My Breaking Bad injury, or why good writing is dangerous

I’m prone to two things: becoming completely absorbed in great stories, and injuring myself in stupid ways.

The column I wrote yesterday for Dear Reader explains how, as a grown woman, I hurt myself playing kick the can. And a few years back, I broke my ankle at the gym when I fell off an elliptical trainer. Grace and coordination look at me from afar, and laugh.

But until Sunday night, I thought I would be safe sitting on my sofa watching television.

The Husband and I have been binge-watching Breaking Bad, the show about an Albuquerque chemistry teacher who, diagnosed with lung cancer, starts cooking methamphetamine to provide for his family after he dies. Yeah, that’s how it starts. But anybody who’s watched more than a few episodes knows that Walter White’s tale swells into a gut-twisting epic of Shakespearean proportions. Hell, last week’s episode was titled “Ozymandias,” after the poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley. That allusion is chillingly apt. (“…On the pedestal these words appear: ‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’ Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away.”)

The show also features standoffs, murder plots, betrayals, explosions, poisonings, and occasional gunfire. It is, as they say, hella tense.

Yeah. Last night I learned that when you wave your arms wildly while watching a particularly suspenseful episode, crying, “Something bad’s gonna happen, something bad’s gonna happen…” something bad does happen. I waved my arms so effusively that I jabbed myself in the eye.

Yes, I scratched my cornea by gesticulating like a crazy person and screaming at my television: “Hank! Walt! Jesse! Look out!” And yes, explaining that to the emergency room nurse was embarrassing.

Here are words I never expected to hear about myself while waiting in an ER at 12:30 am: “Which room is the Breaking Bad woman?”

On the bright side: I got a tetanus booster. And if I promise to put socks on my hands while watching Breaking Bad from now on, they won’t make me wear a satellite cone around my neck.

The episode that caused me to suffer the self-inflicted TV injury was “To’hajiilee.” If you haven’t seen it yet, stick your hands in your pockets when you watch. If I can save just one person from jabby hand syndrome, it’ll be worth it.

As for any writers out there: Look on the works of Breaking Bad, ye authors, and aspire.

17 responses to “My Breaking Bad injury, or why good writing is dangerous

  1. haha. oh dear, please be careful. Breaking Bad definitely has that affect on people.

    Now to blow

  2. Thanks for my morning laugh. That video is too funny.

  3. Jabby Hand Syndrome. Oh Meg, Meg, you’ve named a new condition and now you can become famous. (Oh wait, you already are.) You can deliver papers on it (at symposia, not door to door).

  4. I’m on the last episode of season one — after two days of making my way through episodes 1-5. Thank you for the warning. I was already in the eye surgeon’s office today, and this stream-fest is how I was recovering… God knows I don’t need to go back with self-inflicted wounds. Just in case, where can I get one of those cones?

  5. I now have access (via iTunes to the final half of season 5). I shall now wait until I have access to all of the episodes, and then binge, while wearing sockhands, and scream!

  6. Hilarious, Meg. “How tasteful!” 🙂 Love the hospital staff comment about the “Breaking Bad woman.” Yes, these final episodes of BB are over-the-top tense. Kudos to Vince Gilligan and his writers for a most enjoyable, addicting ride with such terrific characters, exploring the nuances of moral equivocation and turpitude among ordinary folks, as well as treating us to some truly creepy, bad-ass villains. (Trivia: Vince Gilligan commented in an interview that “Ozymandias” was one of his favorite poems studied in high school.)

  7. Okay, you officially beat my husband. He managed to break his ankle while standing in line for some hamburgers. Of course, he was wearing roller skates at the time. And this was the same ankle he broke the year before when he walked into a ditch. He’s not allowed near skates or ditches anymore! 🙂

  8. Hang on. I’m on the phone with Neil Patrick Harris. I’m pretty sure we can get that as an Emmy Award category for next year…

  9. Thanks for your concern, all. I’m squinting and sore, but seem to be on the mend.

    Until the series finale, maybe.

  10. Pingback: When a character has to go | lying for a living

  11. My son and I are also marathoning Breaking Bad. I could never get past that first episode. It just didn’t grab me. I’ve seen it 3 times and that was it. So, when my son said, “Mom, you have to sit down and watch this show with me.” I informed him that we would have to start with Episode 2 of the first season or it was over. It worked. We are now on Episode 6 of Season 3 and i am loving it. And I totally understand the anxiety. I’ve told him many times, “This is the last episode for now, I can’t take anymore.”

    So far, I have not hurt myself. I am sorry about your eye. Possible Spoiler of Season 2 or 3:

    Maybe you are having some psychic connection to the eye Walt fished out of his pool filter from the plane crash.

  12. And Meg, maybe you can answer this for me. I can’t STAND Skylar. I just loathe her, but why? She has every right to be pissed. She has every right to feel betrayed and hurt. But, when she starts with that face she gets and that attitude, I really want to smack her.

    Walt is a bad guy. He did wrong things for the right reasons–at first. And even when he continues to do very bad things, I see his reasoning behind it. I supported Dexter too.

    How are these authors making me cheer for the bad guy?

    • And… I finally found this question (now that my eye is better) and answered it in a new post. Sorry it took me a few years!

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  14. Pingback: How do authors get readers to cheer for the bad guy? | lying for a living

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