Okay, that’s an exaggeration. But I did get in a car accident and it was definitely in Hi-Def slow-mo. More and more I’m beginning to believe in The Secret—that whatever you put out into the universe comes back to bite you in the arse like a table-turning biatch. Because as I pulled out of work that afternoon, I had no intention of going back the next day. I was going to play hooky and go Christmas shopping. I’d just sent The Feyonce a voice message, saying we should bail on the gym and eat lamb curry instead.
And then, I looked up and everything went all movie-like. There was a car barreling towards me from a side street.
“Hey man, you have a stop sign. You better stop.”
I never realized the most frightening part of a wreck is the abrupt end of whatever you’re doing. You’re going along and then suddenly you’re just not.
The wind was knocked out of me and my ears started ringing. I slumped behind my seatbelt with my head hanging, then looked up and over to the passenger seat. There was powdered sugar everywhere. I couldn’t help it… I giggled.
I’d taken homemade puppy chow to an office Christmas party and was transporting the leftovers back to my house. I may or may not have slid the saran to the side so I could pinch a few bites during the drive. But there it was, dashed into oblivion, softly crying nevermore.
I looked up from the powdered carnage and realized the other guys’ airbags had deployed. Delusions of grandeur overcame me. Oh my God, I have to save him.
My door only opened a few inches but I pushed as hard as I could and slid out onto the pavement. I stumbled around the car, staring stupidly when I realized the other vehicle was empty. I looked up to see a young guy in the street with a gash on his forehead. We stared at each other.
“Oh my God,” we both said. “Are you okay?”
A witness was on the phone with the police so I texted Alex to meet me at the intersection. Traffic was backed up in both directions and people kept telling me to sit down. My body was shaking. And covered in powdered sugar.
Alex arrived a few minutes later. He rushed over, looking concerned.
“Are you okay? You’re walking around, that’s good.”
I started dying laughing.
“I have to show you something.”
I led him over to the passenger side, to the tipped bucket of sugary delicousness.
“Look,” I pointed.
The police and fire department showed up. An EMT rushed over.
“Are you broken?”
“Well…” I said. “Not from this.”
He gave me a Jim Halpert look then walked away.
I was given a case number and the address for the tow yard. They told me I was done so I walked back to Alex’s car.
“What do we do now?” he asked.
I jubilantly declared myself a winner at life– there was no way we were going to the gym now, so we should eat lamb curry after all. He decided we needed to go home for a minute so he could calm down and I could try to stop laughing like a maniac. He reminded me about the previous night, when I’d been forced to make a left turn–my least favorite thing in the world– and how I’d been angry about it for hours.
“It ruined your entire night,” he said.
Somehow totalling my car and feeling a slow creep of pain across my body was significantly less devastating. We eventually got to the Indian place then came home to a bottle of wine. Alex started searching for my next car.
All in all it felt like a great night. I kept acting out in slow motion what I must have looked like during the wreck, and even calmed down long enough to ponder some of life’s most enduring mysteries, like “How does Nicolas Cage have an Oscar?”
The next day I felt a little less elated. Full blown self-pity was beginning to set in, but we had a Christmas party to attend. I was determined to meet this annual quota of socialization.
We wandered about the large fancy house, drinking their alcohol and trying to get into the Christmas spirit– But I was irrational, wanting to burst into tears every other minute. Someone sang “Silent Night” and it was the most tragic thing I’d ever experienced. Mercifully, Alex agreed to put me out of my misery and drove me home so I could put on a threadbare cotton dress and lay in bed watching Netflix while reminding him every five seconds that a different part of my body hurt. He didn’t need this reminder though, since I’d spent the entire day texting him photos of the bruises that were forming across my shoulder, the tops of my legs, and my knees.
He told me he was so sorry for what had happened, and I started laughing again.
“I was in a car crash. Isn’t that crazy?”
I could tell it bothered him to see me in pain, so I tried to take advantage of the situation by requesting my Christmas presents early.
“It’s the only thing that’ll make me feel better,” I insisted.
Somehow he’s managed to resist these schemes so far. He’s been quite the champ, driving me around while I wait on the insurance company to stop seeming worthless. Every so often I’ll get very quiet and he’ll ask if I’m okay. I try to answer, but for some reason I keep defaulting to a whisper.
“Babe,” he’ll say, “I can’t hear you.”
I’ll lean over and speak louder.
“I THINK I’M PSYCHOLOGICALLY DISTURBED.”
He’ll nod his head in understanding. While I giggle.
Have YOU ever been in a car accident? What sort of response do you have in a moment of panic? Do you laugh at inappropriate things?
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