I saw Claudine at the soccer game and cornered her. “You have to talk me down,” I said. “I need to get some perspective. I’m a wreck.”
I went on to tell about the popcorn hull that might be stuck in my throat. I told the story chronologically and in real time, beginning with the bowl of popcorn I’d eaten Friday at 2 pm.
I told her about how my little tricks didn’t work: eating a bagel, slurping down honey, hot tea, cold soda. Nothing was dislodging it.
Claudine was more interested in the popcorn itself. “So, when you say you’re a popcorn addict, what exactly do you mean?”
“I eat it every day,” I said.
“For how long?”
“At least a year.”
“Every single day?”
“Pretty much.”She’s taking all this in as I continue my hypochondriacal tale of woe, which includes the doctor’s appointment I just made with Dr. K’s associate (my beloved Dr. K being on vacation) and my fear of needing emergency throat surgery to extract the clingy little hull. But also included the pesky fact that I’m not even sure if I still feel the thing anymore. My throat feels still feels odd, but the popcorn may have passed.
“How much do you eat?” she asked.
“I eat it every day,” I repeated.
“No, I mean, how much do you eat when you eat it.”
“What, two cups? Five cups?”
She was asking this less to determine the extent of my addiction, than to assess how many Weight Watcher Points I squander on popcorn each day.
“I eat a vat of popcorn daily. I take a big bowl – big enough to contain all the other food I eat in the entire day – and I fill it with popcorn.” This confession got the attention of the man sitting on the other side of her. Claudine just nodded. She began doing some mental math.
“How much do you take for that?” she asked.
That’s Weight Watcher Talk. I’m not even offended that she’s less interested in my impending tracheotomy than my Points Balance. We’re always trying to find new ways to stave off hunger, we Weight Watchers.
“Two points,” I said, and continued my story, fashioning my hand into the shape of a clinging popcorn hull and mimicking how it probably latched onto the interior of my throat, never to be pried off.
From throats we started talking about lungs and she mentioned how her 9-year-old seems like he’s having a relapse from his bout of pneumonia in August. The doctor checked him and his x-rays are clear, but there’s still that unexplained crackling on his right side.
And just like that, I shut up about my popcorn.