Many years ago, when we lived in Boston, Melissa and I used to go out to dinner occasionally. Most nights, we'd stay home and cook, but now and then, we'd go out.
Melissa had unbelievably bad luck at restaurants when it came to the second time visit. The first time we'd go to an eating establishment, she'd order something, it would come to the table and it would be great. Next time we'd go, she'd say to herself "Well, I should try something else, I don't want to get stuck in a rut." She'd order something that sounded good, but inevitably, it would show up to the table and she'd be disappointed.
She wasn't looking at the menu and saying "Oh, Shit on a Dirty Plate! That sounds good," and then feeling let down when the waiter walked up to our table, holding a dirty plate at arms length with a lump of shit rolling around on it. Or "Oh, Chicken Sushi! I'll try that!" She would order completely reasonable menu items that sounded good, but they would end up being…just…bad. Or at least, not as good as the thing that she'd had on that first visit.
Once, we went to a marginally fancy French restaurant, and Melissa ordered a steak. "Buf a Le Chateau Anglais" or something like that. What she got was, technically, a steak, but mainly a giant piece of gristle with some meat attached here and there. That one was so bad that she actually complained to the waiter, which is something she almost never does. The guy looked at it and said "Oh, that? That's marbling," and gave her a look down his nose like she didn't know what she was talking about.
Well, one night, at The Forest Cafe in Cambridge, Melissa's run of bad luck finally ended.
The Forest was a relatively dumpy restaurant near Harvard Square that served surprisingly above average Mexican food. Really pretty good stuff. We used to go there pretty often, and my dinners were always good, but even at the Forest, Melissa usually ended up a little dissatisfied.
Not that night.
No, that night, Melissa ordered a shredded chicken dish that was sort of half way between a stew and an enchilada, with roasted peppers, cilantro and lime…it smelled AMAZING. It LOOKED amazing! I'm not gonna lie, I snuck a little bit. It was amazing.
So, Melissa had her first mouthful, made a face that said "This is the greatest thing I have ever had in my mouth" (get your mind out of the gutter) and said to me, mouth still half full of ambrosia "My GOD. This is so…so…GOOD!"
Then she gave a sort of concerned look and said "Hey, what's wrong with your neck?"
"Your neck. Right there," she said, pointing to the left side of my neck with a forkful of what was about to be the second mouthful of the single best meal she had ever been served in a restaurant.
So, I reached up to feel my neck, but about 4 inches before I got to where my neck normally starts, my hand bumped into something. Something that was soft. Something puffy. And that something was my neck.
My neck was puffing up like a bullfrog trying to get a date.
Puffing up like a helium filled balloon bought at a carnival, but that was destined to fly away from the toddler whose parent was foolish enough to not tie it to the kid's fucking wrist.
It was huge. Not just a little swollen. And it was getting bigger. Puffier. More Fred Flinstonesque with every passing second.
Melissa tried to eat, but she quickly realized that the best meal that she had ever been served was going to have to get packed up in a doggy bag so that she could escort her husband, the god damn Elephant Man, to the emergency room. The greatest culinary adventure upon which she had ever embarked was going to have to be cut short, to be microwaved at home, long after it had passed it's prime. All because of her husband's fucking puffy neck.
By the time we got to the hospital, my neck had reached maximum puffiness, and was actually starting to feel more hard than squishy. The nurses and doctors could see that I was in distress, and that I was about to pop like a pubescent teenager's whitehead, so they rushed me in to see a doctor right away. It only took about 2 hours.
Then we sat in a hospital room for a couple more hours until a nurse finally came in. She took one look at me, tried not to scream, and slowly backed out of the room. She came back with another nurse. They pointed, and whispered to one another.
"No, I've never seen anything like that either."
"Like a tick on an old hound dog."
"Really breathtakingly hideous, yes."
"I can't believe his wife can sit there and look at him."
Finally, a few doctors came in, looked at me, prodded me, asked me some questions, insulted me, then left.
Meanwhile, Melissa's food was getting cold. Cold and old.
Then one of the doctors, a young, burly and extremely tired looking man with an Eastern European accent came back in and talked to me.
"Your mouth. Open it."
"Well, okay but.."
That was all I managed to say before he slid his entire hand into my mouth and, from what I could tell by the way it felt, tried to break my jaw by wiggling his hand in parts of my mouth that I really didn't even know existed.
After he had had his way with me, he removed himself from my mouth, got out a towel and dried off his forearm and bicep. I wistfully wondered if I'd ever see him again. He didn't even buy me flowers.
"Lemon keyandy. You eat."
"Lemon drops. Lemonheads."
Apparently, my salivary duct had gotten blocked somehow, and Melissa's food was so amazing that my salivary gland was cranking out the saliva at full speed. Having no way to get out, it was puffing me up like a goiter on the neck of a semi-naked Walmart shopper.
The half baked solution, evidently, was to make me salivate even MORE, so that the blockage would be overcome by the pressure created by the sheer volume of pent up spittle. A slobber Mount Vesuvius, if you will.
I was somewhat doubtful about this.
"Won't I…you know…explode?"
"Did… did you just say 'nyet'?"
"'Cause I thought I heard you say 'nyet'."
"You will probably not explode."
Suitably reassured, off to the Store 24 we went, with Melissa's ice cold doggy bag in tow, to buy some lemon keyandy.
I ate it.
Somewhat disappointingly, there was NOT a spectacular eruption of drool. My neck, which by now had started to look like I had tried, unsuccessfully, to swallow a large grapefruit whole, just sort of deflated. No pop, no nothing. I did nyet explode.
Back home, Melissa microwaved her leftovers, but the magic, like my giant neck ball, was gone.