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April 26, 2011

Paying the Blood Tax

The one time I offered my body for personal gain occurred while I was a missionary, naturally. Me and my walking appendage were in need of someone to teach when we ran into an older man and his walking appendage. Though the couple had been happily married for 100 years, at the time they both wore faces of concern. We asked, they told. The duo's son was in the local hospital in need of a blood donor. They were scouring the land looking for some young bodies to suck dry. We were scouring the land looking for some religious bodies to soak in water. It was a match made in Arica, Chile, which hopefully is nothing like heaven or we're all in for some major disappointment. The terms of the deal were simple: we offered blood in exchange for one lesson.

Only one problem existed -- I had never donated blood. And I didn't want my first experience to take place in a Chilean hospital, the likes of which only satisfy the "pit" part of hospital. And miraculously, I didn't have to. Turns out I had left my wallet in the apartment and without my ID I was rejected at the doors. I couldn't have my blood stolen because I was afraid of having my wallet stolen. Sometimes being paranoid pays off. My companion was not so lucky.

The Chilean occasion wasn't the only time in which fate saved me from giving up my most precious resource. An intramural playoff game, a scheduling mishap and living with a diseased roommate (not Nathan) have all been saving graces from blood donation at one time or another.

All the breaks I've caught have been heaven thrown, because the fact is I fear the needle. It all started when I witnessed my dad embedding a needle in a ball he was trying to inflate. No doctor's visit ever passed without me imagining their shots likewise getting stuck in my arm, the nurse hurrying for pliers to pluck it free as my dad did the ball while my arm slowly deflated. My aversion only deepened when having one's blood sucked became a weekly worry on episodes of Buffy.

I was taught in my youth that having your blood sucked was bad.

Then there was the one time I actually laid my guts (and blood) on the line and went to the church to donate. As my life source dripped away, I became dizzy and nearly passed out. The fact that I was wearing a pink shirt for the occasion did little to repair my bruised manhood/arm. Giving blood was not for me.

Nor was receiving blood. This fact I learned while kissing a girl whose nose started bleeding during the festivities. I don't know if the cause was my overly vigorous snogging methods (read head-butting) or if the passion of the moment was simply so great that the girl's nasal passages lost control of the situation. What I do remember is that we weren't aware of the crimson cascade until it was too late.  Red lips have never been the same to me.

Considering my previous blood experiences, it's no surprise that when the Red Cross sign up sheet was passed around some Sunday ago I began taking inventory of possible cop-outs. My first thought centered on Jerry Seinfeld (as my thoughts tend to do) and the angst he showed when he learned that Kramer had been the source of his latest blood transfusion. I can imagine a similar horror befalling the man who is told "you got three pints of Spencer in you buddy!". Surely it would be inhuman to inflict my hairy genes on an unaware soul. Then I remembered that the Red Cross probably doesn't believe in TV doctrine like I do and would find my reasoning an unacceptable means of justification.

Normally the specified slot (3 to 6) for giving would be excuse enough, as that time is usually occupied by my job. Unfortunately it just so happened that the elementary kids were on spring vacation for the week, meaning for once I caught the wrong type of break. I thought I was doomed to donate until I realized I hadn't started my taxes and if I wasn't going to do them from three to six that very Tuesday, when would I ever do them?

There's certainly no escaping taxes, I reasoned. Even animals have to pay them, according to this insightful New York Times article. I happily pondered the merits of the education credits, wondering if for once school would pay off, relishing in having both my finances and blood cells properly accounted for. I figured I would be receiving a reasonable return until a host of factors frowned upon my 1040.  It then became apparent that in my attempts to avoid the Red Cross I hadn't really escaped anything. Sure, by doing my taxes I had dodged the needle, but upon filing there was no doubt that my blood had still been sucked.


  1. The blood/kissing ordeal is one of the worst things I have ever visualized.

  2. I almost passed out my first time donating too. In fact, the experience kept me from donating for another 8 years. The second time was much, much better. The moral of the story is that someday, guilt will get you to donate again just like it did me...

    Also, that the blood kiss is the worst thing I've read today...

  3. Actually, in the interest of full disclosure, it was the opportunity to take 1 hour of my work day to not work that helped push me to donate again.