September 18, 2000
Thin Glass

 


 
As injuries go, the cut on my right index finger isn't exactly newsworthy.

It's not very big, either: maybe the length of an eyelash, or a broken pencil lead, or a grain of uncooked rice. But the wound is deep, and it is positioned uncomfortably close to the knuckle, which makes immobilizing it impossible, and even though I've got it securely swathed in Neosporin and about a bazillion miles' worth of gauze today, I can still feel it throbbing, right through the bandage.

I'd forgotten how nasty a glass-cut can be.

Especially broken window glass.

      *      *      *      *      *      *

I wasn't deliberately trying to break the bedroom window last night ... I swear to god, I wasn't. I'd like to think that my days of dramatic, glass-related injuries are a thing of the past. (It's been three years since I fell off a chair and landed on top of a wine glass. It's been two years since I've thrown anything breakable. And once you've drunkenly put your arm through a window for dramatic effect  -- three times -- you pretty much don't want to do it again.)

All I wanted, last night, was for that big teenaged doofus to quit bouncing his stoopid basketball.

I figured that a couple of quick, sharp raps on our bedroom window -- accompanied by a stern, "Yo! People are trying to sleep in here, you big Teenaged Doofus!" -- might do the trick. It was after 10 p.m., after all. By that point David and I had been laying in our bed listening to the steady thwap thwap thwap of his basketball hitting the sidewalk, right outside our window, for more than two hours.

Enough was enough.

It hadn't been so bad while we were watching TV, earlier in the evening. Yes, we could hear him bouncing his basketball ... and yes, we could hear his little giggling gaggle of female admirers, and yes, we could smell their cigarette smoke wafting in through the open window occasionally ... and yes, it was annoying as hell ... but "Malcolm in the Middle" and "That 70's Show" sort of drowned him out. Plus it was still early, and we were in the middle of a weekend heatwave, and it was a school night ... and we figured that eventually he would get bored or distracted or tired, or his Mommy would call him in to do his homework, or his Spaulding would spring a leak, and he would move along to annoy the neighbors farther down the road. We were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

And in fact he DID go away, for a while. Right after David and I turned off the TV and kissed each other goodnight, we listened in relief as the incredibly-annoying bouncing ball and its owner (and his entourage) all headed off in another direction. Blissful silence ensued.

I began the slow, delicious slide into sleep.

But a few minutes later: there it was again. Thwap. Thwap. Thwap. The sound of a basketball determinedly dribbling its noisy, echoing way back up the sidewalk towards our apartment building, eventually coming to land again directly outside our bedroom window, just a few feet away from where we lay. With the TV turned off and the window open, the sound was now cannonball-loud.

THWAP. Sound of teenage girls giggling. THWAP. Sound of indecipherable teenage boy mutterings.THWAP. THWAP. Cigarette smoke. 

THWAPTHWAPTHWAPTHWAP.

What can I tell you? Something in me just snapped. I was hot. I was tired. I was painfully premenstrual. David had managed to escape into sleep: I figured there was no sense in disturbing him. I could handle this. So I yanked the curtains to one side, glared out the window at the idiot teenagers ... and rapped sharply on the window.  To my complete astonishment, the glass sort of bent outward for a split second ... 

... and then it simply wasn't there anymore.

I was shocked by how easily it shattered. It was like putting my hand through a layer of cheap plastic wrap. I was shocked, too, by how LOUD the sound of breaking glass can be at 10:30 p.m. on a hot summer night. Much louder than, say, a basketball bouncing on pavement.

Luckily the broken glass fell outside, onto the sidewalk, and not inside, onto the bed where David and I were laying. The idiot teenagers looked at me in surprise. They must have thought I was insane: first, this crazy woman in purple pajamas and wild eyes smashes the window with her hand ... and then she glares at them through the broken glass, saying "Quit. Bouncing. That. God. Damn. Basket. Ball."

I know I felt a little insane at that particular moment.



Grandma would probably call it "a bad patch" ... this deep dark emotional/spiritual/physical malaise I've felt, the past couple of days.

"Wow, Secra," she would say.  "Are you going through a bad patch right now or WHUT?" 

And I would be sent upstairs with a hot cup of Red Rose and a cold compress for my forehead, with instructions to lay down and nap until dinner. When I woke up, my bedroom would be late-afternoon dark and cool, and a breeze would be blowing my curtains around, and I would feel a thousand times calmer. From the kitchen I would smell my favorite dessert, bubbling in the old double-boiler with the black lid.

Grandma was a fervent believer in the healing powers of time, tea, long afternoon naps and prune dumplings.

If she were here today, Grandma would probably tell me that she's proud of the way I've been handling all of the twists and turns my life has taken lately, especially all of the Tot-related stuff. (Remind me to tell you about KACIE joining the ARMY. Sigh.) And she would be particularly proud of the fact that I'm *handling* it without any help from the nice folks at Livingston Cellars.

If she were here, Grandma would remind me that nothing solves our problems like time. And sleep, when we can get it. And perspective. 

And more time.

If she were here, Grandma would reassure me that this horrible, hormonal time of the month will pass, as it always does ... and so will the hot weather ... and so will the problems with Franz ... and so will all the rest of the shidt I've been dealing with, this past week ... and I will start to feel calm and capable and tolerant again. ("But in the meantime," she'd say, "you might want to lay off the caffeine a bit.")

And if she were here, Grandma would tell me that breaking the window last night was just a dumb accident, and that it could have happened to anybody, and aren't we glad nobody got hurt, even the idiot teenagers, and that we'll just fix the window today and solve the problem, and that will be the end of that.

Grandma sounds a lot like David, come to think of it.



 
The living room was dark and hot when I woke up, just after 5 a.m. this morning. It was like waking up in a coffin.

I hadn't expected to sleep at all. After we rinsed the blood off my hand last night, making sure I wasn't going to need stitches, I carried my pillow and blanket to the other room and made my bed on the hard little sofa. David understood: I couldn't sleep under that stoopid broken window. He took a moment to soothe and reassure me (It wasn't your fault: don't worry about it), before we kissed goodnight for the second time and reluctantly parted company. I fully expected to spend the entire night tossing and turning and watching the ceiling, but sometime shortly before midnight I drifted off and slept a mostly-dreamless sleep.

When I woke up, I felt like I was being pressed between two warm slices of bread.

I tiptoed into the bedroom, where David lay snoring, and slipped into bed next to him. The room was deliciously cool, thanks no doubt to our spontaneous new *ventilation system.*  I managed to squeeze in an extra forty minutes of snooze-time before I was obligated to get up and start getting ready for another day of work.

When David got up, I apologized again. And again. "I wasn't trying to break the window," I said. It was important to me that he know that, and that he understand that this wasn't an example of Old Dysfunctional Secra behavior. Old Dysfunctional Secra never met a window she wouldn't break if it bought her a little attention.

"I know you weren't," he replied. "It was just really thin glass." And he said he would call the landlord this afternoon, and we would have the window replaced, and that would be the end of that. Naturally, I plan to pay for it.

Later, we drove past the front of the apartment building on our way to work. I cringed visibly when I saw our poor shattered window. 

"Thin glass," David said again.

I nodded. Pretty deceptive stuff, that thin glass: it looks a lot stronger than it really is. It gives the illusion of being solid and sturdy and dependable. But if you hit it the wrong way ... it shatters.

Just like *me* this week.




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