It is late Sunday night and I am standing in the kitchen with a mouthful of tootsie rolls. I have jammed eight, bite-size tootsie rolls into my mouth and now am having problems breathing. I should have blown my nose first – it never dawned on me that I would need my nasal passages to suck air into my lungs. Literally, I can’t open my mouth without tootsie roll juice spilling out everywhere, and I’ll be damned if I am losing any of the chocolaty saliva now that I have gone this far – even if I can’t move my teeth or get air past all the goo lodged on the top of my tongue.
Indeed, it is clear, I have decided to choke on tootsie rolls rather than let go or, for that matter, pack for an early Monday morning flight to Los Angeles. Prior to my ongoing tootsie roll debacle, I calculated how early I would have to get up if I put off packing altogether, especially if I waited to iron the shirts in the washing machine needed for the trip. It would mean waking up at the crack of dawn, and, even then, I might not have time to iron the shirts, yet alone get everything else accomplished, including picking up documents left in my office by mistake. Still, under the enticing onslaught of bite-size tootsie rolls crammed into my mouth all at once, packing doesn’t stand a chance.
Earlier today, I was so good. My wife Karen and I spent a three-day weekend in Pennsylvania and before we drove home, Karen bought the tootsie rolls for the road; she purchased a huge brown bag of “midgies” just for the two of us, even though I told her this was a mistake and the last thing I needed. However, once we were driving, I stayed strong and ate only three: one because it was a tootsie roll, after all, the second because you can never eat just one, and the third when Karen announced she was closing the bag. Given the circumstances – a six-hour drive with forty minutes stopped in traffic due to an accident – I was proud of my will-power and restraint. At any point it would have been easy to say, “Hey, Hon, this is killing me, toss me a midgy!” But, I didn’t. I kept my mouth shut and my mind off of her tootsies.
That is until tonight. Tonight, when I was in the laundry room with the washing machine banging away and the dryer beeping incessantly, it was, then, that I saw the tootsie roll bag with the wide opening gap sticking out of my wife’s purse on a nearby table. I remembered how good I had been earlier, and the thought occurred to me that I should reward myself now that I was alone and had unlimited access to the hundreds of individually-wrapped midgies. Still, that wasn’t simply it. It wasn’t until needing to iron my shirts, jump on the computer to pay some bills, stop by the office for those critical documents, leave instructions for the staff, do my wife a favor by running past the post office and the grocery store, race to an ATM and get gas, and give the Red Cross all of my blood before being totally sucked dry – that my cravings grew past the point of sanity – it wasn’t until I thought of the plane waiting, engines smoking, no where to park at the airport, the all-call system moaning my name over and over, the door closing at the last gate of the long terminal, stewardesses standing in a huff on the plane, all the seats but the one in the very middle filled with angry travelers and crying babies, no room overhead for my luggage, and no room under the seat for my cumbersome laptop and my sweaty legs and hot feet – it wasn’t until then that the inspiration was fully and completely formed on undertaking a quick-as-a-whistle tootsie stuffing into my pants pockets.
Now I wonder what Karen will say when she hears me suffocating on the tootsie rolls – and when she rushes into the kitchen to give me mouth-to-mouth resuscitation – what will her reaction be when my mouth tastes like burped-up, barely-chewed, tootsie-roll-chocolate? What if Karen finds me lying already on the floor with our clean clothes crunched around me, and she realizes she has to reach down my slimy throat and grab that glob of chocolate lodged in there to save my life? But what if I die with the chocolate goop all over her hands, chocolate snoot running out of my nose, and chocolate drool oozing out of my mouth? And, later, in the funeral procession, when Karen is riding alone in the black limo following my white hearse, what if she discovers all the midgies gone from the brown plastic bag in her purse? What if, at the grave-site, while the minister drones on and on about what a good man I am, she puts it all together – that the big bag of midgies she purchased back in Pennsylvania was actually what did me in? (“Everyone! STOP! I know what killed him, and it wasn’t me!”)
After everything I tried in life, after those years as a kid competing with my brother on who could stuff the most sandwiches into our mouths, or as a teenager pumping fistfuls of popcorn into my mouth from one movie to another, or as an adult dishing hundreds of dinners into my mouth like I was the Thanksgiving turkey – no, it was eight, individually-wrapped, bite-sized tootsies eaten together at midnight on a Sunday night when I was nearly sixty and supposedly ready like any normal adult my age for a business trip the following morning that totally and completely did it. What would the staff, my friends, everyone think then?
Oh… wait… never mind…
It turns out, I CAN swallow them all!
Should I pack?
Hmmmm, I think, I’ll try ten.