A Writer’s Bad Day…
One morning I faced a press deadline, work due in a matter of hours. An editor had given me until noon to finish an article for her magazine. At 11 a.m., I emailed the editor to tell her the article would be done and sent “shortly.” It wasn’t. Much later in the day, I had to write her another email — to apologize and explain why.
Here is my letter to the editor….
You were very polite not to ask what happened between the time I told you my article would be done “shortly” and the many hours later when it was finally turned in. In this situation, normally anything one could say just sounds like an excuse.
In my case, everything will sound exactly like an excuse.
I have hidden the truth in the following list of statements — you can discover for yourself what most likely happened. To find out the facts, you need to pick out which ONE statement below was NOT TRUE of my life today…
REMEMBER… ONLY ONE OF THESE 6 STATEMENTS IS NOT TRUE.
1. THE APARTMENT NEXT TO MINE CAUGHT FIRE…
No, really…I even have photos of the firefighters being lifted up to the balcony!
2. AS I RUSHED OUT TO OUR OWN BALCONY TO FIND OUT ABOUT THE FIRE, THE DOOR HANDLE TO THE BALCONY CAUGHT MY SHIRT — AND MY SHIRT RIPPED — not a tiny rip but a decisive TEAR that meant the shirt was totally beyond any repair.
This shirt was one of my favorite casual shirts.
My wife, witnessing this event from the balcony, dryly noted: “Good thing it wasn’t one of my favorites.”
3. AFTER SEEING THE FIRE, I DECIDED TO GET A VIDEO CAMERA TO DOCUMENT THE FIRE. I RETREATED FROM THE BALCONY, TIGHTLY CLOSING THE OFFENDING DOOR HANDLE SO IT WOULDN’T CATCH MY SHIRT A SECOND TIME.
When I had the camera in hand, I returned. Walking quickly, my head bent over to prepare the camera, deep in concentration, I looked up just in time to catch a glimpse of my wife on the balcony.
Thinking the door was still open… I WALKED FULL SPEED, BANG INTO OUR BALCONY’s FULL-LENGTH GLASS DOOR... the wife staring straight at me, slack-jawed as if a witness to a double crime. Yes, hard-to-believe but she was speechless.
In my defense, these were absolutely spotless windows. I blame my wife who is Flemish (well-known for their cleaning obsessions). She always insists on scrubbing the windows until transparently clean…
While living in Belgium, we would often sit in our house only to be disrupted by a loud bang. We would run to the dining room that had lovely wall-length, floor-to-ceiling glass patio doors.
There, high on the window glass, we would find the silhouette of wings splattered onto the previously-spotless glass… and a dead bird slumped at the bottom of the window in a pile of crushed wing feathers.
Cleanliness, as the nuns always told us, is next to godliness. In Flanders, apparently cleanliness can also bring you right next to God. Meanwhile, inside the house— on our side of the window — sat a very satisfied Belgian cat who believed he truly possessed powerful telekinetic powers that could bring down birds on command.
Here in my apartment MY OWN HEAD LEFT MARKS ON OUR BALCONY WINDOW, TWO BIG SPOTS… One round spot was the point of initial impact (top of my head, facing down, looking at the camera) and the second elongated spot, was the side of my face (as I started looking up) smashing against the glass microseconds later...
From the safety of the balcony, the wife demonstrated her concern, her protective nature. Arms crossed, with a long, hard up-down stare at the balcony’s glass doors, she noted: “Good thing that glass had double glazing.”
4. IF ONLY I HAD THE CAMERA ON AT THAT EXACT MOMENT, I MIGHT HAVE HAD AN OVERNIGHT YOUTUBE SENSATION INSTEAD OF TONIGHT’S PAINFUL INFLAMATION.
When I hit the full length glass door head-on, the power of the impact shattered my brand-new pair of eye glasses.
I had to go out and buy a new pair of frames to finish writing the article… You can see, in the photo, how even the corner of the eye glass frames was shattered.
The wife added another comment: “Too bad those glasses didn’t have double glazing.”
5. A BIG LUMP FORMED ON MY HEAD, ANOTHER BRUISE SWELLED OVER MY LEFT EYE… A MASSIVE HEADACHE ENSUED.
I couldn’t concentrate. Since this was self-inflicted damage, I decided I couldn’t have a “concussion.” This particular situation called for a new medical description.
I call it: THE “DUMBCUSSION.”
Dumbcussion, from the Latin dumbcutere (“to injure one’s head needlessly”) or the Latin dumbcussus (“action of inadvertently striking one’s head by walking into an object, i.e. telephone pole, glass doors, corners of a squash court”), is the most common type of traumatic brain injury. The terms brain injury, brain damage, smack-side-the-head, head trauma, and concussion should not be used as they do not correctly indicate the injury is overtly self-inflicted.  The experts in the field prefer “dumbcussion.” While dumbcussion refers specifically to the injury itself, the term “dumb cuss”  has been used for centuries and is still commonly used to describe the bearer of said injury. Frequently defined as “a head injury with a temporary loss of brain function particularly on a deadline day,” dumbcussion can cause a variety of physical (ouch!), cognitive (What day is it?), and emotional symptoms (particularly from the wife who couldn’t catch her breath for at least an hour afterwards. And even now whenever the very thought of this incident comes up, she can burst into the most annoying giggles).
Sample of usage: “Look at that dumb cuss who just tried to walk through a glass window. He suffered a dumbcussion.”
Sample of abusage: “Wadja-do-that-for? Are you OK? [giggle, giggle] Did you hurt yourself? [giggle, giggle] Sorry, I just can’t stop laughing. [giggle, giggle] I know it’s not funny, but that was so dumb it was funny…. [giggle, giggle]”
6. THEN THE DOG ATE MY ARTICLE.
Later that day, after having read my letter, the editor answered me by email…
That is brilliant. Obviously I feel like I should be sympathetic, but I’m with your wife on the giggling…