If the events of the following story are a little fuzzy, please bear in mind that this all happened last year. OK, 4 days ago, but you know what I mean.
As usual, blame can be assigned elsewhere, in this case, on Santa Claus, who brought the third-grader-in-chief a “US State Quarter Collection” booklet, complete with some of the quarters already inserted. We get home from the second leg of the aforementioned round the world (by which I mean 5 states within reasonable proximity of one another) holiday tour, and nothing will do but that I empty my coin jar for her immediate inspection, with the purpose of “liberating” any coins that I have and she needs. (One could say, “Like mother, like daughter,” but one knows that one’s wife reads one’s blog.)
This plan being set quickly in motion, we are joined by the 5-yr-old Reigning Queen of Pink, Duchess of Fluff, and High Protector of Barbies, who, upon finding what we are about demands that she, too, be allowed to liberate a quarter “and a penny.” She is allowed (by which I mean, one does not argue with those who rule by divine right) to extract her $0.26 tithe, and she goes on her way.
About half an hour later (which puts us at about 7:30 pm, for those keeping track of time), the same Reigning Queen of Pink, Duchess of Fluff, and High Protector of Barbies returns to announce that she has, in fact, accidentally swallowed her penny, by accident. “I put it in my mouth, and I didn’t mean to swallow it, but then I did.” She still had the quarter, which to my mind would have hurt a lot more in either direction, so at least there was only one coin in the colonbank to worry about.
A quick check revealed an interesting factoid: The degree to which “my lunatic kid just swallowed a penny” is a problem is entirely based on the mint date. Pennies minted before 1982 are 95 per cent copper and 5 per cent zinc and are pretty much benign – you just wait them out. However, those minted after 1982, which are nearly all zinc with a thin copper plating, can react with your stomach acid like a car battery and erode the stomach lining, causing an ulcer. Ouch.
Well, you wouldn’t imagine that anyone who rules her Barbies by divine right would settle for anything less than a very shiny penny from 2007, do you? Right, I noticed the mint date as she took it. A call to the after-hours doctor-on-call confirmed that yes, I was going to the ER with her tonight. We waited until the Spouse Of a Big Ugly Man Doll (known henceforth, and by request, as SOBUMD) returned from shopping, and hit the roads for the local all-night bonesetters.
Walking in, the fun starts. I’m certain the staff assumed I’m separated from SOBUMD.
Staff: “What’s her birthday?”
BUMD: “Umm, August 20-something. What’s your birthday, kid?”
Duchess of Fluff: “August!”
Staff: “OK, I’ll try to look that up on our system… Is she allergic to any medications?”
Staff: “Right… I’ll try to look that up, too…”
And so on, until we got to the triage nurse, who could well have passed for a Big Ugly Man Doll himself except for the nurse’s outfit and the gentle, caring demeanor, which just goes to show you can’t judge a book, et&. Or, maybe you can:
Nurse: “Did you really swallow a penny?”
Duchess of Fluff: “I accidentally swallowed the penny on accident.”
Nurse: “Well, if you poop a quarter, keep on swallowing pennies!”
Thanks, pal. First off, I don’t want her to get the idea that this trick should be repeated. Second, while what he was describing is actually a 2,367 percent return on investment when annualized over 12 months, allowing for a maximum safe turnaround time (so to speak) of 4 days, and without consideration for the time value of money, it’s still a net loss of $36,013.36. The total take is $86.64, and each ER deductible is a cool C-Note. Now, if we can get her to swallow copper and shit platinum, I’m buying a sieve.
Finally, we’re dismissed to wait our turn in the Shared Infection Area. This is where I found out that even the High Protector of Barbies can be pretty open-minded. We were sitting right next to a small boy, maybe a little older than Her Pinkness, who was there with two men both around my age-ish, one of them perhaps 7-10 years older than I. It is worth noting at this point in our tale that the reason all of her comments above are in bold pink is because she feels strongly that anything worth saying in public is worth saying really loud. She looks over at the little boy and his entourage, looks at me, points, and yells, “Look daddy, that little boy has two daddies!”
She now has the full and undivided attention of the 24 people waiting with us in the Shared Infection Area, the 4 staffers checking people in, the aforementioned triage nurse, Tom the barman, the day maid, the night maid, the cook, that bloke who couldn’t fix the toilet, and that wizard from Belgium. I, of course, knowing that pretty much everyone was going to listen to my response, and knowing that, as mentioned, one does not argue with those who rule by divine right, smiled as best I could while staring at just that spot that is precisely nowhere close to anyone’s actual eyeballs no matter how crowded the room, and opted for, “Ah, well, could be, kiddo.”
And with no prompting, she cheerfully announces, “That’s so cool!” and goes back to whatever it was she had been doing. Suddenly, the coughing and general noisy malaise returns to the Shared Infection Area, and the staff find their jobs interesting again.
As usual, NO ONE speaks to the Big Ugly Man Doll. I’m very proud of my little open minded Queen of Pink!
We got out with a picture of her insides, complete with coin, and pack of crayons someone tithed to her in exchange for a moment’s quiet. We got home around 11:30, which is not bad for an ER trip, I’m told.
The penny? Still a penny, either somewhere in a septic tank in West Virginia or on its slow rolling way to the Chesapeake Bay.
Money: The root of all evil, and not just for breakfast anymore.