Monday, July 22, 2013

Midol ... For Men?

Drinking coffee shortly before indulging in a big meal is never the brightest of ideas. Prior to the first Hardcore Norfolk open-mic night in 2011, I slurped three cups of the sugar- laden bean soup at Elliot's Fair Grounds. Less than thirty minutes later, I took the bait of fish planks, fries and cole slaw at Colley Cantina. The rumble of punk, garage and other noise from CC's "stage" hooked me like a 1,000-pound blue marlin, but the growls emitting from my queasy stomach forecasted possible waves of Technicolor yawn washing ashore. Over time, slow sips of icy water helped with the sea change and averted a man-made disaster. Thank goodness for the restoration of calm, since the Cantina's toilet-in-a-closet arrangement isn't exactly bathroom-friendly to weary travelers.

Three weeks ago (7/4/2013), I carelessly installed another dim light bulb. Upon passing thru the Thornton Estate's gated entrance door, my first order of business was shaking hands with a filled coffee mug. I'd been the first person to arrive at two earlier Labor Day gatherings, but a dozen or so hungry folks were awaiting the hot dogs and hamburgers already grilling per initial greetings. Because the temperature was in the expected 90-degree range, I limited myself to one cup of java before switching to the more sensible choice of sweetened iced tea. The cooler beverage option paired very nicely with the delicious Carolina-style BBQ and slaw, which was the only thing scooped onto my plate all day. Sure, the multiple bowls of pasta salad dotting the inside table nearly kissed my spoon, but I decided to employ a single-minded consumption strategy. Over mounds of irresistible pork perfection, Matt, Henry, Rebecca, Vic, Teddy and others joined me in roundtable discussions regarding bee/wasp stings, shrimp and grits, the AMC Pacer, bootleg recordings from local bands, long-gone grocery stores and my virtual T-shirt collection. In the midst of a fourth or fifth BBQ helping, I began to feel turbulence via nausea, dehydration, fatigue and inattentiveness. Staring inside the oval office, I expelled a gagging sound but failed to imitate George Bush's infamous vomitive vision in Japan. If the Cantina storm had been graded, it would've received an F3. The Thornton twister's mark? A full-on F5. I needed Helen Hunt to pilot a big chopper over the Sharknado swirling inside me and drop a powerful bomb thru the funnel. Luckily, I had off-screen ground support from a friend with an atypical remedy.

Reaching into her portable medicine chest, "Nurse" Laura Reyes placed two Midol Complete caplets in my hand and instructed me to wait twenty minutes for a possible third pill. Naturally, I had concerns about ingesting a tablet marketed exclusively to combat "women's issues." In a current ad campaign, two lovelies fashioning light-blue Midol lab coats tell an overworked, suffering waitress: "Because you deserve better." Any balding, grease-stained males with equally pounding headaches are left to sweat in a crowded kitchen. Despite this evidence, Laura insisted that the drug is safe for men to use and wouldn't alter my voice in a higher pitch. Debating wasn't going to improve my condition, so I swallowed both Midol Completes with a generous swig of Deer Park water and waited for the unintentional breast enlargement.

Perched in a chair near the salad table, I stared aimlessly at the spread and pondered a drastic change in eating habits from that moment onward. Early in the recovery stage, I lacked the energy to talk, laugh or care about anything in the world. Five minutes after downing the pills, Laura came inside to check on my status and gave me a gentle embrace. Coupled with the Midol, the sweet gesture began sledge-hammering my brick walls in earnest. "Ralph" no longer wanted to cover the floor's canvas in a spontaneous art exhibit. Dry mouth finally dove into the refreshing pool. A team of one searched in vain for cornhole bags. Jason Thornton's enthusiasm for baseball and Kenny Loggins' soundtrack hits was matched by mine. I almost ate another plate of BBQ.

OK, that last one's a lie, but Mr. Blah tasted a TKO when Midol Complete stepped in the square circle. Truth.

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