For a few minutes, I thought I was going to receive my inheritance, but before I tell you THAT story let me tell you this one:
When my beloved mother was still alive she and my father were watching their favorite soap opera, As The Stomach Turns or some such nonsense. She had made my father a nice chicken sandwich, and he was sitting there simultaneously eating his food and complaining about how stupid the characters were on the show.
“Don't talk while you're eating,” my mother told him, mainly because she had served him poultry, not seafood. (SEE food. Get it?)
My father was offended.
“I'm not talking while I'm...”
All of a sudden, he started choking on a piece of chicken.
“I warned you not to talk while you're eating,” my mother scolded him, thinking it wasn't as serious as it was.
My father made no reply. His eyes were starting to bulge. He couldn’t breathe. Air was going neither in nor out. A chunk of chicken wedged in your windpipe will do that.
He grabbed his throat with both hands in the international sign of choking, although I'm sure he did it more by accident than by rational thought. Who can be rational when they're in the middle of choking to death?
My mother started to panic, and in her panic she grabbed the TV remote. She was going to turn the TV off, the noise was too distracting. That's when my father angrily made the international sign of You'd Better Not Turn Off The TV!
He finally coughed out whatever had gotten stuck, took a few breaths of oxygen... and then started eating his chicken sandwich again.
When my mother told me this story, I turned to my father and asked him why he got so angry with her for trying to turn off the TV set.
“If I was gonna die,” he explained, “I wanted to die watching TV.”
Well, he had his reasons, I guess.
My father and I were having dinner. He was sitting in his favorite chair at the head of the table (MY chair. At least, it used to be.). I was eating at the kitchen island. The older my father gets, the more noises he seems to make when he's eating, and it kind of grosses me out. Smack! Slurp! Ack! I try to ignore it. Smack! Sometimes I can. Sluuurp! Sometimes I can't. Ack!
I looked over at my father who was eating with great enthusiasm. He usually does. He was really packing that food away. I can't blame him. My wife's a good cook. In fact, she's a great cook. I wanted to tell her that myself, but she wasn’t there. She left to meet a few of her friends for a Zumba exercise class, whatever that is. She doesn't invite me, because she knows I would girl-watch more than I would Zumba. I don't know why she thinks she needs to take that class, however.
“You look fine,” I tell her.
“I'm fat,” she tells me back.
“You're not fat.”
“I need to lose weight.”
“You don't need to lose weight.”
“Yes, I do.”
“No, you don't.”
“Yes, I do.”
And on it goes.
Truthfully, she doesn't need to lose weight. She's done a fine job of staying fit all these years, better than I have, but even if she did lose weight what good does that do me? Being married to her is like owning a Ferrari I can only drive once a week, if you get my drift.
That reminds me of a joke I wrote for Jackie “The Joke Man” Martling:
An elderly lady asks her equally elderly husband, “Would you like to have sex with a wrinkly old man?”
“Then what makes you think I want to?”
But let me get back to my story.
So I was alone in the house with my father and he started coughing…
“Are you okay, pop?”
I got up to help, not quite sure how, but he waved me off.
“I'm fine, I'm fine,” he sort of said.
...and that’s when he REALLY started coughing, his red face turning redder.
“I was busy trying to remember: Is it two compressions and fifteen breaths, or is it two breaths and 15 compressions? Should I do the Heimlich? Call 911? The Pope? Will I be required to give him the Kiss of Life? I sure hope I don’t have to give him the Kiss of Life.
Something was stuck in his throat and he was having a hard time dislodging it, along with whatever else that might have been hanging around in there due to the nasty cold I've been telling you about that he had and was still trying to get over. All that green slimy stuff, and who knows what else.
Finally, before I could do anything heroic that my beautiful wife could reward me for, he settled down, crisis averted. I don’t know how long what happened took, but the time seemed to pass super slow and super fast all at once. I don’t know how else to explain it. My father, meanwhile, took a sip of water…
…and then continued to eat!
My mother hadn’t exaggerated the story she told me for the sake of making it better.
As he shoveled a spoonful of food into his mouth he hoarsely mumbled something to me.
“What?” I asked, immediately kicking myself because I was aware I could have set him off on another coughing spree.
“I TOLD you I was fine,” he grumbled.
So much for my inheritance.
Drowning, choking, and suffocating are breathtaking experiences. firstname.lastname@example.org