When Life Imitates Porn

Not to rush away from the Alys memorial post (this one and that one both being backdated - I'm actually typing a week or so later in February), but I so rarely have an anecdote worth sharing.

So, on the night Alys fell into a coma, I had just found out that I didn't make the cut for jury duty again and - having been called and rejected twice - my service was now complete. Rats, but just as well, because I wanted to be able to take Alys to the vet in the morning if she seemed uncomfortable. (She didn't, but she deserved a second opinion.) Meanwhile, I was a bit sick myself, but nothing major. All of these factors in place, I called in for a sub.

Mike, being in Australia and thus limited to Skype while being distracted with writing his daily six-page paper for an intense two-week part of course he's doing for a grad program (which requires that he travel back and forth to Australia throughout this year), didn't quite catch that I had called in.

Around 1:00 a.m. Alys slipped away from us and past the velvet rope that leads to invitation-only access to Hammie Heaven, and by now I was in an ouchie state that required the force of a leftover Tylenol 3. I already had my sub, so why not conk?

Because it was 1:30 a.m. and I felt like poo, there wasn't much I could do with little Alys, so I laid her out on tissues on the carpet, next to her hamitat. (I couldn't leave her body in there with Vanessa and Caroline. They had both, especially Caroline, been covering her up all night and fussing over her. I had to even take Caroline out for a bit because in the early stages she kept trying to rouse her mother and sometimes drag her to their main nest.) I went to sleep.

I never heard the doorbell ring 20 times. I never heard the knocking. I never heard anything until my eyes flew open as my bedroom door was being opened.

A man stood there.

"Um, hello?" I started to sit up, not processing anything, thank goodness, or I probably would've had a heart attack on the spot.

"I'm with the fire department?" the man said, and he did have that sort of look about him.

I paused. Even in my groggy but very startled state, this didn't seem to be how people were usually rescued from fires.

"Is everything okay?" I asked. (Thinking, "Oh, crap. Am I going to have to evacuate? With all these hamsters?")

"We're here because your husband hadn't heard from you in eleven hours."

What?

"Um, my husband is in Australia."

"Yeah... We know."

You can guess what happened. Mike didn't see/hear from me before I went to work. He knew my jury duty was cancelled, so why didn't I come on to Skype to say bye? That's what we do every morning, then he goes to bed right after I leave. I only wouldn't do it if I were physically unable...

All Mike could think about was how I'd been in some pain last night, restless and whimpering (it was unusually bad), and he remembered that I took a Tylenol 3 once Alys no longer needed me, but he didn't really think it through that I took the pill too late in the evening to be able to go to work the next day.

So, Mike called my work and was relieved to hear that I had a sub... but 11 hours? When normally I call eight hours a big stretch?

Mike called the property manager, Frances. He begged her to go inside and check on me, but she said she couldn't without permission... which is bizarre, since we're both on the lease and his permission has been good enough in the past to let in workers, etc. But what she could do is come around and knock and ring the doorbell, which she did to no answer. He called her back, and she suggested 911. He pointed out that he was in Australia. (Does anyone know how to call Las Vegas 911 from Australia?) She called 911 for him.

And some minutes later (the fire station is right around the corner), I had four fire department personnel standing in my bedroom - three guys and a woman. (Something for everyone's fantasy, I suppose. And yes, to answer everyone's question, they were all totally young and cute.)

The woman said, "We're going to have to ask you some questions." (I'm still sitting up in bed, looking amazed.) "What day is it?" "What year is it?" And then from the lead guy: "How many pills did you take?"

All I can say is that I'm glad, on this rare occasion, I'd gone to bed with a t-shirt and pants.

"Do you require any further medical attention?"

No, but I figured him asking that meant that I could check "yes" next to "Did you see a doctor?" on the absence forms teachers have to fill out.

Of course, the worst part was that the floor was in need of a vacuum and the kitchen countertops were messy. I reassured Mike on Skype (who thought I'd be mad, but no, just still stunned, as so many of us are when the fire department comes to the foot of the bed to wake us up) then quickly did ten minutes' worth of housework and pretended it looked that way when they came in.

I try not to dwell on whether or not they saw Alys lying in state like a tiny Lenin. (Well, our hamsters are Russian dwarves.) At least they didn't have a camera crew, which in 2012 is always a real concern. (Like the time I pulled to the highway shoulder in Austin for a flat tire, circa 1994, and a police officer, perhaps trying to look extra macho for his TV people who stood around while I shuffled laundry in my trunk to get to the spare, issued me a citation. A citation for having a flat tire.)

Alys was nicely put to rest later that day, and the school secretary laughed to hear about the firemen, which is good since every teacher knows that you never, ever, ever piss off the school secretary, and dealing with your distraught Aussie husband in the middle of a busy day might've qualified as that.

And so this was the story of the night Alys died and Mike got to look like the sweetest husband on Earth (which he is), while I got to look like some pill-poppin' dead hamster hoarder. I expect the Bob Dylan ballad will run seven, maybe eight minutes. Movie rights sold separately.

27 January 2012 |

Previously: Alys
Next: Quick-Pickled Cucumbers


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Carnival Elation (2009)
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Carnival Spirit (2011)
Carnival Splendor (2011)
Norwegian Pearl to Alaska (2012)