(Originally posted March 20, 2007)
There I was, at a neighborhood Chinese restaurant enjoying my meal when suddenly, a man behind me started coughing with extreme force. The sheer volume and abruptness of it startled my hands into gripping the table’s edge. Once my sense of panic subsided, I started to laugh but managed to quickly stifle it. I went back to spearing tofu with my fork.
And then he coughed again, like the very essence of life was being expelled through his lungs. He coughed and coughed and coughed, hearty and resounding staccatos of sonic warfare. Feeling thankful that my back was mostly toward him, I turned even further away so that I was seemingly laughing at the wall. I’m sure it wasn’t obvious at all.
My whole body was quaking from trying to suppress the laughter, and I begged Henry to talk to me so I could pretend like I was laughing at him. He turned away and focused all of his attention on Chooch, leaving me alone, red-faced and choking on chortles.
They finally left a few minutes later and I let it all out.
“Oh my god, did you hear him?! It was so hysterical! Weren’t you afraid you were going to laugh since you were directly in the line of his coughing?” I asked Henry in between breathy laughs.
“Um, no, because he was choking. It wasn’t funny.” Then he did that thing where he closes his eyes and gives his Bo Brady-coiffed head a swift shake, and then chases it with a frustrated and exhausted exhale.
I couldn’t stop imagining what he must have looked like in the throes of his choking fit. Were his hands clasped around his neck? Was his tongue sticking out like it does to choking victims in cartoons? If I was his wife, I’d have booted him in the balls as a nice cherry on top.
“Did they see me laughing? Was his wife laughing at him, too?”
“No, because he was choking.” Henrywas choking too — on disgust.
This made it even more hilarious and I couldn’t stop laughing at all. Then I was jealous because Chooch got to stare at him through the whole thing because he’s a baby and babies get away with spying all the time.
I kept thinking about it the next day when I was driving and I had streams of mascara painting skinny banners of “Choking Is Funny!” down my cheeks.
Why do I have a feeling that I’m inevitably going to meet my demise by choking to death? I hope it’s at least on something exciting. Like a dick. (And not Henry’s. Someone who will gain me notoriety. “She died from choking on Carrot Top’s penis!” will be splayed all over the tabloids. And then I can only wish it will become a witty slogan for kids signing yearbooks. “Have a good summer! Don’t choke on Carrot Top’s dick and die like that one broad did!”)
Ed.Note: OK, that was almost three years ago and not only can I close my eyes and relive this exact moment, but the thought of that guy choking still makes me laugh so hard it hurts. Please tell me someone reading this knows what that’s like.