Friday, July 14, 2017

Hey George, the Ocean Called . . .

My favorite Seinfeld episode without question is The Comeback in which George inexplicably finds himself gorging on shrimp during a meeting (just accept as the premise that there is a large bowl of shrimp at the meeting) and his co-worker Reilly zings him with, "hey George, the ocean called . . . they're running-out of shrimp." Always the quick thinker, George is unable to deliver any kind of retort and it's not until the drive home that he comes-up with "well the jerk store called and they're running out of you." I could go on forever about how this episode impacted me from "Jerkstore" becoming the name of every fantasy team I've owned* since to the fact that the name found its way onto the back of a Ravens' jersey which then became the subject of a couple dozen tailgate photos.

Pretty sure we all knew that
we were in for something
special when we saw this.
Before getting to the point of today's writing effort, I have to note two of the other storylines in The Comeback because their relevance is kinda freaky. In one, Jerry buys a tennis racket from a pro named Milos who he later discovers to be a fraud with no game (we all know how crafty those Russians can be) leading him to question his purchase. In another, Kramer watches a movie about a woman in a coma which sends him into a panic about getting a living will. Hold those thoughts - shrimp, tennis and coma. Let us proceed. 

So a couple of weeks ago I'm playing some interclub tennis because you can't be a true country club liberal unless you can compete on both sides of the parking lot (but I draw the line at squash). After thoroughly gagging a three set match which is my specialty, I returned to the comfort of my home and the FGW's delicious shrimp and chicken pesto pasta that I've previously eaten without incident on numerous occasions. Not only have I never had an issue with seafood, I grew-up on a damn river so I literally spent half my youth swimming in a giant bowl of bouillabaisse. It should also be noted at this point that I was coming off a month long member-guest season so when I wasn't on the golf course, I was generally within five feet of a buffet with some kind of prawn, claw or shell hanging-out of my mouth. Picture a drunk loquacious sea lion in a blue blazer. 

Twenty minutes after dinner I start to feel a mild itch which would be no real cause for alarm if it wasn't coming from both feet, the ends of my fingertips and my ears. Sensing something was up, I popped a couple of Benadryl and waited for them to knock my ass-out with five couch pillows wedged in and around every limb. Next stop: 3:00 a.m. "Where the Fuck Am I Town." (For the record, I had consumed no alcohol. Not even the stereotypical post tennis match Mich Ultra. I don't know why. I just hadn't. Now it seems weird. And it was probably a mistake). 

Ten minutes later I was nowhere near the partial sleep state I had anticipated. Instead, I started experiencing a feeling that Marcellus Wallace accurately described as "pretty fucking far from ok." At this point I alerted the FGW that we may have a problem. You know when you get your wife involved that shit has or is about to go south. You're just raising the emotional stakes when you elevate the threat level to DEFCON-WIFE so you better make that call judiciously. I still didn't sense that we were verging on critical condition but she was about to leave to go pick-up my son** in the middle of nowhere and I thought it best that maybe she stick around for a few minutes to see where this plot was going to take us. 

And holy shit. In one of the random writing courses I took, they told us that every plot is really just a guy paddling down the river in a canoe with shit happening to him.  If that was the case, then mine just struck an iceberg because things started deteriorating rapidly. First I started to get blotchy. Then things got spinny like every time I make the ill-fated decision to dip Skoal. Of course I still felt ok to drive like any middle aged red-blooded male because I'VE BEEN TRAINING FOR THIS MY WHOLE LIFE! That idea basically lasted from the kitchen to the front door by which time my tune had changed to "you need to drive . . . and we gotta go now."    

Fortunately we live five minutes from two emergency rooms and even more fortunately one of them is right across the street from the FGW's office because she confided in me that she wasn't exactly sure how to get to the other one and I was in no condition to provide directions. At least not in English as my dialect was turning into a combination of seven different middle eastern languages crossed with Robert De Niro speaking in tongues as he spun to his watery death at the end of Cape Fear. (Actually an apt analogy for how I was feeling at the moment). 

By the time we reached the emergency room, I was hanging onto consciousness enough to reach the registration desk, hand them my I.D. and say the words "allergic reaction" in the same slow loud voice I remember my dad using when trying to make dinner reservations in France. All I remember was that there was a big bald guy with an open wound on his head holding court and I thought, "great, I'm probably in line behind that clown." Now darkness was really creeping-in and I told the otherwise disinterested lady at the desk "I'm about to go down." Next thing I knew, someone drove a wheelchair under my ass and they started wheeling me back. 

Apparently I was pretty convincing because the triage nurse hadn't even finished taking my pulse yet when she said "we gotta go." I'm pretty sure I told her I loved her and asked her to marry me. By then of course the FGW had parked the car and was on the scene (awkward). After zipping me back across the waiting room and past Head Wound Harry (sucker), I was helped into a bed and then set-upon by three nurses and a doctor. The service was great but, when you've got that many people frantically working on you, your mind immediately goes to every scene in ER that ends with, "someone call the time of death" followed by Anthony Edwards slumping into a chair and putting his head in his hands. 

"God I suck at this. Mav, do you
have the number for that truck
driving school we saw on TV?"
First I got an IV with a bunch of stuff that sounded promising and then they told me that I was going to get a shot of Epinephrine and I remember thinking "well stop yapping about it and Vincent Vega that shit!" (Big Pulp Fiction episode of the FGR this week). Boom right into the thigh muscle and you definitely feel that one but the pain is offset by the belief that whatever came out of that needle is going to make you right coupled with the assurances that it generally works fast. Except in my case of course. Fifteen minutes later I was still shaking like my wife just told me she was pregnant with twins and my feet still looked like fucking tomatoes. Right on cue, the lady with the clipboard and the well-meaning but somehow disconcerting face shows-up to ask me what my religion is and whether I have a living will. The fact that I answered both questions with only about 62% certainty doesn't say much for my chances at salvation or my abilities as an attorney (assuming attorneys actually have any chance at salvation). 

Then just like that, the symptoms began to subside and I felt almost normal. Unfortunately, because they had shot me full of enough speed to win the Kentucky Derby, I now had to lay there for two more hours to make sure I didn't have a heart attack. The FGW decided to leave so she could check on our kids who were (1) sleeping, (2) out for the night and (3) supposed to be in an Uber heading home. Made me wonder how you handle this type of situation if you've got babies. I guess you haul them in there with you but what a nightmare. Then again, the FGW and I once went running from our burning house with our 2 year and 9 month old sons so it couldn't be much worse than that. This kind of shit happens to everyone right?        

Now I'm just laying there by myself in a bizarre state of exhausted hyperactivity which wouldn't allow sleep or the ability to focus on the book I managed to grab on the way out the door. So I did the obvious thing and took a picture of my view of the emergency room and started texting it to anyone I thought might be up at midnight on Tuesday. I actually found a few takers so that killed about twenty minutes before my "friends" eventually abandoned me in my time of need (their names have been noted on my "list").  

And then I was left with nothing but the non-stop beeping and buzzing sounds of the emergency room which, in the case of my little curtained area, also included a loud alarm that would go off every ten minutes which I think was a reminder for someone to come check my pulse. Only after the second visit they stopped checking my pulse and, shortly after that, they stopped coming altogether so the alarm just kept going off like a 120 decibel snooze button. After about forty-five minutes, I was on the verge of a full William Shatner in Airplane II meltdown.I think it was their way of telling me that I wasn't invited to spend the night . . . a hint with which I am all too familiar from the pre FGW era.

At about 1:30 a.m. I got the all clear so I texted the FGW to come get me. Fifteen minutes later they ripped the IV out of my arm (fucking literally and ouch) and I was on my way. I did get one nice parting gift in the form of the eight EKG pads stuck to my unfrozen caveman lawyer chest which they said "might" come off "a little easier" in the shower with some soap. Twenty minutes later I silently screamed my way through the disproving of that bullshit theory. And that was it. 

So that's my shrimp, tennis and near death story. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I didn't enjoy living it. Actually we're now a little over two weeks out and I still haven't done the blood test to find out if it was really the shrimp that got me. Frankly, I don't really want to know. Just kind of hoping it blows over so that me and shrimp can put the whole episode behind us and get back to the days when our relationship consisted of me eating it and it not trying to kill me.           


* The fact that those of us who play fantasy sports call ourselves "owners" erases any remaining doubt that we are complete losers (to the extent there was any remaining doubt). It's like saying you "own" a blank Keno card.  

** Being the parent of a 10, 14 and 16 year old who can't drive yet is like being an Uber driver in Topeka. You don't get paid squat, your car is always trashed and you spend all day waiting to drive a bunch of entitled shit heads to the same five places. (I kid because I love). 

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