Last year, the Friday before Father’s Day, I ended up in the hospital because I forgot I could not deep throat a fist-size piece of London broil. After a night in the hospital, with no sleep, I found myself at home very early the next day, with a raw throat and still an inability to find some sleep.
Against what should have been my better judgement, went to my niece’s house for a birthday party. The ride there I was able to keep my eyes open. Told my story of the night in the hospital, embellished at times the more times I told. Informed that steak is the number one food that people choke on (London Broil is a second cousin to steak, as far as I am concerned).
As I ate, I needed to leave the patio a few times as I felt food take a pause on the way to my stomach; tacos should not get stuck in your throat. With all that happened the night before, I should have just stuck to liquids.
The ride home from my nieces was a bit more adventurous; I fought every mile to keep my eyes open. Shoes off, windows down, air-conditioner turned full blast, anything to not fall asleep behind the wheel.
The next day was Father’s Day. My ex-wife Arlene, and my two sons, Alexander and Danny, took me out for lunch. Went to a restaurant in Flemington that we frequented. We ordered, but I wasn’t really thinking when I did.
I ordered a steak sandwich.
As we ate our meal, Arlene talked, not really paying attention, I felt a now-familiar shock. My food was stuck in my throat. I grabbed my drink, took a gulp which stopped mid-swallow, then flew back out of my mouth.
Arlene kept talking.
Took another sip, my head down, the soda exploded onto the floor, nowhere else to go.
Arlene kept talking.
But Alexander and Danny noticed something and stared at me. I stood and walked to the bathroom, the two of them close behind.
Arlene kept talking, she only stopped when she realized she was the only one left at the table.
In the men’s room, fortunately, there was an open stall. I stood over the toilet and tried to throw up. Nothing. The only thing I thought of was, ‘I’m not going back to the hospital’.
My nephew Joe, my sister’s son, was heading to medical school soon, so he was the closest thing to a doctor we had in the family. I told Danny to call him, while Alexander performed the Heimlich Maneuver on me.
There we were, in the men’s room of the Chimney Rock restaurant. Alexander periodically lifted me off the ground, in a bear hug, as he tried to dislodge the piece of steak. Danny, on the phone like Karen Black in Airport 75 instructed by Charlton Heston on how to land a plane, barked out commands.
Unlike the movie, this plane did not land.
Earlier in the day, I spoke with my daughter Amanda, as we discussed the happenings of the last few days. She informed me that Alka Seltzer or a soda can help dislodge the blockage. I sent Danny on a mission, to the nearest pharmacy, to get me a bottle of Alka Seltzer.
Still, we paced in the bathroom, I was surprised how quickly Danny returned with the Alka seltzer. Fortunately, it wasn’t needed. During his absence, while guzzling soda, the steak dislodged and finished its journey.
When we all returned to the table, our food had been packed and waited for us, along with Arlene.
After Arlene paid the bill, we left the restaurant. Danny called to his mother and handed her car keys back.
“You drove to the pharmacy?” I asked. Danny replied, “Yes”.
Must admit, I was a bit disappointed. Danny had returned so quick that I envisioned him bolting from the restaurant, hurdling guard rails along the highway, only to burst into Walgreens, swiped a box from the shelf and toss money on the counter while he shouted, ‘My father needs me!’.
Instead, he leisurely drove over, air conditioner and radio on; he probably went through the drive-thru.
That was last Father’s Day. This year’s Father Day’s we were going to have a barbeque at Arlene’s house. When she told Danny she was going to throw a few steaks on the grill he replied:
“Maybe something bedsides steaks, because – well – you know…”