Thursday, July 21, 2005


In Which My Luck Runs Out...

For the next few months after my accident, my life continued to be charmed. Despite a two-year long wage and promotion freeze at my job, I nevertheless managed to get a promotion and a raise. I also began traveling for work, doing stories that took me to all sorts of interesting places, including the America's Cup race, the frickin' Oscars, and, impossibly, the small Midwestern town where I had lived out my boy-detective days. Even more impossibly, the house in which my family lived there had been converted to a bed-and-breakfast, which meant that I was able to get reservations for my old room (and my job paid for all of it!).

My freelance endeavors, once such a struggle even to get into small papers and zines, was exploding. In the space of one month, I placed two stories in national magazines--a first. I also secured an extremely desirable contract from one of those magazines to be a regular contributor to a department devoted to all manner of products, gadgets and toys. Suddenly my apartment was awash in cool new things and it was my job--my job!--to play with all of it.

So it was with gratitude--but not an especially great deal of surprise--that I noticed my social life was also improving. I moved into a bigger (yet cheaper) apartment further in the city and much closer to all manner of fun and action. Her Lovely Self and I went from just palling around to being well-nigh inseparable. It wasn't an overnight thing, to be sure. Despite my new lease on life and my fresh sense of good fortune, it was still a good while before I was able to make myself quite clear on the subject of being, hopelessly, irredeemably in love with her. And even then, it took some convincing, some dramatic declarations in crowded bars and darkened apartment courtyards, some sweet and goofy gestures involving at various times flowers, U2 tickets and Victoria's Secret products.

Some thought my efforts were foolish, and there was a time where I would have agreed with them, since I had never quite believed that I was in the same league as HLS. But I was living on Earth-M now! I knew that if I just persisted, it was only a matter of time before I would, well, get lucky.

I don’t wish to bog you down with too many details--I'm sure you have plenty of things to do today--so let's just say that, eventually, HLS and I arrived at a point in the relationship that all responsible, consenting adults reach, where the thrashing and heavy breathing and surfeit of hormones suddenly give way to a "serious" conversation that resembles--in the most surreal fashion--a job interview. Before I could be considered for a certain, um, position, there was a frank discussion of previous...employers, and a brief review of my proficiency and consistency in the use equipment during prior employment (as well as the availability of same for the job at hand). In some jobs, you're required to submit to a drug screening. In this case, I was asked about a similar process, namely a blood test. Because we were children of the 80s and adults of the 90s, and because AIDS awareness campaigns were at their absolute peak at the time, this was a perfectly natural, normal part of my application for the open position I was rather avidly seeking.

But there was a slight problem: I hadn't had a blood test since college. Granted, I had been, uh, out of work for pretty much all of that time, except for the rare and brief, er, freelance assignment here and there (you know what? This analogy is totally breaking down for me).

It could have been an awkward moment. But you forget--I was living on Earth-M now! As we were talking, I remembered something: only a month before, the bloodmobile had come to our office and both Her Lovely Self and I had signed up to donate. At the time, I distinctly remembered signing a document that acknowledged and gave permission for the blood bank to screen my blood for all pathogens and communicable diseases. Surely if there had been a problem, they would have contacted me by now. Especially me. My blood type is O negative, the universal donor, and that year in Chicago, it was in dangerously short supply. I was told at the time my blood would probably be marked for expedited processing and could be inside somebody else by the end of the week (and so, I hoped, would I).

Well, as luck would have it--and here on Earth-M, what else would luck have?--this bit of news was good enough for Her Lovely Self, and so our relationship entered a new and rather vigorous phase.


Oh sorry, my mind was wandering there for a second.

Yessir, life was just about as good as it could get for this 23-year-old. Granted, work was getting to be a bit of a pain, asswise, having as it did a tendency to bite into my freelance hours, my commuting time to favorite bars, and the frustrating process of passing Her Lovely Self every day in the hall without actually being able to do anything about it. At least til after 5, when everyone else left.

And so my lucky life continued apace until one morning in early summer, when I returned home. I was barely at my swell new apartment these days, often racing back at dawn from HLS' place over in Wrigleyville and staying at my own digs just long enough to sprinkle hot water on myself, void my bowels, and find a clean shirt before heading off to work. Oh, and collect my mail, which I did now. Stuck to the outside of my box were a couple of slips from FEDEX and UPS--more products to test. But here in my mailbox was a slip I hadn't seen in some time: a pale yellow card from the post office, informing me that a certified letter awaited me at the local sub-station which, alas, did not open til 8:00.

As I showered, I wondered what it could be. Ever since I started freelancing, I used an accountant to do my taxes (and worth every penny she was), and she sent me my tax returns by certified mail, but April 15 had long come and gone. I went down the mental list of editors I now worked with as a freelancer, but none of them would send a contract or payment by certified mail. It was too expensive and too big a hassle. People only used certified mail if it was urgent, sensitive information...

Naw, you can't be thinking this has to do with the blood bank, I thought, thinking this had to do with the blood bank. And yet...

Clad in a towel, dripping water the length of my apartment, I slid across the floor to my wallet, where I found my blood donor card and the number of the blood bank, as well as their hours--7 to 4. It was 7:30 so I called and got a very pleasant woman on the phone.

"So," I said, trying to sound all casual against the backdrop of a rising apprehension. "You guys really do screen all blood for diseases. AIDS and hepatitis and herpes and what-not, right?"

"Oh yes. We have to," she said.

"And if there was a problem-- I mean, let's just say you found something. You'd notify the person, wouldn't you? I mean, you'd call them right away?"

"Oh absolutely we notify donors as soon as we can if there's a problem," she said gravely.

I breathed a sigh of relief. Oh thank God. Earth-M, baby! I’m living on Earth-M!

"But we don't call. We usually notify people by certified mail," she continued.

That's when I dropped the phone. And my towel...

So your constant spider sense tingling didn't tip you off to the radioactive blood.

Sorry, but this is one cliff hanger I'm not subscribing to.
Holy shit! You learn someting new every day. this is awesome!

Its okay to laugh people. i'm on the friggin floor.

And my guess is: you got the clap from that crazy chick who drove you off the road that time.

Whoop. Mom's here. like you want her to see this...

Yr. Brother
seriously, movie of the week material

Jaclyn Smith, circa Charlie's Angels as HLS

Bruce Greenwood as MM

it will make millions ....
The movie 'Big' comes to mind with the job description. You are sooooo Tom Hanks! (That's a compliment).

I absolutely love how you still get flustered at remembering your courtship. Yes, it's that obvious.

Don't you dare think, for one second, that your faithful readers are going to let you get off without relating the vivid details(which your writing has become notorious for) of your wooing HLS.

We want the details. We want to hear about all the sweet, goofy, embarrassing things you did to win her over. Not to pry. Not to embarrass you. But to give hope to the rest of us hopeless romantics. Who knows, you might even inspire some young man to go for the girl he thinks is out of his league.

I have to say - HLS rocks. I had the same interview with a former boyfriend. Sad as it may be, a blood test and monogamy are a prerequisite for intimacy today. Waiting for said results is extremely stressful, even if you know you have nothing to worry about.

It certainly doesn't help when your future partner tells you he wants to jump off a bridge upon seeing his results. Of course, he's thinking this is a funny practical joke to play. I should have dumped him right then and there.

I can totally relate to your anxiety.
Ooooooo! Ooooo! Ooooooo! I have a guess! If I'm right about what's in the letter, can I tell the rest of the class?


waving her hand wildly in the air...
I'm loving this series! Earth-M is good, but Earth-MM, as I've now started thinking of my time spent at this blog, is even better. :)
"I was told at the time my blood would probably be marked for expedited processing and could be inside somebody else by the end of the week (and so, I hoped, would I)."

*groan* Oh, that was just bad! And once again, loving your brothers comments.
In response to your wolf spider story, how do you get 23 bites and NOT know it? I'm going to have nightmares now, thanks for pointing that one out to me! ;-)
OK - I'm just going to go ahead and :::guess::: because I can't stand it.

I think...

... that the certified letter was from THE INSURANCE COMPANY.

I think they wanted some of their money back, (after they realized that they had paid twice on the same car) and this leaves our hero MM, living in his earth-m, as penniless and pitiful, (for a while) but with the added advantage of HLS at his side.

So, I am right?

T :)
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