Dinner Tales

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I was in the medical field most of my life and have seen things that would make your toes curl. What I don’t understand, though, is why I’m always compelled to tell the most visceral, graphic stories during meals. And it’s not just tales about guts flying everywhere or burn victims looking like used matches. I’ve got to share all my favorite memories about the things I’ve seen shoved up people’s butts. I can’t help it. There’s something that clicks in me when I’m sitting down to eat with strangers, and before I know it I’m talking about that one guy who somehow inserted a porcelain vase up his rectum, and how we had to send someone out to get plaster of Paris so we could fill the vase to keep it from breaking and shredding his anus trying to get it out. For some inexplicable reason, the story sounds best while dining on rump roast.

That’s not all, though. As Jimmie Durante once said “I got a million of ’em!” I suppose I do it to see the look on everyone’s faces – you know, that wide-eyed green-around-the-gills expression, with food half eaten inside their gaping mouths. Yep, I think that’s it. Once I see that reaction I know I have a captive audience. Well, at least until someone inevitably upchucks all over the table, ruining the meal for the rest of us. There’s some real selfish people out there, I tell ya.  Remind me to tell you some vomit stories one of these days over steaming bowls of raisin oatmeal. Oh, what the heck, I’ll tell you one now.

Not only do I have a treasure trove of anecdotes from my adventures in the medical field, I also was a taxi driver off and on for years. Believe me, if I were a squeamish sort of fellow, I’d rather watch a hundred bowel resections than relive some of the things that have happened in the backseat of my taxi. I won’t tell you the best ones unless we’re in a Chinese buffet, but I will share a true story about a very thoughtful young man for whom I am eternally grateful. Let me start off by saying that you would not believe the sheer number of folks who enjoy throwing up in the back of a taxi. I mean, it’s like they wait until we’re in heavy traffic to blow chunks. It doesn’t do any good to tell them to stick their head outside, because they just decorate the outside of my cab with creative splashes. I always loathed vomiters. I’d have to hose out the back, wash the cab and spend twenty bucks on air fresheners just to get the heave ho smell out.

Well, one night I picked up this group of five college guys who were going downtown to party all night. They were really nice, tipped well, and even promised to call for me to pick them up when the bars closed. About three hours later my dispatcher came over the radio and told me I had a personal fare at the bar where I dropped those guys off. I thought it strange because the night was still young, but figured what the heck, a fare is a fare, right? When I got there I saw one of the guys leaned against the wall, obviously bombed out of his head. He must have started drinking long before, or was a true pantywaist. I picked him up and started driving him back…until he warned me he was going to be sick. How considerate. I pulled the cab over and let him relieve his dinner in someone’s front yard. We both thought that was the end of it and carried on to his place. Just when we turned on his street – I could see his house not far away – I heard him make that classic throat-ripping roar that indicated he had just emptied the remainder of his bowels. Great. As I pulled into his driveway he began apologizing in that slurring, food remnant still in the mouth voice. I jumped out of the cab angrily and ran around to his door, ready to give him what for as I tacked on another ten dollars to clean my taxi. I opened the door and saw that he had pulled the bottom of his tee shirt out from his pants and had turned it into a pretty nifty bowl, you know, like when you used to go around picking up pecans from the neighbor’s yard and used your shirt to hold them. Well, this guy had about fifteen gallons of puke cradled in his tee shirt, and as he very carefully climbed out of the cab, he apologized so pitifully that I almost hugged him. Yeah, right. He had managed to spare my taxi, and for that I was so grateful I waived the cab fare and helped him get inside. Well, after her emptied the contents of his shirt into the bird bath.

Now, there you have one of my favorite dinner stories, and I didn’t even wait until you were halfway done with your lasagna. I wonder why I always feel compelled to share these memories during a meal. I also wonder why I often eat alone.

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