Some years ago I was boarding at a private home where the sons of the owner were two rowdy boys of about 20 and 25 (John). So one hot weekend day, John came to visit – knocking on my door. He wanted a drinking buddy, so not wanting to disappoint him; I joined him on the back deck. We sat in lawn chairs with our shirts off drinking beer and soaking up the sun. After a half a dozen beer each, John jumped up and announced that he had something for me to check out and said he would be right back. Sure enough. Back he came with a five foot long sword, razor-sharp on both edges. He collected swords and had just acquired this one which looked very real and he was proud of it. He handed it to me, hilt first and sat back in his lawn chair.
I examined the sword and praised his taste, truly amazed at its authentic look. I passed it to him, again hilt first, being very careful with the super sharp edges. He checked it over briefly, then standing, he held the hilt with two fingers and dropped it point first into the wooden deck. There was a thunk and it sunk into the wood about 2 inches – very impressive. He sat back down it a grin and we watched as the sword quivered for a few minutes, then became still standing vertical between the two chairs. I admired this stance for a few minutes and then had the desire to look at it again up close, I asked if that was OK and he agreed. So, remaining in my chair I grabbed the hilt and pulled – nothing, it didn’t budge. So I started to wiggle it back and forth in line with the sword edges. After a few minutes, it popped out of the wood but I only had one hand on the hilt and it pivoted towards John. His arm elbow was protruding slightly over the chair arm and the sword blade hit it edge first, clean on. He let out a yelp and pulled his arm in to examine it. Because the elbow was still bent at 90 degrees, the skin was stretched and there was a gaping but clean-cut about 1 1/2 inches long and. about an inch deep and gaping about 3/4 inch wide. It was a beautiful cut and there was very little blood and we were looking at the fat tissue below the skin- it appeared like tapioca, except whiter. Neither of us was feeling any pain, cut or not.
After an examination, John stated: “This needs stitches; you’ll have to drive me to emergency.” I objected and said I had had too much to drink. I proposed a taxi, but neither of us had any money. John then said: “You’ll have to stitch it yourself.” I was flabbergasted, not having had any training at all. We discussed what would be needed and my biggest concern was infection. We decided to do this inside and he got the supplies we needed and met me at the kitchen table. We filled a Pyrex brownie pan with rubbing alcohol. I threw in a few lengths of thread that I figured were long enough – pink thread to match his skin tones, of course, we had to b fashion aware — and a sewing needle. I set his elbow in the pan as well and splashed alcohol up his arm while rinsing my hands thoroughly. Then I threaded the needle and started. I figured we needed two stitches so I left the appropriate spacing. I kept saying to John: “This is going to hurt, this is going to hurt” He eventually told me to shut up.
Pushing the needle though his skin using a sewing needle was very difficult and I felt like the dull end was going to pierce my thumb, I was pushing so hard. I used very pretty butterfly stitches, like I had seen doctors do when stitching me up upon occasion. Eventually we got ‘er done and it looked very good. I had pulled the stitches so the two sides were touching each other without any ridge. We put a breathing bandage over it and went our separate ways after I had washed it with alcohol one more time.
The next day I was sitting outside when John drove in the driveway. He walked over and I passed him a beer as he sat down. I snuck a look at the wound, as the bandage had been removed. I asked how it was going and he confessed that he had gone to visit his sister who was an emergency doc at the local hospital. She had examined the wound and declared it well taken care of. She also demanded to know who had stitched it. John originally told her that he had stitched it himself, but that was so obviously not possible that she pounded on him verbally until he confessed it was me. I was pleased as this would give me a chance to think up an excuse – as his sister, Joan was very authoritarian and we called her The General. At only about 5’2″ and less than 100 pounds, she attacked everything and everyone in sight – there was no hiding from her.
Then John said that he felt he should have a “real” doc look at it so he went to the clinic. (His sister was likely more qualified and experienced than many docs from working in emergency but you know how it goes – family is always suspect.). When it came time for him to see the doctor, the doc examined the stitching and asked who had done it. Knowing now that he couldn’t come up with a good lie, he confessed that a non-medical friend had done it. Then the doc did an odd thing: he stood up and opened the office door and shouted down the hallway: “Ladies come and see this!” Four nurses appeared and the doc showed them the stitching. Expecting to be chastised, John was surprised when the Doc said:” This young man and his friend are going to put us out of business!” The nurses Oohed and Aahed over the stitching and them left. John asked the Doc when he should come back to have the stitches removed. The Doc said: “They should be taken out in about 10 days, but you don’t have to come here. Your friend who put them in can easily take them out, so just go see him when they are ready.” At this he told John he was free to go and John wandered out of the office, surprised by the Doc’s response.
I listened to the story and we were discussing it when another car pulled up – The General. Oh My God, it was too late to flee as the driveway was between my current seat and the entrance to my unit – I was trapped. The General got out of the car and marched right over until she was in my face. She stared at me for a minute and said: “That was an excellent job stitching.” I was rattled as The General seldom if ever gave praise. Then she continued: “If you ever fucking do that again, I’m going to come over here and take a piece out of you – DO YOU FUCKING UNDERSTAND?!?!.” the General could be a bit foul mouthed when she was upset. I just nodded in fear and she said “God!” and went into the house too see her Mom.