As best as I can remember, there were about five of us crowded into the small room, six if you count the guy in the hospital bed. One of the other five was me and one was The Mom, which I find almost impossible to imagine because the year was 1987 and The Mom was still a good thirteen years away from being The Mom. Further, she was four years from even being The Girlfriend. Four years from The Girlfriend, six years from The Ex-Girlfriend, eight years from The Re-Girlfriend, nine years from The On-A-Break Girlfriend, ten years from The Fiance, eleven from The Wife, and thirteen from The Mom.
The guy in the bed was still and quiet. He was awake, we knew, since he had acknowledged our group's presence with a look, but as we jostled around his bed, he neither moved nor spoke. He was a freshman in college. We were all freshmen in college. He had no skin on his back.
He had been one of many students piled into a convertible which had been driving too fast after too many drinks when the driver lost control. Most everyone was thrown from the car. Two lost their lives. Our friend lost the skin on his back when he skidded down the highway at an initial speed of 70 miles per hour.
As we shuffled around the room, one of us, a girl whose name neither The Mom nor I can recall (which makes me nervous because I don't want her pseudonym to accidentally coincide with her actual name so I'll call her Gertie because surely had her name been Gertie we would have remembered it) stubbed her toe on one of the machines that surrounded the hospital bed.
"Ow!" Gertie exclaimed, loudly.
"Shhhh!" the rest of us replied.
"But it hurts," Gertie said in a voice that I now recognize to be the only voice in which a seven-year-old can speak between the hours of 3 PM and forever.
At this, our friend in the bed opened his eyes again. Then he opened his mouth. "Pain," he croaked, "is a relative concept."
I tell this story a lot, not just because it shows how witty a guy with no back can be, but because it is so undeniably true.
Eleven years later, when The Future-Mom and I got married, we did not take a honeymoon. We were too busy, you see. The Mom was knee deep in grad school, cranking out her master's thesis on Underwater Pottery Techniques of 13th Century Half-Polynesian Tradesmen Named Joe and I was doing something equally compelling by taking night classes to get a teacher's certificate in a subject that I never proceeded to teach. We were far too busy to take time out for a honeymoon.
"Busy-ness," I hear my voice of today croaking, "is a relative concept."
And it is. With each new day, I look back on moments past and think what a total dimwit I was to believe I was busy before. Except, and here's the kicker, in one month the twins start preschool. Preschool, people, are you listening to me? Puh-ree. Suh-chool. And just like that, I will instantly become the least busy I have ever been. Ever.
Oh sweet Mary and Joseph, my nipples are hard just thinking about it.