As a matter of course, bloody stuff bothers me. Unless, of course, it's my own blood. In that case, I'm kind of proud. Take the time I got stabbed in the head at work. I was hugely magnanimous as I held that crappy airplane pillow to my forehead, though surprisingly those pillows are not that absorbent. All it seemed to do was rub the blood around, which did wonders for extracting sympathy from others, especially the hapless co-worker who accidentally stabbed me. Later, after I'd been much tended to by the two hot guys who comprised the emergency medical team at the airport, and I was released with my head taped shut with two fat butterfly stitches, this co-worker left a card in my mailbox with a sad-eyed little puppy on the cover. "I'm sorry for what I did," he wrote.
He shouldn't be. It's a surprising fact (probably) that people get stabbed in the head all the time on airplanes. Personally, I've sliced open a co-worker's forehead before, absolutely on accident, with the edge of a silver serving tray -- and those edges are sharp. She was bending forward, so her head was where I thought her hand would be. Instead of simply handing her the tray as I thought I was doing, I whacked her with it right above her left brow. She bled like a loser in a samurai standoff.
It would be years before I myself would get stabbed in my own personal head, so I wasn't all that versed in what to do and ended up doing what was characteristic of me at the time, which was to stand around squawking and flailing my arms like an albatross. I was useless in that instance, as I was in almost any instance in which bleeding, dying and dead things were involved, including, but not limited to, the actual airline that once actively employed me. I've been meaning to improve on that -- I can't stay a pussy forever -- but the day just keeps getting away from me.
Like here I am in Turks and Caicos, which are the weirdest-named islands I've ever experienced, except perhaps Curaçao, which is part of the Dutch Antilles and therefore explains a lot, as every word in the Dutch language sounds like someone blowing his nose with his thumb. Turks and Caicos, though, are part of the British West Indies, and they've been known to speak a passable facsimile of English in Britain, so the name remains a mystery. I'm sure if I picked up any of the brochures littered around one of the 50 huge, brand-new, blow-ass resorts on this island, I'd probably learn something about the place, but I came here to try and work. I can't be absorbing culture and shit.
I picked this island because I'd heard Lary mention it a few times as a place where he likes to mooch off his wealthy friends, so I kept it in mind. But before I could embark to this land, I had to make sure it met two important criteria: Can I fly there free and do the hotels offer an airline-employee discount?
It took a few years before both those factors finally coincided with each other. I'm not exactly certain when the airline that recently furloughed my ass began service to Turks and Caicos, as I remember tons of times when I was barreling through the concourse and noticed a gate with "Providenciales" listed as the flight destination. "Where the hell is Providenciales?" I asked myself on about 700 occasions before it finally dawned on me that Providenciales is the hub city of Turks and Caicos. If you're an Atlantic-based sky whore like me, it really helps if you have a base knowledge of all the Caribbean airport cities, because how they're listed seems to vary. Sometimes it's by the island, like St. Maarten, and sometimes it's by the three cinder-block buildings inland of the island that pass for a city, like Providenciales.
It's important, because you never know how long your airline is gonna keep flying to these destinations (or keep flying in general). It could be just a blip, just an experimental foray to see if there's business to be had in that direction, so you wanna hurry up and hop your ass in an empty seat before they A) fill up, or B) stay empty and stop going there. So far, Turks and Caicos must have proven profitable. Yesterday, I rented a scooter from someone who reminded me a lot of Lary, which is to say he looked like he'd spent the last decade living on the beach under a lean-to fashioned from palm fronds and flattened beer cans. I could tell he was reluctant to rent the scooter to me, probably sensing there was still gravel imbedded somewhere on my body from the last time I rented one, and probably sensing correctly.
"There's still blood on it from the last guy who crashed it," he grumbled, and sure enough, right there by the left brake lever was a brown streak of dried blood. As I've said before, bloody stuff usually bothers me, but I've been meaning to improve on that. There is bleeding going on all around me; my friends, my co-workers, my company, my bank account. I can't just stand around this time, useless, flailing my arms. I can't be a pussy forever.
Hollis Gillespie is the author of Confessions of a Recovering Slut and Other Love Stories and Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch: Tales from a Bad Neighborhood. Her commentaries can be heard on NPR's "All Things Considered."