcro straps designed for toddlers into their rightful places. Obviously, this task was too challenging for the woman, which I used as an opportunity to explain I would not be wearing the contraption in public. A few confused, booger-filled looks from her later and I managed to escape the horrendous office in one piece. I did keep the boot; however, and promised to bring it back to New York as a demonic souvenir of my first attempt to ice skate. I can only wonder what attempt number two will bring.