This entry is in the style of The Dooce. If you don't read it, you should.
So today was the day to take Precious Daughter #2 to the eye doctor. At the regular eye doctor last month, he mentioned that she had a PROBLEM with her eyes that might require minor surgery. MINOR SURGERY? Nothing is minor about taking a scapel to the eye of my 6 year old.
So an appointment was made to visit the Jules Stein Eye Center at UCLA where the 'best ophthalmologists on the West Coast' are located. After filling out a multi-page form of information that included an essay section on "Why my child deserves your help." and confirming the appointment we were ready for the examination.
Precious Daughter #2 and I climbed into the car around 8:30AM to make a 10AM appointment. It's only about 25 miles from South Pasadena to Santa Monica, but this is Los Angeles on a rainy morning. 90 minutes to go about 25 miles was just about right. As a special treat, we decided to bring the portable DVD player so that she-that-would-get-examined would be a good mood.
The traffic was predictable and using my innate ninja driving skills I wove over to Santa Monica Blvd. escaping the parking lots called freeways. Things were cool with Spy Kids on the DVD player and the street traffic flowing nicely. At about the hour mark I peeked into the rear view mirror and saw a frown.
RUH ROH. I know that look.
"Mira, you doing OK baby?"
"Dada, my tummy hurts."
"OK, drink some water. I'll pull over."
I knew it was motion sickness and the only cure is stopping the car. I flip on the turn signal, turn my head to change lanes and catch sight of Precious Daughter #2 quietly puking up breakfast over herself and the back seat.
Now, I am an experienced Dad with several car puking incidents under my belt. Action is required immediately. Daring anyone to stop me, I lay on the horn (unheard of in LA, signifying an actual incident or a New Yorker in the vicinity) and cross 2 lanes of traffic in about 20 feet to get to the curb.
I hop out of the car, get into the back seat, pick up the STILL PUKING daughter, pull her out of the car, and take her to the curb behind the car.
She pukes little more into the gutter, looks up and says "I'm OK now Daddy." Yeah. Sure you're OK. You're puking into the gutter in West Hollywood like a drunk starlet after a long night.
Fears of choking and imminent death recede and I take stock of our situation, all Macgyver-like. We are both covered in vomit, it's raining hard, we are on Santa Monica Blvd. and our appointment is in 20 minutes. Inside the car I have a half bottle of water, my jacket, and a small backpack of children's toys.
Not much. I am well and truly fucked here. Visions of cackling doctor's office worker crossing our name off the appointment list and six upset grandparents calling to know why I can't get Precious Granddaughter #2 to the eye doctor on time run through my head.
I pop the hatch into the trunk, hoping to find anything helpful. Extra clothes, baby wipes, a towel, anything useful. Nothing but a CD I was supposed to return to the store a couple months ago.
I flip up the side compartment grab the first aid kit, hoping for a miracle. The closest I get is a roll of gauze. I unroll the gauze and wipe her face free of vomit, in the process covering mine. I reach down into the gutter, where the rain water is flowing and wipe them clean. I look up to my right and into the eye of a woman in a car staring at me in disbelief. ANGER. How dare she judge me? I give her my total alpha male, I-will-hurt-you look and she drives away hurriedly.
The girl is still covered in puke and the gauze is floating down the gutter. Last resorts float into my mind, the jacket. I will clean her with my jacket. It already has some puke on it now. I mean if it worked in the muddy streets in the old days it should work now.
I go back into the car to get the jacket and spy a white thing wedged under the passenger's seat. It's a roll of PAPER TOWELS. The good kind I like, Viva. GOD BLESS MY WIFE. She put them in the car for my trip last weekend and I never took them out. SALVATION! This, THIS is the reason that men need to be married. Women are always thinking ten steps ahead and men are only thinking about when is the next chance to eat.
Armed with the bottle of water and the roll of paper towels I get to work cleaning Precious Daughter on the side of the road while she holds the toy umbrella. In a few minutes, she's washed her mouth out and I've got the major debris off of both of us.
We are still stained yellow from the puke (Thank you corn flakes.) and stinking to high heaven. We are soaking wet and 10 minutes until the appointment.
Internet, I am not a quitter. Weaker folk would have turned around and went home, but I am made of hardier stuff. I get the child back into the car and call the Eye Doctor and explain we will be a bit late due to puking and what not. All I need is a FUCKING PLAN.
Driving onward I come up with a plan. All I need is FRESH CLOTHES and I can still pull this off. I remember the scene in Pulp Fiction where Vincent and Jules get new clothes after cleaning the blood stained car and everything turns out OK. FRESH CLOTHES ARE THE KEY.
Where do I find fresh clothes at 10AM in Westwood? I scan the road like a Daddy Terminator estimating the chances of clothing in each establishment. I spy Rite-Aid, one of those pharmacy/mini-department stores and park the car. I roll down a window and tell Puke Covered Daughter to stay put and that I will be right back with new clothes. Her trusting eyes look up and she says, "Remember Daddy, size 6..."
With that advice I run in the rain toward the store. Now I tell you dear Internet, I am usually the kind of guy that fears little from public scrutiny or attention. I usually don't think it's a big deal to scream out loudly in public. But considering that I am soaking wet, covered in puke, and looking to buy clothes at a Rite-Aid, even I am a little nervous.
I blow through the door and see the manager walking by. I stop him and say in my calmest business voice, "Excuse me, where are the clothes. You know, shirts and stuff." He looks me up and down slowly and says "Aisle 16. I think..." Off I run and spot the small rack of tourist T-shirts. I grab the smallest child's shirt I can find and larger one for myself. There are no pants. Fresh shirts will have to do. The both are the touristy Los Angeles, CA shirts with flags and stuff on them. Who fucking cares, they ain't covered in puke.
I grab two large bottles of water and some chewing gum (the girl needs fresh breath don't ya know). I calmly check out, hoping the smell doesn't reach the cashier. Outside I run to the car where I find Precious Daughter #2. The baby stealers did not get her. I pull off her shirt and put the fresh one on. It fits. I unbutton my shirt on the sidewalk and change into my new one. People are walking down the street and I DON'T FUCKING CARE. Haven't you seen a man recovering from a car puking incident before? Parenting amateurs!
Back on the road toward the Eye Doctor, I enter the grounds of UCLA. The car voice navigational computer is goading me deeper and deeper into the unfamiliar campus. I finally park near where I think the office is. Nope. I call on the cell phone to find directions and hear, "Oh my, you are not even close. Keep heading south until you see the building with the white marble columns.
The rain is pouring, we have no jackets, ten or so blocks to walk, and a toy umbrella. I pick up Precious Daughter #2, position the umbrella over her head, and start marching south. THE APPOINTMENT MUST BE KEPT. After what seemed like 20 minutes, I see the 'building with the white marble columns'. I may actually succeed.
We enter the building and take the elevator to the second floor. Wet, in tourist t-shirts, and carrying a Princess Toy Umbrella we approach the front desk. "Oh, I know who you are.", she says and takes my damp paperwork. Relief. It looks like we will succeed.
Life slows down and we have time to play cards.
About a half hour later the best ophthalmologist on the West Coast enters the room and says, "Hello, nice to meet you. How are you doing?"
I reply, "I've had better days"
Epilogue: Precious Daughter #2 will be fine. She has intermittent exotropia in the right eye when looks into the distance. Wearing an eye patch on the left eye for 5 hours a day for six weeks will (hopefully) get the right eye off it's lazy ass and into action. NO SURGERY NEEDED.