Cumberland Times-News

February 15, 2014

This wasn’t the best place to stretch out

Jim Goldsworthy, Columnist
Cumberland Times-News

— First, an apology. The opening part of our Feb. 2 discussion (“Those people had plenty to argue about”) should have read:

“Tomorrow is the 149th anniversary of a minor footnote in American history but an important date in West Virginia history. It was on Feb. 3, 1865, that slavery was abolished in the Mountain State.”

I said it was the 99th anniversary. Dummy.

Adding and subtracting and coming up with the correct answer was never one of my strong suits. It kept me from getting A’s in high school chemistry and physics instead of B’s and C’s.

It seems that I ran afoul of Goldy’s Rule 77: When you try to do too many things at once, you will do something wrong, and it will be such a simple thing that neither you nor anyone else will notice it until it is too late.

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The EMT was on the radio, saying that the patient’s vital signs were good, and he was conscious, alert and able to respond to questions and was not intoxicated.

Those were good things, I reflected, particularly since he was talking about me.

It has happened before, and I should have known better, but — as it says in Goldy’s Rule 155 — you may learn more from your mistakes than you do from doing things right.

Hopefully, I have learned my lesson. This will be reflected at the end of today’s discussion in Goldy’s Rule 157.

The nurse at the hospital asked me for a contact person, and I told her about my cousin Cyndy ... except she lives about seven hours away from Gettysburg. She’s eight days younger than I am and I’m used to listing her as next-of-kin.

“What about ME?” asked Capt. Gary.”I’m HERE!” OK, I said to the nurse. Put him down.

Gary gave her the phone number at Gettysburg Eddie’s, where all this started. He doesn’t handle hospitals very well (all things considered, I don’t blame him) and wanted to go back to watch the Super Bowl.

He asked if I minded that, which I didn’t — the bar was right around the block — and I told him to go ahead. No use in both of us missing the game. Besides, we were there for his birthday.

Me, I’m used to hospitals ... if, that is, you ever can get used to them. I also know that if you are in a good mood, that makes it far easier for the people who work in them. So I tried to be that way.

The lady asked me my marital status and I said, “Divorced ... for 40 years.”

She laughed and said, “I understand where you’re coming from.”

The doctor said the tests and EKG were normal, so I could leave. I wasn’t even intoxicated — at least two beers short of DUI level, which wasn’t bad for being in the bar for six hours.

He said what happened to me sometimes happens to other people for no apparent reason.

I was reminded of a time I thought I had a serious health problem, but the doctors found nothing that could have caused it.

People asked if it bothered me that they couldn’t find anything wrong.

I told them, “Hell, no! If they’d found something, THAT would have bothered me!”

Gary had celebrated his 50th at Gettysburg and wanted to celebrate his 60th there. So we went, not knowing that the mother of all ice storms would join us there.

My feeling has long been that ice belongs in a glass, surrounded by some form of beverage.

We didn’t get back to town until Thursday afternoon, which is why last Sunday’s column was a rerun.

We celebrated Gary’s birthday on Tuesday at Gettysburg Eddie’s, where the owner Bill and his staff are like our family — our Band of Brothers and Sisters.

There was a cake — with the candles that don’t want to blow out — and a half-yard of beer for Gary to drink. He got three birthday cards, a bunch of balloons sent by our friend Jayne in Wisconsin, who was aided and abetted in the arrangements by Paula the beertendrix, and I don’t know what all.

He was almost crying while I was lying there on that hospital gurney, but the night of his birthday he was moved to tears for a different reason. It’s good to know that you’re loved.

Best of all, our buddy Andy — who got run over by a train and lived to tell about it — has left his wheelchair and crutches behind, only seven months after he almost died.

After I got out of the hospital, I went straight back to the bar. Everybody in the place stood up and applauded for me. I felt almost like Norm Peterson on “Cheers.”

The first person to come and hug me was the off-duty EMT who came right to my side when I began to totter and passed out.

Gary grabbed me by one side, and Mark, our buddy who runs the motel where we stay, hollered “Get the @$%& out of the way!” and grabbed the the other.

I was unaware of this. Next thing I remember is looking up and being surrounded by people who wanted to know how I felt.

I said. “I’d be a lot more comfortable if I wasn’t stretched across these damn bar stools.” That got a few smiles.

“You had everybody in the place worried,” said our buddy Brian. “But you were as calm as could be.” Which I was.

I told Gary we’d had a rare gift. We had it demonstrated to both of us that people you don’t know very well, if at all, can suddenly care a great deal about you.

As for me, I already knew that going for several hours without eating while I am drinking — even if it’s not enough to get me drunk — is not a good thing.

I get lightheaded and, in this case, passed out. I’ve heard of it happening to other people.

Ironically, I was hungry and would have eaten, except that it was Super Bowl party time at Eddie’s, and the food was about to come out.

By the time I got back from the hospital, I wasn’t even hungry (when I sat down at the bar, they gave me a big glass of ice water).

The sandwich I ate didn’t go down very easily, but it go down it did — and the next morning at breakfast, I made up for lost time.

So I have now instituted what I think may be my favorite Rule of all:

Goldy’s Rule 157: Goldy eats.