I did a favor today. I didn't want to do it, but I did it because I kind of got trapped into it. As I bitched to Beth about it she asked why I was doing it if I was going to bitch about it. To have something to bitch about, I said.
It was for my sister-in-law Karan. She hurt her leg, she's been flat on her back in bed for days, she can't move, can I take her to the doctor.
Some backstory is in order. First it's important to know that Karan is a Drama Queen with a capital DQ. I capitalized Drama Queen as I wrote it, then pointed out that it should be capitalized in order to emphasize just what a Drama Queen she is, and now I've written Drama Queen three more times because saying it just once doesn't emphasize it enough. You think I'm over-emphasizing? I'm not. She is. She's what? A Drama Queen.
Karan's life is a never ending drama. Constant tumult and turmoil. Much anguish and recriminations. Injustice and insensitivity abound. And that's just before breakfast. She's the kind of person who, if she finds out you're having a disagreement with someone, even someone she doesn't know, will somehow find a way to make herself a part of it, an integral part of it, the central part of it, nay, the star of it. And once she does, she'll somehow twist it around so that everybody's against her, even the person she doesn't know. Don't believe me? Think I'm exaggerating? A quote from one of her siblings: "She installs herself as the central figure in other people's dramas."
Secondly, it's important to know that I begrudge people asking me for favors. It's not so much that I don't want to help people, it's that it really bugs me when people ask for help when they don't really need it. If you really need help I'm all over it with a smile on my face, but if you've dragged me out of the house to do something you damn well could have done yourself, well, I'm apt to be a little pissy.
Me, I'm loathe to ask people for help. I'd sooner ride the bus or take a taxi than ask someone for a ride. If a raging pitbull tears my left leg off and I'm bleeding to death in the middle of the street, the most I might ask you for is to borrow your belt so I can tie my own tourniquet. I prefer to do for myself and I think other people should, too.
So when Karan asked me to drive her to the doctor, I was not entirely pleased. I tried to logic my way out of it. "What's wrong with your truck? Are your legs broken? Are you paralyzed?" Logic vs Karan? Ha! She's going to the doctor because she hurt her leg, she's in such agony that she can't walk, and she can't even think about driving. So basically the truck's fine but, yes, her leg is damn near broken and she might as well be paralyzed. Drama.
I steeled myself for drama of epic proportions and drove downtown to pick her up. When I arrived I called from the security phone and she said, in a voice dripping with misery, she'd be out in a minute. Five minutes later...
Karan lives on the fourth floor of a building that does have elevators. Nonetheless she chose to hobble her way down the stairs, groaning in agony every step of the way but refusing any sort of help. I could see it was a difficult choice for her -- leaning on me would have been appropriately dramatic, but the visual impact of hanging off the handrail won out.
Once in the truck she moaned and groaned and gasped and oohed and ahhed her way across town. Honestly, it sounded like porn was happening in my passenger seat. I bit my tongue, laboring mightily to keep from snapping "Okay, it hurts. I get the picture already," and instead tried to seem concerned. I asked probing questions aimed an discerning exactly what the problem was. Is it your knee? Your hip? Your ankle? Straight answers were not forthcoming. The most precise she would get was to admit that, yes, she was in pain, and quite a lot of it. With the occasional yelp for emphasis.
Lest you think I'm a complete asshole, I should break away for a moment to tell you that this was exactly the performance I'd been expecting. You never know with Karan; she'll carry on like this for a hangnail or a hanging...and not necessarily hers in either case. Everything is over the top, so there is no scale against which to judge her, save for that of skepticism.
As I dropped her off at the building entrance -- she couldn't possibly have walked across the parking lot -- Karan either forgot herself or experienced a brief remission and hopped right out of the truck as though nothing was wrong. She quickly caught herself, fortunately -- or was struck lame again, unfortunately -- and resumed her dramatic limp a few steps later.
This confirmed my suspicion that she was, per usual, being dramatic, and was perfectly capable of driving herself and thus not wasting half my day, and so I spent the next five minutes fuming as I circled and circled the parking lot, looking for an open space. When I finally rejoined her at the entrance she threw herself on me in tears of pain, the better to cover her momentary lapse of lameness, not to mention offering a performance for the building's audience. It was all I could do not to fling her off me as we hobbled in.
I managed not to snap throughout the rest of my time with her, even as she made such a spectacle in the waiting room that they took her in early, even though she wailed so much in the pharmacy that people were edging away, even as she resumed the porn soundtrack on the ride home, even as she began slurring and feigning drowsiness five minutes after taking the Vicodin the doctor gave her. I managed to be pleasant and helpful as I completed my duties, even though I wanted to kill her.
Ultimately the diagnosis was a herniated disc in her back. Maybe. They'll know more after an MRI next week. Did it hurt? I'll bet it did, but you'll never convince me it hurt enough to warrant her performance or that she couldn't have driven herself. I remain as sure now as I was when she first called that Karan didn't really need my help; she was just cranking up the drama. But I'm a nice guy...sometimes...and I never let on that I wasn't buying it as I put up with her all afternoon.
But I did aim for every pothole I could find.