Katie told me about this Facebook friend of hers who was in a car wreck years ago. Every year on the anniversary of the wreck he posts the story, including photos.
I don’t have all the gory, yes gory, details, but the incident occurred on a highway. Something happened with a trailer that was in traffic ahead of the storyteller and a passenger, resulting in a long hunk of metal lodging in the storyteller and a passenger. Emergency medical techs had to cut the piece of metal apart before pulling the 2 from the car.
They both lived.
The storyteller posted pictures from the emergency room of his back with a huge gray piece of metal coming out of it. He had to have his spleen removed and spent 10 days in the hospital.
At about this point in the story I made to leave the room. I told my wife, with as much laughter as I could muster, that she had to shut up. She was planning to continue with more details but I had to stop, especially after that photo, goddamn.
She responded that I watch gory movies. Which is a good point. I can watch all kind of mayhem in movies, and I can read horror stories till the vampire cows come home. I told her that I can handle that because it’s fiction. When a movie actor lobs an ax into another actor’s head, in a movie, or stabs another actor with a huge antique candlestick, in a movie, I feel pretty certain that no real violence was done, the whole thing is a setup, no harm no foul.
But tell me the story of someone’s serious illness, or gruesome injury, meant to be believed. I’ll go pasty and weak. And it’s the telling mind you, not the actuality. When I’ve witnessed injuries, blood or not, I’ve been fine. When I myself get sick or hurt, I’m fairly stoic. But tell me the story and I am a pitiful audience.
I approach reading about atrocities or ridiculous opinions and assertions in a peculiar manner, I might try a smiliar trick with tales of injury and disease. It’s complicated so follow along:
I tell myself it’s a put-on.
To get through the entire narrative I step back and take an ironic stance. Afterward I tell myself that it was all true and so continue to maintain, hopefully, a fairly accurate sense of what, at least, was intended to be believed and what wasn’t.
It works for the most part, if I’m prepared. If something is sprung on me I may not react as I might like. But if I read, listen to, or watch something I find distasteful, and I dial it up myself or otherwise see it coming, I do OK. So I’m like a zen master but not a ninja, or maybe just an inconsistent bullshitter. But if the bullshit works…