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Sometimes When I’m Choking…

April 22, 2009


“Sometimes, when I’m choking, more food helps!”

This horrifying line is stolen from a Martin Short sketch. Shouting, gesticulating, and gulping food at once, he gags on a hastily gobbled doughnut. Declining the Heimlich Manoeuver, he loads more bready hunks into his mouth. Eventually, he spits out the whole mass, heaves a sigh of relief, and explains that the best remedy for choking is more food. Then, he resumes eating and talking, gleaning no lesson from his ordeal.

Watching this performance on television, I laughed till my cheeks turned pink (the remedy for choking on giggles? more giggles), because I’ve done this so many times–coughed on a shard of ill-swallowed cracker and chewed another in hopes that it would wash its buddy down; sent a sip down the wrong pipe and chugged the whole drink to quash my hacking. Terrible!

Now, friends and I use it as a catchphrase to call attention to poor decisions. For instance, an inebriated Dean replacing a spilled margarita:

“Hey! What are you doing there?”

“Freshening up my drink, of course.”

“Haven’t you had plenty?”

“Perhaps…but sometimes when I’m choking, more food helps!”

And so on.

It’s like the mechanism that makes Ritalin cool down hyper children. Apparently, some kids’ off-switches are set higher than others, and it takes more stimulation before nature kicks in to calm the crazy. Ritalin jacks up the child’s brain till it rings like a Test-Your-Strength bell and the metal weight descends to the ground. Sometimes, when you’re hyper, more hyper helps.

This also describes how I’ve tackled the past several months, heaping one thing atop the last while declining the Heimlich. Charting September through April requires a fine-point red pen, perhaps a protractor and graphing tools, a bit of string, some tape and a box of gold stars. Sometimes, the wiser remedy is slowing down, swallowing, pausing while the flush drains from your cheeks, then taking smaller bites. But, consider all those hectic precepts:

If you want something done, assign it to a busy person. The wind is calmer at the eye of the storm. When pressure exceeds what one space can handle, things will force their way into an area of lower concentration. Sometimes, when I’m choking, more food helps.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Carrie permalink
    April 23, 2009 11:43 am

    Reject Martin Short as a role model, I say. Reflect on his later career!

    Still, love the essay.

  2. Aaron Dietz permalink
    April 26, 2009 11:10 pm

    The eye of the storm concept is a great analogy. I’m often seeing things drop out when I get super busy, like getting groceries, or doing yoga, or calling family, or cooking – before I know it, I’m only focused on what’s absolutely necessary, which isn’t healthy, but it can be calming.

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