Greetings, WYMOP readers!
This is the story of how I almost died.
I’ll never forget it. It was a sunny day at the Magic Kingdom, one of the wonderful amusement parks that help make Disney World the place where dreams come true. It was Orlando hot, and Orlando muggy, but we were Boston hungry as we moved toward the Pirates of the Caribbean theme ride; we were looking for someplace eat.
We had an hour and a half before our FastPass would run out for Pirates, so we thought an establishment where we could actually sit down would be nice—where we could eat off plates, using forks and knives, rather than standing next to a food cart manned by a fat guy wearing glow-in-the-dark Mickey ears who smelled like raw hot dogs and baby powder, gulping down half-chewed hamburgers while a healthy Holstein calf’s body weight in grease ran down our arms.
We were in the street, squinting (okay, I was squinting—I’m old, sue me) at the menu board mounted beside the door of something called The Diamond Horseshoe, when a man stepped off the curb and met us in the gutter. Red-headed and smiling, white-shirted and arm-gartered, wearing an apron and bearing some menus, this extremely helpful man explained the three meals his menus covered, in great detail, and then pointed to the four magic words at the bottom of the page: all you can eat!
Well I was hooked, reeled in, and swimming about the live well on this fisherman’s boat, but my son looked at the menu, pulled a face, and shook his head: there was nothing there the boy liked. Sadly—oh, so sadly—I started to hand the menus back.
“I just thought I’d mention it,” said the happy, smiling bastard of a man, looking up at my five-foot-ten, 200 lb son, “but we do have a kid’s menu with chicken tenders and hot dogs and . . .”
The boy brightened: the man had had him at “chicken.” When he added, “And the kid’s menu is all you can eat too” I could see my son considering the possibility of being adopted by this man.
That was okay. So was I. We followed our new best friend out of the hot street into the cooler comfort of the Diamond Horseshoe’s dining room, and the appellation on this potential family member’s name tag was Russell.
Ah, Russell . . .
So Russell began to bring food, making it appear on the table like some street magician trying to impress a crowd. The boy had his chicken tenders while his mother and I had the roast beef with gravy and mashed potatoes with jhvbnmnfghjfxdfvgbhjhjgfdf—sorry about that! I just drooled a bit and had to wipe off the keyboard. Suffice to say it was yummy. Scrumptious. Delectable. jhvbnmnfghjfxdfvgbhjhjgfdf
So I worked through a plate, a nice, full serving. Just before I was finished, Russell slipped another plate right next to mine—a full plate, and the man had noticed I’d not touched my first helping of green beans and gone ahead and given me double mashed potatoes this time. The bastard. The devious, wonderful bastard.
So we ate. I ate my two servings, and then Russell suggested a third. “You really seemed to enjoy that last one,” he wheedled needlessly: I knew I’d enjoyed it. I’d been there. That was my gravy-soaked beard Russell was mopping with a towel (a warm towel, unbelievably soft and smelling of Downy) as he extolled the virtues of the meal. I was the one currently singing the eighteenth verse of a little song I’d written called “My God, that was Good!” The words of the song are simple: “My God that was good,” repeated until consciousness fails.
I caved. I ordered a third plate.
I continued my song.
I refused a fourth plate. I’d like to say it was due to some strength of character, or that I know when enough is enough, or even because my mom had impressed upon me the need to never make a pig of myself. There are lots of things I’d like to claim as the reason I wasn’t found dead at that table the next morning, knife in one hand, fork in the other, feed bag strapped firmly to my fat, willpowerless face. But I can’t. It was simply out of my control.
I ran out of time.
We’d wandered a bit before finding the Diamond Horseshoe, so I only had time to swill down three full-sized helpings of the most rib-stickingest food I’d ever come across before we had to move along to our appointment with the Pirates of the Caribbean. With great regret I paid the check, fighting off Russell’s suggestions of dessert, coffee, dessert, more drinks, and dessert. People stared as we made our way to the exit, the aproned and arm-gartered Russell clinging to my right ankle and weeping copiously into my sock.
I gently shook him loose and caught up with the others in the street where we set out, waddling with all speed (and with me squishing wetly every other step) toward our destination ride. We were almost halfway there when I realized I was a little out of breath. No, that wasn’t quite right: I simply couldn’t draw a full breath. There didn’t seem to be enough room left in me to allow air entry as well.
I wheezed and waddled on, listening to the other two complain about how full they were, and how they’d overeaten. I would have laughed, had I but the breath. Instead I focused on the way that, though I’d stopped actually eating, I was somehow growing more full as time went on. Pressure was mounting inside me—and not pressure to find a bathroom. That I could have handled. No, this was more the omnidirectional pressure of a blown up balloon, and it seemed that each passing minute another breath was forced into me; I was getting close to popping.
I’m pretty sure I passed out on Pirates. Yup, that’s me, life of the party: I go all the way to Disney to take a fatnap on one of the rides.
After Pirates the others wanted to go back to the hotel, and I thought this was a good thing. Istill feeling more and more full as time went by, and I was pretty sure I’d already passed the structural limits that had been set by my manufacturer.
In any case, I made it to the hotel room, where I lay on the bed in a food coma, wishing only to get the business of dying over with. I tried to ignore the cheerful people insisting that we go to the pool, but they were insistent. They were pushy. They were also of the opinion that if I was going to die, I could do it just as well poolside as lying in bed moaning—and by the way, what was that smell?
Fine. I staggered off, fully expecting to die by the pool. Then I stumbled back, fully expecting to die in the hotel room. Then I went to bed, fully expecting to die in my sleep. Then in the morning there were these doughnuts, and I . . .
Wait—doughnuts? The chocolate-covered kind? From Entenmann's?
I was suddenly feeling a little better. It seemed the crisis had passed—but barely. I firmly believe that, had I not stuck to my guns and avoided that dessert the man was pushing so hard for, I wouldn’t have been standing there shoving a doughnut in my mou—I mean, I wouldn’t have been there the next day at all. I’d have been dead. By the pool. And it would have all been the fault of one man—and his name was Russell.
Russell: the friendly food-assassin.
Talk to you later!