Thursday night I went to a birthday party at a friends house.
I arrived late, around midnight, and as is my custom, I said brief hellos and then plopped myself down on the floor to play with the house pets- in this case a fat Corgi.
As I chatted with friends also clustered around this sweet, fat Corgi, I decided that all this dog really wanted was to be picked up by me. I put the random piece of chicken I was holding down on the coffee table and reached to grab her from behind, and what I didn’t realize was that she took that as a sign to go for the chicken. When I grabbed her (this is a dog I’m fairly close to, I don’t pick up stranger dogs), she got freaked out, barked, and turned and nipped the air behind her head…. where my face happened to be.
I was embarrassed that I made the dog bark and stood up to laugh it off when I noticed that my friends had all turned white. I put my hand my face barely in time to catch the blood that was cascading out of my chin.
“You should probably get to a bathroom” my friend said.
Of course, someone was in the bathroom, but luckily it was my husband, so I pounded on the door, mortified and just starting to feel the sizzles of pain, tears filling my eyes. I freaked him out enough that he opened the door with his pants still undone, and I shoved past him to the sink, where I beheld myself.
Her little jaws had grabbed a hunk of my face and gnashed, and now there were two gashes on my jawline from her top and bottom teeth, and between them, swelling and bruising. Blood was pouring out.
Kumail urged me to stay calm as I started tearing open cabinets looking for first aid. God bless my friends, a young couple who just moved in together, but they had NOTHING in their cabinets. No bandaids, no hydrogen peroxide, and barely toilet paper. Someone suggested I clean the wound with vodka. (I’m getting the couple a first aid kit for Christmas)
That’s when my dear friend Georgia sent someone out to get a first aid kit from their car, and she made small talk with me as we cleaned out the wound with dish soap, and then wiped it with a towelette. A huge Band-aid was produced and slapped onto my face, and after a few more minutes, breathing calm, I stepped back out into the party.
The feeling of anticipating having to be good natured and funny when you’re really embarrassed and in pain is a pretty specific feeling that should have a name.
I made rounds through the party, assured my hosts that I was okay, made jokes, got hugs, made up with the dog (who felt terrible), and heard other people’s stories about being attacked by animals. The last thing I’d ever want to do in this situation is be the girl who made a scene and disrupted everyone’s good time with her face.
After about 30 minutes of enjoying myself as much as anyone could with a monstrous Band-aid strapped to her face, I excused myself. I made it as far as the sidewalk before I burst into tears- 33% because it hurt, 33% because I was embarrassed, and 33% because it’s just damned traumatic to be hurt as a grownup. That stuff’s not supposed to happen anymore.
It’s been four days now, and the cuts are almost healed, the swelling almost completely gone, and the bruising is pretty much done. But it’ll be another year before we stop joking about how a dog took out part of my face at a party.
(Random note, this is actually the second time I’ve been bitten by a dog in my face. When I was two, I went to kiss a dog on the face and it bit through my upper lip. I have a pretty fun little scar there. Now I’ll have two!)