The Italian Job

I never thought the end would come on the North Fork.  Possibly on the South Fork of Long Island, but never the North.  But there I was, in a bathroom in the town of Jamesport, trying to get some air in my lungs as I was close to choking to death.

This was at the very end of a harrowing vacation that Yduj and I had while staying at Gurney’s Inn in Montauk.  It all started smoothly enough as we arrived in the late afternoon to a beautiful room near the beach.  Although a place like Gurney’s is ordinarily neither of our cups of tea, we thought a few relaxing days on a beach would be a fun time.  After we had settled in, we decided to have dinner at the restaurant on the premises.  That decision (which would prove fateful) was made, in part, because our room rate included meal allowances for breakfasts and dinners.  My Inner Jew  was certainly not going to pass on that.

I forget what I ordered, but Yduj had some kind of sushi dish with a lot of greens.  At some point, she stopped eating and started fishing in her mouth for a foreign (not Japanese) object that had arrived with her last forkful.  And then…and I swear this is true…she removed a good-sized hat pin from her mouth.  Since she doesn’t ordinarily perform magic tricks over dinner, I knew that something really bad had just happened.

We called our waitress over to show her our “catch of the day”.   She offered an apology of some sort which did nothing to mollify us.  We then asked for the maitre de who didn’t know what to do beyond saying  that he was going to bring the hotel manager in on the case.  Within minutes the  manager arrived and we repeated the story and showed him the monster pin.  He was visibly concerned and said some things to try to keep our soon-to-be-hired team of lawyers at bay.  And then, in a gesture that was meant  to disarm us (and have us un-retain our soon-to-be-hired team of lawyers) he told us, “of course, there will be no charge for the meal”.  Since our allowance had covered most of the cost, we wound up ordering some desserts that we didn’t want, just to pad the bill.  So in the end, Yduj almost killing herself on the hat pin saved us about twelve bucks.  My Inner Jew is still ashamed of himself for not driving a harder bargain.  We agreed, that if this had happened to my brother-in-law, Nek, he would have owned the place by dawn.

Much of the next few days were uneventful up until one time, as I was going into the ocean, I was knocked over by a series of large breaker waves; the final one sent me under and smashed me to the sea bed.  Somewhat dazed, I staggered out and checked my body parts.  Within a few minutes I noticed some golfball-sized lumps on my forearm and became aware of a severe pain in my ribcage.  The swelling ultimately went down but I realized  that I had either bruised or cracked a rib.  Which, as you may not  know, doesn’t only hurt when you laugh.  It also hurts when you sneeze.  Also, when you blow your nose. Also, when you lean over.  Also, when …well, almost all the time.

Which brings me to my near choking-to-death experience.  On the day we escaped from Gurney’s, just barely alive, Yduj and I decided to explore some of the towns on the North Fork.  We stopped off at a cute cafe in Jamesport.  I was waxing poetic about our exciting vacation while eating a sandwich. And suddenly, in what was almost the last bite of my life, a hunk of bread and cheese lodged in my throat.  Things have been going down the wrong pipes in my system for some time now, but this was different.  I couldn’t clear it and was having trouble getting air; I bolted to the bathroom where I felt liberated to do all kinds of disgusting things to try and save my life.  I was getting nowhere and starting to panic when it occurred to me that I needed a Heimlich maneuver.  Somewhere I had heard that it could be self-administered so I began trying to force my crossed arms into my rib cage.  This, by the way, is also very painful when you have a cracked rib. VERY PAINFUL!!!  

Finally, with enough gagging I was able to clear my windpipe and avoid the prospect of rushing back into the dining area and begging for a hug from a stranger.

On our trip back home, I had a chance to reflect on the week’s events.  In thinking about the three near-death incidents that Yduj and I had experienced, I sensed a common thread. Two of the episodes had happened at Gurney’s which despite its Anglo name is owned by Italians–the Montemarano family. The cheese in the sandwich I had choked on was mozzarella.  On focaccia bread, no less.   Sure, it’s probably just a coincidence, and maybe I’m a little paranoid…but I doubt that I’ll be ordering cannolis at the San Gennaro Feast in Little Italy any time soon.

Me Being Saved By Clark Kent

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4 Responses to “The Italian Job”

  1. RB Says:

    Thank goodness you lived to write another post! As for yduj (is her name Judy? oops)… well, thank goodness for her, also.

  2. Bob Says:

    I think after all that, you need a vacation. I would avoid Italy and any country with mountainous roads that have “hairpin” turns.

  3. Ymmij W. Says:

    Can we really be sure that the third nearly fatal incident was an accident? Did you notice what that wave was wearing or anything particular about the way it “rolled” towards you? What did it say as it hit you? Those of us in the know have long suspected that they wouldn’t be able to catch all those lobsters without exercising a certain influence over the tides . . .

  4. Rob Says:

    Harrowing! (Especially the part about almost needing to ask for “a hug” from a stranger.)

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