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 and his 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 and the other hand bleeding profusely.
I had scuffed my hands rappelling down a cliff. Yes, some worthy rocks were found during that foray, but the incurred arm and hand injuries led me to suspect that my skill set for that particular activity had atrophied (a very wordy way to admit "I am too old for this shit").
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 that bloody leak down.
But this was not one of my smarter moments.
So the blood dripped over the handle of my shopping cart, and 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 and ripped the paper in half, 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 so eager to bleed.
So there I was, pressing a piece of lined notebook 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, and giving a smug smile, 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 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.
"You bet your wrinkled ass, I do." But I just think it and try hard 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. I decide to reject my shame.
"It's nothing," I announce, "must have brushed against a sharp part of the cart."
The oldest cashier swivels her grey locks and a 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 my apparently 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 and 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 tells me. 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 her teeth, brighter than those on 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?"
After a moment he says "Oh yeah!" and treats me to a view of his bruised, hemorrhaged arm.
Nice, I think, being old just doesn't get any better than this.
I try hard to remember how to open my car door and watch an obviously traumatized teen retreating back to the store.
I really do love my wife and at that moment wanted nothing so much as to return to her and rejoin our polite ability to ignore the effects of aging.
And I resolve henceforth to always carry Band-Aids in my wallet--a place once hopefully reserved for condoms.
But it is what it is.
And, you know what? I like it.
Tucson, Arizona, June 18th 2017.