Yesterday afternoon, as I drove to pick up my children from school, I came across an old lady laying in the middle of the road.
Now, these are the sorts of things that happen to me regularly, in case you are wondering. If there is chaos, if there is mayhem to be stumbled upon, if a catastrophe is brewing, it will find me or I will find it—I have a sort of radar for for all things bizarre.
So, I was unsurprised, when as I am just trying to get to the pick up line on time, that I notice a white haired figure laying in the street in the neighboorhood near the school. I could see her red walker, a sort of go and scoot kind of contraption, flipped precariously on one wheel nearby. I could see a half open purse teetering from the ledge of the walker, ready to spill it’s contents on to the gravel. And there were two teenage boys standing haphazardly over her, appearing like they had just run over someone’s grandma, which from the looks of it, they had. It was really, quite the scene.
I slowed my mini-van, turned down my Snoop Dog and rolled the passenger window down. “Do you need help?” I asked them, which in retrospective was both really quite stupid and incredibly unnecessary. Of course they fucking needed help. They were standing next to an old lady who had her face buried in the gravel.
The one boy slowly nodded his head in sort of circular confusion, but the other one, a skinny kid with a long shaggy mullet and a Minecraft t-shirt, started waving his hands wildly. It seemed to me in that moment that this motion was both the universal sign of “Thank God, someone’s mom is here to save us” and “
Man Down, Old Lady Down, May Day, May DAY!”.
So I manoeuvred my van around the scene into the grass and jumped out into the road. I realize that there was a crisis at hand and this is going to sound vain, but I was, immediately, very concerned about my appearance. It was not what I WAS wearing (yesterday’s yoga pants and a t-shirt bearing the face of Mister Rogers), but rather what I was NOT wearing (a bra) that had me feeling… uncomfortable. While my yoga pants could present me, reasonably and falsely, as someone who had just come from the gym (as opposed to the truth, which was that I had just come from a nap), my t-shirt was covered in three shades of cat hair, donut crumbs and shattered dreams. The bizarre combination of my forgotten bra and my large, drooping busom created an odd mound underneath the screen printed image of Mister Rogers head. I love you and you’re special, Mister Rogers seemed to say with his eyes. And I have nipples poking out of my neck.
This was hardly the ensemble of any super hero, and yet here I was, fucking ready to save someone’s grandma from getting run over by a school bus.
“What happened?” I asked the two boys suspiciously, as I tried to cross my arms over Mister Rogers lumpy face.
“We pulled up and saw her go down!” Minecraft Kid chirped frantically.
I eyed him suspiciously. “You pulled up and…”
“Then we saw her go down!” he squeaked again. I was no Magnum PI here, but this kid was clearly not going to shake from his story.
“We were driving down the road…” The tall kid with the bangs offered his version. “And then she just went down.”
“I just fell down.” The lady with her head in the gravel offered in a slurred voice.
Either the three of them were corroborating here or clearly….she just fell down.
“If you could just lift me up and hand me my walker, I’ll just go home.” The lady on the ground shouted, with more confidence than was befitting a woman laying flat on the concrete at 3:22 pm on a Wednesday afternoon. She had to be in her late 80’s.
And drunk. She had to be drunk. This would never happen on Mister Roger’s Neighborhood. Grandma would never fucking be drunk in front of Prince Tuesday or Daniel Tiger. NO. Just. No.
Minecraft kid reached down to gently guide one of her shoulders off the ground and the lady rallied a little into a sitting position. She wobbled a bit and then promptly slumped over again. Forgetting my low slung busom, I knelt down and tried to shield her fall.
“Just prop me up near my walker.” She said. “I won’t be doing this again today. No. No, I won’t.” Today? She won’t be doing this again TODAY? From my place next to her on the concrete, I could hear her burping into the gravel.
“Um. I think we have to call an ambulance.” I told her gently, looking up at the boys who were attempting not to make eye contact with me or Mister Rogers. With much effort, the lady on the ground rolled over to her side, revealing an entire exposed back filled with liver spots. The teens gasped audibly and each took one giant step back. Between my bust, which unholstered, resembled two oranges in tube socks and this old lady’s back, we were providing these youth with what seemed to be their first glimpses of the female body. (In related news, both boys have taken since vows of chastity).
It was, an unfortunate view of humanity. But, just like when the days of Make Believe have come to an end, the innocence of youth also has to die sometime. And die, it did, that afternoon for these boys.
I reached out to pull the lady’s shirt down. “We have to call an ambulance, I’m so sorry.” I said to her kindly. I really was sorry. I put my hand on her shoulder and sat still beside her.
So Minecraft Kid called the police and we sat, an unlikely quartet far away from the Neighborhood of Make Believe, waiting for the ambulance to come.
When they came, it took two grown men to lift her up and into the ambulance, she was still wobbling. One of them folded up her scooter and placed it in the ambulance beside her. “I went to the…er…bank. I was just going too fast.” She said from her place on the gurney. She started hiccuping loudly. “Tomorrow I will …hiccup…go slower.”
Tomorrow? My two new teenage friends and I exchanged glances.
After spending 20 minutes on the pavement with these fellows, I felt like we could read each others minds. We had been through an ordeal together, and we had all survived—now we weren’t just neighbors, we were practically family (if you had a family that was inappropriately close and had a grandma who drank too much).
I could tell what those boys were thinking as they stood on the neighborhood street and watched the ambulance doors slam shut. They were thinking: We are never, ever driving this way home from school again.
And from the way their eyes widened in horror as I reached down to pick up my keys and my nipples scraped the pavement, I could see these fine young men approved of the internal vow that I also made as we said our farewells.
Tomorrow I wear a bra.
And with our ordeal over, and a quick wink from Mister Rogers, Drunk Grandma, the teenage boys and I parted ways.
Until tomorrow, neighbors! I thought about calling out to them. But they all seemed in a hurry to get the hell out of there, so instead I just got into my mini-van and turned back up my Snoop Dog.
And then, as though nothing had happened, Mister Rogers and I drove to pick the kids up from school.