Everyone has at least one good story. When friends hang out around a bonfire, or talk late into the night, or cruise down the highway on a cross-country road trip, each of them has a story to tell to keep the others entertained. These stories are often funny, but they can also be sad, profound, and even hopeful; they reveal to the world something innate about each of us. Each person holds a unique collection of experiences, and each experience a person shares allows the world to better understand him or her—and often, for him or her to better understand the world.
In this column, I want to share these types of stories. Every other week, I will feature one UC Clermont student, staff, or faculty member who will share his or her “best” story. It could be something funny that happened in high school, a tale of when a mentor gave sage advice, or something that happened in one’s childhood that marked a major turning point in his or her life—anything one deems a worthy story is fair game.
To get the ball rolling, I will tell one of my own stories
Name: Tim Combes
When I was nine years old, I woke up in the middle of the night with a stomach ache. Well, actually, I was faking it. As a kid, I had a weird fear of sleeping in my own bed and so I would often come up with lame excuses to sleep in my parents’ room. My parents were out of town on this particular night, though, off leading a trip through the Grand Canyon. My aunt, grandpa, and cousins were staying with my brother and me, so I went to my aunt and asked if I could sleep on her floor.
The powers that be in the universe didn’t seem to like my lying, however, so an hour into sleeping on her floor my fake stomach ache became real. A low throb nested in my stomach for the remainder of the night, and shifted into a sharp sting on the lower right side of my abdomen by the next morning.
My aunt was reluctant to leave me, but she and the rest of my extended family had a long drive back to Illinois ahead of them and my parents were due back home that night. Besides, it wasn’t like she was leaving me alone; my seventeen-year-old brother would be with me. After some deliberation, they decided to head back to Illinois and were out the door by 9am.
I wasn’t all that worried. I was a chubby kid, and I was mostly just excited that I had an excuse to sit on the couch and watch TV all day instead of going to my peewee football game. Rather than checking out what was on Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network, I decided to continue watching what I had been for the last month or so beforehand: The Simpsons, season six.
I was totally obsessed with The Simpsons at this point in my life. Generally, I would buy a season and watch the episodes sporadically, watching whichever episode caught my interest. With season six, however, I decided I would watch them straight through. I was finally on the last disc of season 4 (this was pre-streaming so I was watching it on DVD) and I popped it into the DVD player and played the next episode up: “‘Round Springfield.”
The episode mostly focuses on Lisa’s friendship with saxophonist side-character Bleeding Gums Murphy, but starts with the inciting incident of Bart having to go to the hospital. After eating a jagged piece of metal in his Krusty-Os cereal, Bart gets a terrible stomach ache and is rushed to the hospital where he finds out he has appendicitis.
For whatever season, something just clicked in my little nine-year-old brain: This is a sign. I have appendicitis. I went to my brother with my theory, expecting him to laugh me off. Surprisingly, he believed me and we immediately hopped in his car and drove to the hospital.
We waited for far too long in the E.R. lobby, watching Nickelodeon’s short-lived show “Catscratch” on a tiny TV and trying not to make prolonged eye-contact with anyone else in the waiting room. Finally, I was called back for tests.
“So, tell me why you think you have appendicitis,” the doctor said, clutching the lab results in his hands. I told him the whole story.
“I’ve seen that episode,” he laughed. “Well, you’re right. You have appendicitis.”
I was quickly ushered into a hospital room for pre-op. I don’t remember a lot of the specifics during this time, but I do remember a few things. I remember crying while drinking a terrible tasting dye before a catscan, I remember there being a nurse who called me “her pumpkin,” and I remember our family friend Fernando bringing my brother McDonalds and staying at the hospital the rest of the night.
My appendix was expected to burst within hours. Luckily, we had caught it just in time; a ruptured appendix can be lethal if the infection spreads. There was just one problem: The doctors were not allowed to operate without parental consent, and my parents were still deep in a national park without cell service. The hospital called and called and called but was unable to reach my parent. Eventually, word of my situation was sent all the way up the chain of command to the head of the hospital, who approved me for emergency surgery.
My parents got home late that night and all was well. I ended up getting one more boring day in the hospital and then a whole week off of school. I often look back and wonder what would have happened if I had not arbitrarily decided to watch that specific episode of The Simpsons that day. Would I be alive? It seems melodramatic to say that The Simpsons saved my life, but it very well might have.
When I was nine, seventeen seemed so old to me. It was only recently that I realized just how nerve-wracking that situation must have been for my brother. I have a nine-year-old nephew now (my older sister’s son), and even at age twenty-two I can’t imagine having to take him to the E.R. by myself. My brother and I weren’t very close when this story took place, but we are now, and we often look back at this day as the moment we became close.
So that’s my story. For anyone interested in having me write their story, yours does not need to be nearly this long. It can be short and sweet. I’ll leave that entirely up to you!
If you would like to be featured, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Let’s hear your best story.