Early Demise

The Hazards of Eating

I occasionally rant about the confusing vexation of just how one is supposed to eat right these days. There is no answer for the layman eater, or the expert eater, and in a sense we are all expert eaters since no one has to tell us how to go about the actual eating, but they can sure advise us as to what the eating should consist of. There is simply no correct answer and any answers that are today’s correctness have better then even odds of being tomorrow’s wrongness. It is all so confusing.

“Did you hear about Willie?” Junior asked Bubba.

“Hear what about Willie?” Bubba asked.

“Well you remember how Willie started eating all that health food, joined the fitness center down at the hospital, quit eating meat, milk, and bread, quit smoking, drank only bottled water quitting beer entirely, lost a hundred pounds, got rid of his high blood pressure, diabetes, skin eruptions, nervous tic, excessive flatulence, was miraculously cured of cancer by eating nothing but black olives, cashew nuts and raw asparagus, and then started training for a marathon?” asked Junior.

“Yeah, I remember all that. Willie’s doing good, now,” said Bubba, an eyebrow raised. “So?”

Looking around and leaning forward, in a conspiratorial whisper Junior said, “Maybe he’s not so good.”

Bubba asked, impatient now, “So what’s the matter with him, then?”

“He’s dead,” said Junior.

“Dead? Dead? What on earth happened?” Bubba asked.

“He choked to death on an olive while running on a treadmill at the fitness center!” Junior replied.

“Do what???” asked Bubba in disbelief.

“Yep. Turned red in the face and passed right out right there in the hospital, they said. Shocked him with them electric paddles about ten times, but Willie was a goner. They only found that olive when they did the autopsy. It was one of them big, black Greek Kalamata olives, they said. He never had a chance with the big olive stuck in his windpipe and all. Poor Willie,” Junior said with a shake of his head.

“Poor Willie,” said Bubba, also shaking his head.

“Poor Willie,” they both said, shaking their heads, thinking that there’s nothing on earth that could make them eat one of those strong, pungent olives. Maybe, they thought, some chopped-up-pimento-stuffed olives in some deviled eggs but that was because you couldn’t really see them, being chopped up and all, but never would either dare one of those black olives, each thinking that it was far more likely that the other one would choke on a fried pork chop than a black olive, never pausing to consider that it might be themselves doing the choking.

“Just goes to show you how dangerous a treadmill can be,” said Junior.

“And poison Olives that even a dog won’t eat,” said Bubba.

They both shook their heads as they took a large bite out of their double quarter-pound bacon cheeseburgers and washed it down with a big gulp of root beer, eyes visualizing something far, far away, as if in another world: perhaps visions of Willie, the new, thin Willie, and a handful of black olives in a foreign place, trying to gain admittance by offering to pay with the olives. There were no takers. Odd, really, that they were having the same thoughts without having any conversation, as if their internal dialogs were a continuation of their external one, but neither knowing the direction of their silent conversations, though they were in exactly the same place. Perhaps the narcotic-like effect of the bacon cheeseburgers had some extra-sensory properties that put them on the same ethereal plane, allowing for a linking of like minds. They had known each other for a long time, so perhaps they simply knew each others mind and the cheeseburgers had nothing to do with it.

“You never know,” said Junior, cheeseburger juice dribbling down his chin. Bubba made wiping motions so Junior would use his napkin before the dribble dripped onto his shirt, but Junior was too absorbed in his thoughts to see what Bubba was trying to communicate. Too late…a big dollop of bacon-grease infused mustard and ketchup plopped right down on Junior’s shirt, just at the point where his belly overhung his chest, as if it were a shelf for catching things, in fact, one could still see some evidence of Junior’s breakfast there. But there was no evidence of Kalamata olives. Junior wiped his belly off with a napkin, muttering to himself as he did so. Bubba laughed and pointed to his own belly, sporting a grease stain or two of its own. They laughed together as they thought of Willie. Thinking that their sickly childhood friend would die long before them, then having decided that he would outlive them both with his remarkable new healthy program that had benefited him so greatly, they then wondered when the funeral arrangements would be complete. Finishing their meal they walked out the door, Junior’s shirt sporting the most vivid red and yellow stain. They shook hands and Bubba climbed into his truck.

Before shutting the door, he turned to Junior and said, “You just never know, do you?”

“Nope,” said Bubba. “Never know.”

©2014 Mississippi Chris Sharp

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