Definition of janked :. (jăngkt) 1. (v.) The state of being beaten up, drunk, or in any way not of sound mind. Often describing something with a decisively negative connotation. 2. (adj.) Describing something as stupid or dumb. Often with a decisively negative connotation.
“Janked” is, and has for some time, been my favorite word. I use it often, to the dismay of my son who apparently wishes for a mother whose syntax more closely resembles that of Donna Reed to that of Kim Basinger in “Eight Mile.” I tell him fairly often that it is a highly useful descriptor, and that some things really are “janked.” Yesterday, for example, could serve as a third definition
The day began with a trip to see my doctor. I adore her; she is my age, smart, funny, and eminently sensible. None of this mitigated in any way the fact that my recent blood tests indicated a combination of blood sugar and cholesterol high enough to make the richest of pastries. As it turned out, the blood sugar thing was a fluke – I had swigged a gigantic glass of soda before heading out for a “fasting” blood draw, believing that it was Diet Sierra Mist. It was, in fact, the real deal, practically bursting with corn syrup and leading to my embarrassingly candied blood. What we could not laugh away was the cholesterol, mine by birthright and eating habits. I am old, I am collecting an assortment of pill bottles resembling that of an ancient crone, and I can no longer pretend that I am in the fair blush of youth. Arriving home from the doctor’s office, I fought the nearly irresistible urge to eat a pound of bacon (so there, arterial plaque!) and took a phone call from my father. My mother was not well, and needed someone to sit with her while he went to a doctor’s appointment of his own. When I got to their house it was clear that she was wretchedly sick, and somewhat confused. With my father’s permission I called her primary physician’s office and spoke with a lovely human being who was willing to work around HPPA with me to the extent that she could tell me that if the patient was a woman who fit the exact profile of my mother, that hypothetical person might well be dehydrated, at the least, and should be taken to the Emergency Room for evaluation and care. Not unfamiliar with this drill, Dad and I worked as a team; he talked her into leaving her comfortable bed and going back to the world of sterility and invasion, and I helped her get dressed and into the car. This process took, literally, hours, and by the time I watched them drive off to the hospital, lump in my throat and theologically muddled prayers for protection in my heart, it was time to pick Sam up from school.
Waiting in front of the school, watching the last long-legged, bright-mittened stragglers hauling saxophones and book bags as they trudged across the tundra, my cell phone rang. “Mrs. Nichols?” said a vaguely familiar voice. “This is Mr. X, Sam’s algebra teacher? I have him here in the office, waiting to see the assistant principal.” First I thought about the fact that I had never had a chance to put on any makeup, having been engaged in someone or other’s medical issues since leaving the house at 9:00. I had, possibly, the faint residue of black eyeliner on my upper lids and a few odd clumps of mascara, giving me the air of an aging prostitute with rather poor access to soap and water. He was still talking. “…made a rather strange comment. That’s what I’m really concerned about, here.” “What sort of comment? To you, or to another student?” He hesitated. “Well, not really either. Can I tell you what it was? I guess I can tell you what it was. You’re his parent.” I waited, faintly hopeful that this session of Guess the Infraction was coming to a close. “He said something about hurting himself.” This was not what I had expected. I know, of COURSE I know that many parents are oblivious to their children’s true mental state, particularly as they enter adolescence, but I am close to Sam, and could not imagine that the blithe spirit who thumps up and down the stairs singing Eminem songs off-key was harboring suicidal thoughts. But what if I’d read it all wrong? What if I was a terrible parent? The weight of the day, my increased physical dilapidation, my mother’s perpetual illness and despair, and my son’s possible secret misery brought swift, hot tears to my eyes.
“Well, I guess we need to talk about that” I submitted lamely.
“Oh I don’t think he meant it,” came the jovial, avuncular response. “I think he meant it as a joke. The thing is, you know, in my position as a teacher I can’t just ignore things like that. I’ll bring him out and remand him to you, if that’s okay.” Sam was successfully “remanded,” I made him apologize, and there was much helpless shrugging and smiling all around. It was weird. After we were in the car with the door closed, I sprung.
“What in God’s name were you-“
“I was kidding! He asked if we all understood this one thing, and I raised my hand and said I wasn’t sure, and he asked if there were other people who didn’t get it, and there were, so he said maybe we needed a little homework after all, to practice. So then I said ‘great, I’m going to kill myself now.’ You say stuff like that all the time.” He closed with a rhetorical flourish worthy of William F. Buckley. “You’re right,” I said, “I do. You have to understand the position he’s in, though.”
“I do. Can we go to Walgreen’s?” We could. I needed chocolate.
Later that evening, after chocolate, a restless nap and a faint return of my usual joie de vivre, I walked, barefoot into my office to check my e-mail. Feeling something clinging to the bottom of my right foot, I reflexively dragged it across the top of my left foot to scrape it off. There was a moment of shocking agony, and I looked down to see a crimson line across my white flesh, already letting go enough of my (very fatty) blood to puddle on the hardwood. I had found the broken piece of glass from the beaker I broke.
Still later, after the cleaning and bandaging of the foot, the cleaning of the floor, the cursing of God and the phone call from the hospital to say that my mother was resting comfortably, but would have to be admitted, I decided the Day of the Jank-all was well and truly over. If I went to bed right then, barring natural disaster or untimely death, I would awaken the next day and start over.
This morning, the basement drain filled with raw sewage, and even our super-long snake couldn’t reach the obstruction. The plumber is here now, he can’t give us an estimate probably because the company’s liability policy doesn’t cover the deaths of customers who faint, hit their heads in their own basements and drown in sewage. My mother has called to ask why I haven’t been in to the hospital yet. My son has texted to ask if I can pick up a Little Caesar’s pizza and take it in at lunchtime.
I am thinking of a new word now, one that may resonate with everyone who is living life on a daily basis: Rejanked.