Life is becoming more interesting by the moment after declaring in last week's post to get off the couch to help others. This time, the soul who needed the help was me.
Dinner with our friends Maureen and Sal over steamers, mussels and lobster on our backyard deck Saturday night took an unexpectedly sharp turn. After a bigger than necessary bite from a lobster tail, I found myself fighting for air with lobster meat lodged in my windpipe.
A casual discussion about existentialism with Sal earlier that day suddenly became meaningful. When your moment arrives, who greeted you above? Did Allah's followers have it right? Or would your energy meld as one with the universe? Maybe you'd simply come back as your first dog, Skipper.
The irony struck me, sitting there at the dinner table. Was this the final cruel joke on someone who mimicked Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein playing Charades to communicate his plight -- Said-a-Give-- while the monster Peter Boyle strangled him?
I had always scoffed at those greasy spoons whose only artwork on their drab walls was a health department license and a Heimlich maneuver poster. Had the Man Upstairs orchestrated some grand plan to teach me a lesson? One swallow. No air. Once more, same thing. Third time, not a charm.
I stood up at the table. At this point my wife and friends knew the drill. Sal clasped his hands below my rib cage, thrust inward and upward, still no air. I somehow heard his calm but firm command to raise my hands over my head. Another thrust. Then never did it feel so wonderful to take in Springs' summer night air.
They later told me that the by-product of this successful maneuver was not a pretty sight. You can see the culprit behind this incident below. Lord forbid you or a loved one ever find yourself in this predicament, here is more on the Heimlich maneuver technique and how to enroll in the East Hampton Y's safety courses.
It hit me yesterday that it was on an August Saturday night 37 years ago that my dad at the same age --55-- suffered a stroke, eventually recovering to lead 23 more fulfilling years. While my episode paled by comparison, it underscored the important stuff.
So Sunday my wife and I strolled along the shore at Clearwater Beach, dodged the piping plovers and watched the sun set. As for my Guardian Angel Sal, Santa will take exceptionally good care of him this Christmas. Lesson learned: Better to take in life one bite-sized piece at a time than to devour it all at once.