Saturday, January 07, 2006

Confessions of a Chicken Bone Salesman: Laurel and Heimlich

Friends, Romans, and Countrymen,

Alas, two evenings ago, before settling down (if this is the correct phrase) to watch "360," with Anderson Cooper, I nearly choked to death on a chicken bone. There I was sitting (or half-sitting, given my ongoing bouts with ADHD), at the table, eyeballing a half-crocked candle when, lo and behold, there it was, the oddest sensation of something making it half-way down my throat (alas, nothing X-rated), and the sensation of gagging.

Naturally, at a time like this, one remembers Mama Cass, and other victims of that most nefarious of nightmares---the arrogant chicken bone lodger. It's funny what thoughts go through one's mind. "Will I stop breathing? When? Why not?" It's at a moment like that when you appreciate that, regardless how much you despise your miserable little life, you want to go on with it, or at least with the pretense that it will get bigger, and/or less miserable. In order to do so, first, and foremost, you must learn not to panic.

The only other time I came this close to lights out courtesy of a rogue bone was when I lived in Queens, back in 1981, and had just come home after having taken the infernal F train from Penn Station, and whoa was I stressed. I'll spare you the gory details, suffice it to say, here I am, 25 (ouch) years later and, until two days ago, choke-free, though not stress-less.

A dear friend wrote to me, this morning, from China, suggesting that I learn the Heimlich manuever. Jeez, it was hard enough to learn how to parallel park. Maybe our friend Mr. Heimlich has a great-grandson? I'm sure, if I had a man with me, I wouldn't need Heimlich (Depending on the man, I might need to learn other maneuvers, but not that one.) My women friends who are attached tell me that one might infinitely prefer a chicken bone to a man, after all. Look at all the work I'm getting done without one---(a man, not a chicken bone.) Maybe I should count my blessings which, of course, I do; the question is: do they count me?

At a moment when one stares down mortality, one takes stock of what to give thanks for. In the past few years, since moving to the Bay Area, the thing I'm most grateful for is having learned the fine art of sublimation, and learned it so well, I might add, that I could write a book on the virtues of sublimation---maybe even 2 books, 3 books...
Care to join me?