Friday, June 13, 2008

I Only Pass Out in the Best Places

I am under strict orders from my son never to do this again. We were dining with family, and I was enjoying a beer and a well-prepared meal in a sunlit restaurant in exotic Kirkland. As conversation wafted around I became distracted by an odd sensation in my stomach, a feeling akin to what you might experience if you swallowed a live and angry badger.

My initial Badger Pacification Strategy (BPS) was denial. Skip this tack should this happen to you. It's useless. As the situation rapidly deteriorated, I adopted BPS #2: Lowering my head to the table in an attempt to control the mounting nausea. You might want to skip BPS #2 as well. No help.

It became clear that I was down to two choices. Release the "badger" in our cozy booth, (BPS #3) or make for the restroom and return the little guy to the wild via the porcelain porthole (BPS #4). Clearly there is no scenario under which #3 could be defined as successful, which left only a desperate attempt at #4.

Thinking quickly I enlisted Pam as my handler, the better to spread the inevitable blame when the doomed mission went grandly awry. I rose decisively to my feet, and then (I'm told) crumpled decisively to the floor (BPS #5)

Miraculously, BPS #5 worked great. At least on the badger. But one doesn't crumple to the floor in the middle of a restaurant discreetly. A hullabaloo followed. People were summoning help via their cell phones before I hit the carpet. When I came to, I looked up into a circle of unfamiliar and concerned faces. They assured me that the paramedics would arrive soon, and hovered close until they arrived.

I was still gathering my wits when the team showed. They lost no time in festooning me with wires connected to machines that read vital signs. I was feeling much better and after explaining about the hazards of rising too quickly when on Parkinson's medications, which can lower blood pressure and cause fainting, I managed to talk them out of taking me to the hospital.

This moment of helplessness paradoxically granted a measure of hope. We are bound to one another by our frailty. Confronted by my small catastrophe, strangers responded with swift compassion.

I wobbled out of the restaurant under my own power but with my family arrayed in close formation around me. As we wound our way to the door, I carried a new intimacy with the anonymous throng returning to their dinners.

The barriers had been breached, and as we left, it was possible to sense a common thought that clearly ran through the minds of many: "Damn, I hope I didn't order whatever HE had!"

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