"I didn't want to bleed on my new Burberry," she said.
She was wearing my raincoat.
It was almost two hours before they called us in to see a doctor. There were two other patients in the room where they took us: a woman who looked as though she had been stabbed in the ribs, and a man with bandages covering his entire head. I later found out he had fallen off his motorcycle and skidded almost fifty yards on his face. A nurse told me she'd be surprised if he didn't need skin grafts on over seventy-five percent of his body. Nothing like skin grafts to put things in perspective.
Then the doctor came in carrying a needle that must have been nine inches long. I thought I would pass out; if he had actually stuck that needle into my wife's head, it would have come out beneath her jaw. I could not say a word, even good-bye, until the doctor squeezed the top and I realized it was just a syringe filled with water to clean the cut. My relief was probably evident on my face, though no one would have noticed because when that water struck my wife's head, all eyes in the room turned to her.
All the action stopped. Even the guy who had lost half his face on I-95 turned to see where that sound had come from.
"That hurts," she said, more softly.
It wasn't long before the subject of stitches was raised. The doctor said she would need between seven and nine. Then the subject of shaving the head was raised.
"We could shave such a small area I doubt anyone would even notice," the doctor said.
Doc, meet my wife.
"There is no chance we are shaving any of my head," she said. "There has to be another option."
"There is," the doctor said hesitantly, "but it isn't as desirable. We can staple the wound. It isn't what I would advise, but it will work. You'll come back in a week and we can take the staple out."
"And I won't lose any hair?" she asked.
"You won't lose any hair."
"Then that's what I want."
I felt I had to say something. "Doctor, are you sure this is an effective medical solution to the problem?"
My wife gave me a look that said when we got home I was getting kicked in the nuts.
"It is safe and effective," the doctor said. "It's more commonly performed on the homeless and others without medical insurance, but it's not dangerous."
"We're doing it," my wife said. "Get the stapler."
And that's exactly what the doctor got. With one quick motion, he stapled my wife's head like a term paper.
She's asleep upstairs now. If you catch it at exactly the right angle, the staple gleams in the light. She'll be fine; she always is. Come to think of it, I may be giving a false and completely unfair impression of this woman. She is an intelligent and accomplished corporate executive and I am enormously proud of her. (When we were first married, she made more money than me and people asked how I handled that. I bought a BMW, that's how I handled it. All men should be cursed with a wife who makes a six-figure salary.)
And I suppose that while we're on the subject of my wife, I should tell you that shoes are her reason for being. They are her passion, her raison d'être. My wife has more shoes than Imelda Marcos. And they all look more or less alike, which I suppose is why she always has such a difficult time deciding which ones to wear.