For those of you who are too young to remember, or for those of you who posses degenerate minds, the title is a Redd Foxx reference, nothing more.
So on Thursday night, for reasons that escape me, I decided to work an overtime shift, rather than stay home, watch TV and eat yodels, which is what I should have done. The shift was uneventful for the most part, but around 5am, I ate my meal which consisted of a granny smith apple and a pre-made fruit cup of pineapples, strawberries and kiwi. I’ve never had kiwi before. To tell you the truth, it didn’t have much of a taste at all, so I’ll probably never have it again. But I felt really good about my decision to make a healthy food choice rather than the usual half-pound of salami-ham combo that I have a 5am.
I came home psyched because I was (am) off friday night in anticipation of a wedding I have to attend on Saturday (Blog item sure to follow). My plan was to get home, sleep four or five hours, then hit the gym for an invigorating middle-age workout. Then I was going to shower and hit the town for an evening of carousing and mayhem. Of course at some point I would have realized that it was 38 degrees and I was 47 years old, but it’s nice to fantasize once in a while, no?
Anyway, I got home, fired up the PC to count the number of books that didn’t get sold, and sat down to a feast of a PB&J breakfast of champions… Chunky Skippy and 12 grain bread.
About 30 minutes later, the grumbling started. A tiny burning sensation right below my rib cage, where the esophagus meets the stomach. I ignored it of course, being Irish, that’s what we do, and headed to bed, cats in tow.
At 2 pm, which the cats still in place on either side of my legs, I woke up with a small lizard trying to claw its way out of my chest cavity. I slipped out of bed, trying not to disturb the precious felines, and crawled to the kitchen in search of some relief. Of course, there are no tums or alka-seltzer or milk of magnesia or mylanta in the house, so my only recourse was to drink a shot of diet soda and then do 15 jumping jacks…
No, I’m not lying.
Of course this did not work, but at the time it seemed like a good idea.
Option 2, was to head out to the store to purchase some over the counter antidote. As the pain was starting to increase, I decided to dispense with all convention and hit the streets quickly.
Here is the ensemble. PJ bottoms, white socks, black loafers, powder blue hoodie. In retrospect, I wish I had taken a picture, but alas…
I raced to the store and back, trying to avoid all eye contact. Not sure if I succeeded. I took the alka-seltzer first. Downed it, went back to bed. Cats were not happy about the intrusion.
10 minutes later, I’m in the kitchen, trying desperately to open the tiny Zantac package while trying to read if you’re supposed to chew it or just swallow. Under the best of circumstances, I might have been able to read it with a magnifying glass. I decided to chew it. Not the best decision either.
Back to bed. The pain is coming in waves now. Each time, it gets a little hotter.
The option of calling someone is starting to enter my head. Then, on the next wave, I’m debating whether to just skip the friend call and go right to the 911 call. I hesitate for several reasons, 1. I’m going to have to tell my friends at some point, since secrets of this kind are not allowed. 2. I’m going to have to tell the 911 operator that I need an ambulance for a tummy ache. Not sure if I can do this with a straight face. 3. I know that the attending physician is going to ask me how severe the pain is. Now this is a completely subjective answer.
I got stabbed as a teenager. That’s a 10 on the pain scale. Trust me. So I can’t call this a 10.
I broke a toe once running to answer the phone during the 2000 World Series. Clemens had just thrown the bat at Piazza and my dear ol dad was calling to discuss it. As I answer the phone, he can hear that I’m in distress.
“Whats the matter?” He asks.
“I think I just broke my foot.” I reply.
“Well, it won’t affect your speed at all, you were never fast.”
This is the type of humor that I spent my whole life listening to. I miss it every day. But that pain was an 8 for like 10 seconds. Then it dropped to a 3. I didn’t go to the hospital, lest I miss the rest of the game. Turns out I just cracked the bone attached to my pinky toe. Two nights later I went to Game 4 of the WS in one of those funny shoes. I’m from Brooklyn. I’m a tough guy.
At this point I determine that my pain is a 7. I can handle it. Except on the next wave, it hits an 8. Now I’m sweating. I’m up out of bed again, debating the phone call. Lake and Holdman will never let me live it down. I can’t do it. I start to press my fingers into my stomach in the hopes of dislodging something. I get a tiny burp. The next wave drops back down to a 7. I head back to bed.
The male cat, Mackie, senses my duress. He climbs on my chest and curls up. I fall asleep before the next wave comes.
When I wake, it’s dark. The cats are still with me. I can just make out the numbers. It’s 8:57. I crawl out of bed to let the world know that I’m alive. No one knows that I was missing. No one knows how close to deaths door I was.
I head to the kitchen for a bowl of chicken noodle and a coke. The pain has subsided, but there is still a grumbling in my stomach and the muscles in my back ache from being so tense for hours. I guess that’s my workout for today.
As I wait for the soup to heat up, I realize that the old axiom is true: There are no atheists in foxholes, because I was praying to every god I ever heard of just for a decent fart. That prayer went unanswered by the way.
I think about what I would have done if it were a real emergency. What if the pain were in my chest or my left arm? Would I have tried to tough that out? I think back to hurricane Sandy. My old man lived a block from the beach when he was alive. Would he have stayed? The Irish are a stubborn people. I’m Irish and Italian. Stubborn on both sides.
As I eat my soup, I check the book sales for the day. Nada. I slap myself in the forehead. I shoulda called 911. Think of what that would have done for book sales if it got out that I was dying.
Maybe next time.