I was able to people-watch for about seven hours before I was finally ushered to a room where I was able to people-listen for another two.
The first seven hours were a grand waltz of people coming and going, ailing from various illnesses, breaks, and a number of other things that I can’t really explain. For example, one woman wandered around the waiting room for about an hour hunched over and moaning. She couldn’t have been more than 35 or 40 years old, but she was a bedraggled middle-ager. At one point in her journey, she approached to ask me if she could buy a cigarette, saying that it would help with her pain. I told her I didn’t smoke. She gave somewhat of a ratchety moan and then kept on. Now what on earth gave her the impression that I was a smoker, except perhaps she smelled something burning – maybe the kindled rage that began to surface right around the four hour mark.
Once I was finally in a room is when the real fun began.
First, you need to know that each of the ER rooms is separated from the others by a curtain and nothing more. Everything you say is heard by everyone else around you. It seems rather unfair that only the folks within a 100 feet radius get to hear the details of what is supposed to be a private consultation. They really should install microphones into each of the spaces so that everyone in the hospital can hear. I guarantee can almost guarantee that would empty the waiting room and seven hours would turn into seven minutes.
Second, while there are a multitude of precise questions asked by the doctors in that first interview, all of which are designed to locate the reason for the visit, there are two questions in particular that are asked of everyone: Do you drink? Do you smoke?
And so, here’s something of what I heard across the hall from my cloth enclosure…
“So, I hear you’re not feeling well?” the doctor asked politely. “What seems to be the trouble?”
“I’m having trouble breathing,” the woman said, “and I feel dizzy a lot, like I’m going to pass out.”
“How long has this been going on?” the doctor pried.
“I don’t know,” she said exhaustedly. “For a while now. But it’s been getting worse.”
After a few questions about her medical history, the doctor asked the two questions.
“Do you smoke?”
“Yes,” she said and coughed.
“About how much do you smoke?”
“Oh, not much. Maybe a pack a day.”
There was a pause.
“Do you drink?”
“Yes, but only every now and then,” she continued to strain.
“How much would you say?”
“I don’t know. I only drink when Phil brings over a case.”
“How often does Phil bring over a case of beer?”
“Maybe once a week,” she said plainly.
“Once a week?!” The doctor was astounded. “You drink a case of beer every week?”
“Yeah, but it’s usually in a weekend. I don’t drink beer during the week.”
“Do you drink anything else during the week?”
“I drink Diet Pepsi pretty much,” she added.
“Do you drink anything else?” I could hear the doctor scribbling in his notepad.
“I drink my coffee.”
“Do you drink any water?”
“Well, there’s water in coffee, right?” she answered with a tinge of snide.
“What’s your diet look like?”
“I’m not on a diet,” she said and coughed.
“No, I mean, what do you usually eat during the week?” he questioned. “What does a regular meal look like for you?”
The woman’s daughter was there with her, and so she pushed for her mom to answer.
“Go on, woman,” she pressed. Tell ‘im what you eat all day long.”
“I eat just fine,” the mother defended.
Before the doctor could ask the question again, the daughter let loose, “She eats ice cream and Twinkies. That’s it. Ice cream and Twinkies all day long. She smokes a pack a day, drinks beer all weekend, and eats nothing but chocolate swirl and Twinkies.”
“Well,” the doctor started but was immediately interrupted.
“She’s dyin’ isn’t she?” the daughter asked bluntly. “This ol’ woman’s just plain ol’ dyin’.”
The doctor tried to speak again, but the daughter turned her attention to mom and kept going, “And when you pass on, you best not be leavin’ nothin’ to Phil. He don’t care nothin’ for you, that dirty ol’ man. He’s just takin’ your money and takin’ yer life.”
At this point in the conversation, I left what was becoming more like purgatory than a hospital room and went in search of a bathroom. I didn’t have to go. I just needed to get away and find a place where I could close a door and either laugh, cry, or pray out loud. I chose the latter. It wasn’t something I could’ve accomplished silently in the midst of the contentious but strangely humorous/horrible discussion happening only 10 feet away. And so there in the bathroom, I sat on the toilet seat and prayed for the woman, the family, and for Phil the enabler. Then I laughed. But it was more like a chuckle.
Let this story serve as a lesson, however, for those among you considering the Wild Turkey American Honey. Essentially it’s a cheap bit of booze and sweets, and that’s it. And I’d be willing to bet that some guy named Phil came up with the idea for this stuff because his girlfriend was complaining that a case of Miller Genuine Draft was getting too expensive.
The nose is nothing but candy. There’s barely anything in the wafting to give the slightest indication that this yellowish liqueur is anything but something like a syrupy pour of yellow #5 and sugar, which I believe are essential ingredients to Twinkies.
The palate confirms the syrupy goo. The honey is there, but it’s too much. I took a total of three sips before I dumped it, and after each sip I whispered to myself, “Why am I doing this? Oh, yeah. So the reader doesn’t have to.” There’s a little bit of whiskey in there, a minimal bourbon sour, to let you know that this particular Twinkie will indeed intoxicate you.
The finish is…well…I don’t know. Ask the drain in my kitchen sink. I drank some water pretty much right after the third sip. But I suppose that if I had to revisit the terrible moment in my mind, I guess I’d say it was medium, but in the sense that it was like someone dipped a paint brush into a vat of melted Bit-O-Honey candy and then painted it onto my tongue, and then the sip of water caused it to cool so that I could scrape it off with a butter knife.
In the end, if your diet consists of ice cream and Twinkies, you’ll probably love this stuff. Everyone else should probably just walk on by.
As far as my trip to the ER, it wasn’t a total bust. I finally convinced the doctor to install a port into my arm, which I thought might come in handy for doing a quick saline flush of my innards after consuming some crappy stuff like this Wild Turkey American Honey.