|Dangerspouse Rides Again|
Garage - Track
Feb. 25, 2004 - 1:10 p.m.
Before you read my entry - hell, instead of reading my entry - go read this entry from Poolagirl. It's a funnier, cooler, sexier entry than I could ever hope to write about nuns. About nuns talking about sex. With washcloths. Trust me, click the link. It will all make sense....
There are certain advantages to being of Italian extract. Not to play into stereotypes, but I can absorb startling quantities of olive oil without suffering coronary slowdowns. Hitting people in the kneecaps with cylindrical objects is second nature to me, and one of the best persuaders known to man (that's how I got into radio). And I can cook anything you put in front of me. A rock. Popsicle sticks. Vaseline. Doesn't matter; I'll make it taste good.
On the down side, I exude Eau d'Olive Oil. Constantly. People with weak kneecaps avoid me. And a 36,000 calorie/day diet will never develope a butt you can bounce a quarter off of. You could bounce a few kids off it though, at the same time. Wheee! Squishy!!
Another Italian quality I've been blessed/cursed with is, I have a big mouth. Not just figuratively either. I can fit 3 billiard balls into this cavernous maw, and still shovel lasagne past them without impediment. If I yawn and you yell at me, you'll hear an echo. It's big.
For the most part I've adjusted pretty well, no longer getting annoyed by people pointing garage door openers at my mouth when they see me near their house. Or by the longing looks of fishermen as I stroll along the river - they're mentally setting hooks, wondering what strength line to use on a mouth like that. I'm long over that petty stuff.
But every now and then it does pose a problem. Like this morning.
Early this morning I prepared a terrific breakfast. Radiatore Margharita - pasta in a simple tomato sauce flavored with basil. It wasn't complicated, but with whole Roma tomatoes and a generous fistful of fresh basil leaves it was a much needed early taste of Spring. I downed a bowlfull at 2am and packed the rest for lunch. Which I usually take at around 7.
Unfortunately this morning I forgot my spoon. You see, I only use spoons to transport food to my mouth. Forks just don't do it for me. All the sauce scurries through the tines, and I'm always left with a pool of uneaten saucy goodness at the bottom of plate or bowl. There are poor people without Bearnaise Sauce in China! I can't let it go to waste. NewWifey(tm) has learned to stoically look away when I ask the waiter for a spoon with my steak. And it has to be a BIG spoon. At home I've filed the handles down on several cooking spoons for my use at table. These are spoons that can hold almost a cup of rice at a scoop. My boca grande is satisfied with nothing less. Tablespoons get caught between my teeth.
Well this morning I forgot to pack my spoon, like I say. And paid a heavy price for my negligence.
Immidiately following my 7:02am WRNJ report I scooted out to the filthy refrigerator in the break room wherein I'd stashed my breakfast. I have the routine down to a foolproof science now. It takes me 28 seconds to get from my studio to the breakroom, 5 seconds to get the food into the filthy microwave, 2 minutes to get my average meal hot, then 47 seconds to return to my filthy studio, set the food down, put my headphones on and dial up the ISDN for my next station's report. That usually leaves me just enough time to open the Tupperware and burn my tongue on the first bite, since I don't have enough willpower to wait 2 minutes and 30 seconds til that report is over before starting to eat.
This morning however, my carefully calculated timing was thrown all askew. Because I forgot my spoon.
Normally I keep the spoon in my coat pocket (it's the least filthy thing I can carry it in), but as soon as I unzipped I could tell it wasn't in there. In my haste this morning I must have left it sitting on the kitchen counter. Shit. I'll eat a lot of foods with my hands, even some soups. But when you're at work in a nice white shirt eating red tomato sauce - and more importantly, hunched over tens of thousands of dollars worth of moisture sensitive radio equipment - you really have to check your natural impulses and find a utensil. So I did.
Unfortunately, all I was able to find was a box of those crappy white plastic teaspoons that they buy by the case here for the coffee drinkers. I've seen these things previously of course, though have never actually used one. But...I was desperate this time, and very hungry. So even though they looked like so many dolls' spoons to me, I gingerly picked one up and gave it a try. It felt like I was holding a toothpick.
I know how to lose weight now, if I ever decide to. Good god, it would take all day to eat a single meal with a spoon that size! One pea at a time - two, if you could balance one on top of the other - or an eyedropper of broth. What should have been wolfed down in the thirty seconds between my next two reports was still 90% unfinished in my bowl. I set my arm to a furious pace, practically flinging each solitary piece of pasta into my mouth in a desperate attempt to finish the portion before it got cold. Cold pasta...blech!
I ended up making pretty good progress for a few seconds. I fell into a natural rhythm, and it looked like I'd just be able to swallow the last Lilliputian portion and down a quick slug of water before I had to go on the air again. I could see the clock ticking down out of the corner of my eye, and kept shovelling with my right hand while my left flipped through the copy book for my next commercial.
It was down to the last spoonfull. The lone remaining radiatore, smeared with just a whiff of sauce, was scooped from the Tupperware and began the half-second journey to my face. In my headphones I could hear the theme music begin, which meant they would throw it to me in 20 seconds. I was going to make it! Even with that stupid toy spoon I'd still managed to get my entire meal injected while it was piping hot. Hah! Bacchus (a fellow Italian, btw) wins again!
Force of habit is a hard animal to tame. When I heard the intro music I immediately, involuntarily, started to suck in a lungfull of air. If you've ever taken a public speaking course, you know this is standard practice. You wanna be pumped up like a condom balloon at a GLAAD march before you utter your first phoneme. Take it from me kids, I'm a professional. And here's what happened when I professionaly pulled in that 4 cubic feet of air: I sucked in the spoon.
Not the pasta. The spoon.
I was eating so fast up til that point that the overspray had coated the slick plastic handle with a thin layer of tomato juice and olive oil. Some of you may remember the old motor oil commercial where they dipped the shaft of a screwdriver into a bucket of the stuff, then held it upside down and challenged The Strongest Man in the World to hold it in his fist without dropping it. He couldn't. That was this spoon. So there I was, guiding a slippery plastic spoon towards my mouth while at the same time creating suction like an F-15 fighter jet intake. The outcome should have been predictable. And it was.
The shock of the leading edge hitting square against my uvula snapped my entire head back like a Pez dispenser. I started to gag and immediately convulsed into a cough. The spoon stayed firmly in place - in fact it seemed to be slipping backwards! I coughed harder, crimson faced and bent over now.
Oh no - I was getting my cue! I heard in my headphones "...and for a live update, here's Dangerspouse." I had to say something! This was on the largest all news station in the country! I...I.....I.....
Now there's a sentence I never wanted to have to type out, unless it was referring to food. But...I swallowed. What else could I do? I couldn't talk with it lodged at the back of my tongue. I couldn't get it up (another painful sentence to write, although occasionally more applicable than the swallowing one). And I had to talk. There was no choice, really. The show must go on.
Now just because I swallowed doesn't mean that the situation resolved itself. Oh no ho ho. I managed to gasp out the shortest report of my career, catching the anchor completely off guard after basically saying "Thanks, Paul. The situation's normal. Back to you." I clipped my mic off and collapsed to the floor. Although swallowing the spoon allowed me to speak, it was at the cost of cutting off 95% of my air intake.
Fortunately the Program Director was monitoring the station and came storming in to my studio to find out why the hell I'd just shortchanged our biggest client. He was so mad that when he opened the door and saw me lying on the filthy rug, my face turning various patterns of plaid, he just yelled "DANGERSPOUSE! Why the fuck did you just do a NINE SECOND REPORT on 1010WINS radio in the middle of Morning Drive when we are contractually obli- STAND UP WHILE I'M FIRING YOU, DAMMIT!"
Much as I wanted to, it was not to be. I lay there like a lox. Finally it dawned on him that I was not actually taking a mid-shift nappy-poo, but rather was in severe distress. I pointed to my throat and with the other hand gave him the finger (indicating that something was fucked up with my throat). Bless him, he's been in this business long enough that he understood immediately. He sprang into action.
"Elizabeth! Get in here quick!" he bellowed out the door. "We need you to cover for Dangerspouse for a few minutes - we can't miss any reports!"
Gee thanks, boss. That's very helpful.
Once Elizabeth and Boss had gotten everything squared away for commercial copy, mic levels, etc., he bent over to help me. Or try to help me. Unfortunately though, clearing my airway did not involve pushing a pencil at it, although he tried. So he ran out to see if anyone had a slightly more progressive knowledge of practical First Aid.
I was able to get enough oxygen to stay conscious during this time, which was unfortunate. Because of where I fell, and because I'm an Italian who naturally weighs 225 pounds, Elizabeth had to straddle my upper body to stand at my console and reach the microphone.
She was wearing a skirt.
I was lying face up.
Nooo! Pleas god, let her be using the good ones that don't leak. The ones that have commercials showing women confidently wearing white pants and swimming laps.
Please don't drip on me while I'm already having trouble breathing!!
(Guys, if none of that made sense to you, stop any lady on the street and ask her. Be prepared to duck.)
Thankfully, Elizabeth not only went for a name brand, but sprung for the deodorized model also. Bad I was, I resolved then and there to get her a dozen of the best roses I could find when I was feeling better. Which wasn't going to be ever if that Program Director didn't return with help soon!
Well, Program Director DID return with help, and none too soon. I was starting to seriously entertain thoughts of voting for Nader, so my brain functions must have been rapidly shutting down. He strode in with the one person who can fix anything at a radio station, including announcers: the Chief Engineer. I was saved!
The engineer pulled his little pen light out and asessed the situation.
"Looks like you've got a spoon stuck in your throat" was his pronouncement.
I started to feel very cold.
Well to make a long story short, he got it out. He had one of those long, flexible wire-snake things with the grabby hook on the end. You've seen them, right? You press a button on one end and a claw opens up at the other to grab loose screws, eyelids, etc. They work really well.
Except, apparently, on plastic spoon handles coated in olive oil. I started to panic. Chief Engineer remained calm though, and came up with an easy solution. Actually, the solution was only easy to him. I had to endure having the back of my throat sprayed with electrical contact cleaner - basically pure benzyne. I started thrashing like a shark being gaffed, but he was lightning quick with that grabber-snake, and before I was completely asphyxiated from the fumes he had extricated the offending utensil. I took my first full breath in close to twenty minutes. And promtly vomitted down Elizabeth's socks.
Make that TWO dozen roses.
Fortunately they let me go home as soon as I was able to stand without swaying like a toy punching dummy. They would have still made me go back on the air, but my throat was so raw I sounded like Marlon Brando doing the Don Corleone death scene.
Back at home and NewWifey(tm) called to see what I was making for dinner.
"What's wrong with your voice?" she said.
I told her.
"It's all because of that huge Italian double-wide dumpster of a mouth, you know. If it were human sized, that never would have happened. Just use your fingers next time if you forget your shovel again, ok? I don't want to have to leave work to pick you up from the hospital some day."
Thanks, honey. Listen, let me introduce you to my Program Director. Feel free to run off together.
Anyway, that was my day. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get something to eat.
Anybody seen my spoon...?