Blood is illuminating.
And it was running down my left hand and over my wedding ring.
The ring glowed a sparkling red. Pretty sight, really, as I considered Shakespeare's Macbeth, a blood-drenched crown...
Thankfully my mind (what is left of it) whiplashed me back to the real stuff. I stood behind a shopping cart in our local rip-off coastal market, a wife-written grocery list in one hand while the other bled profusely.
I scuffed my hands rappelling down a cliff. Though I had found some worthy rocks, the arm and hand injuries incurred led me to suspect that my skill set for this particular activity had atrophied (a wordy way to say "I am now too old for this").
Now I was paying the price.
Let's be real here. I was bleeding like a mofo.
What to do?
Well, the smart thing would be to cruise down the medical aisle, open a package of way too expensive band aids, and clamp the bloody leak down.
But this was not one of my smarter moments.
So as blood dripped over the handle of my shopping cart, I did what any manly man would do. I utilized resources at hand like my old hero, MacGyver. I outsourced the blank half of my wife's shopping list, ripping the paper in half and applying pressure to the wound.
Honestly, I'm not a hemophiliac and don't gobble blood thinners. But growing older (and not too much wiser), I've discovered my skin has taken on the qualities of tissue paper, easily ripped--and eager to bleed.
So there I was, pressing a piece of lined paper against my wound, pretending to contemplate the beer section. Corona or Sam Adams, equally expensive twelve packs. What to do?
And a geezer comes up behind me. By "geezer" I mean someone at least 5 years beyond my 64. He admires the bloody piece of paper plastered against my hand, gives a smug smile, and passes on. I think dark thoughts, "Hey, I may be old but I can still coagulate!"
So I finish off my wife's list (the part not drenched to obscurity by the blood running down my hand).
Time to check out.
It went well.
I'm about to "slide de card" when the same old man, who has doggedly followed me to the cashier, announces to the whole damn store:
"EXCUSE ME, DO YOU KNOW YOU ARE BLEEDING?'
Time stands still.
"F-ing, yes," I say to myself, trying to ignore the old bird behind me.
Meanwhile, checker folks to the left and right stop checking. Everyone looks--not at me--but at my hand and the bloody handle of my shopping cart.
"It's nothing," I announce, "must have brushed against a sharp part of the cart."
The oldest cashier swivels her grey locks and shriveled head toward me, "This happened while you were here, in our store?".
"Maybe, not sure, but it's okay. Hey, when can I press the debit button?"
And it WAS okay for a while. Then the elderly contemporary cashier says,
"There are sanitary wipes two aisles down by the exit," using a tone that emphatically said, "Get The Hell Out you AIDS-ridden, BLEEDING OLD MAN!"
"Yes, I know where the wipes are and I will certainly take care of this cart before I leave."
I depart now accompanied by the sweetest, cutest, most chirpy high school girl I could ever have imagined in my prurient past.
"Don't worry about it. I'll take care of it," she says. I'm so grateful that I want to squeeze her non-titties.
And as we approach the wipe down station I tell her, "No, I'll take care of it. I made this mess," and proceed to wipe down the bloody handle, smiling back at teeth brighter than my first birthday.
"Everybody is so worried about AIDS these days," I tell her, as if this is normal small talk with Bambi supermarket girls, "No reason you should have do this."
I continue mopping up the morbid mess and vow henceforth to eliminate the morning aspirin, a blood thinner supposedly preventing strokes and keep me from becoming more the feeb I already am.
I allow Miss USA teenager to roll my cart to the back of my car. But before she could escape, it got worse.
The concerned geezer at the check stand had tailed me to the parking lot. As my teen helper was unloading the groceries, he came up to my face.
"What part of the cart caused your bleeding?"
Was this guy a retired accident lawyer?
I recoiled from his prehistoric breath and replied with utmost wit, "What?"
(What I wanted to do right then was swivel him around and inflict two death-dealing blows to his ancient kidneys).
Instead I answered with my best version of de truth, whatever that is.
"Well you know how it is when you're old, right? Just a small touch on our non-elastic skin and we start bleeding like a fire hydrant, right?"
"Oh yeah!" he says after a moment and enthusiastically treats me to a view of his bruised, hemorrhaged arm.
Nice, I think, being old just doesn't get any better than this.
Eventually, I remember how to open my car door and watch the obviously traumatized teen retreat back to the store.
I really do love my wife and at the moment was very anxious to get back to where we enjoy our mutual ability to ignore the effects of aging.
And I resolve henceforth to always carry band- aids in my wallet. A place where I used to hopefully carry condoms.
But now "it is what it is".
Tucson, Arizona, June 14th 2017.