November 26, 2007

Naked near-death experience

I recently almost died, literally, as a result of two things: modesty and multitasking.

(Can't you tell already that this is going to be a good post? I promise that it will be full of all your favorite things, including but not limited to nudity, food, and medical emergencies.)

It was Saturday afternoon. I had gone to the gym and spent too much time there, and had a date that evening. As I got into my car from the gym, the planning began.

There were many things I needed to get done in very little time in order to not be late for said date. These things included eating, showering, and dancing around naked while figuring out what to wear and getting appropriately pumped up, among others. It struck me, then, that there simply wasn't time for it all.

Here's how the math went:

Eat: 20 minutes
Shower: 10 minutes
Dancing, etc.: 55 minutes, at least

I had, say, 30 minutes total to work with.

Clearly, something had to go. Showering was a must-do, as this was a "likely to kiss" date, meaning sweatiness, even properly dried and coiffed, was a big no-no. Which left only one place to scrimp: food. (Clearly, the dancing is key to both my personality and my consistently smashing track record on dates. Let's just say I should teach a course on how to get boys to love you. I'm that dangerous. Ask me how to get them to not be complete douchebags, however, and I stare dumbly at you, for I do not have those answers.)

All the calculations done in my head on the drive home from the gym, I arrived at my abode a veritable whirlwind of activity.

I recall mild surprise that nobody was home, in our huge 4 bedroom house, when I arrived. As I stepped from the garage to the house, I pulled off my shoes and socks. Barefoot, I then raced to the stairs, and in doing so I passed the kitchen, where a bag of tortilla chips sitting on the counter caught my eye. Starving but still committed to my hurry, I snagged three chips from the bag and continued upstairs, into my bedroom and personal bathroom (I have the master bedroom in my house).

I put the chips down on the counter and turned the shower water on. As I waited for it to get warm, I stripped down and ate two of the chips, quickly. (Pleas spare me the lecture on how gross you think it is to put chips down on a bathroom counter -- it's my personal bathroom and is, therefore, clean as a whistle).

Sticking a hand into the stream, I determined it was nearly warm enough for me to enter. Grabbing the last chip and popping it, whole, into my mouth, I slid the door open again and went to step in.

And suddenly my eyes were starry, my heart rate was racing and I couldn't breathe.

In my haste to finish the chip before getting into the shower, or perhaps my inattention to it as I multitasked, I was choking.

On a tortilla chip.

In the shower.


Swallowing hard, tears now streaming down my face, I flung the shower door open and frantically tried to cough. Nothing. I pawed at my throat, and tried the "finger sweep" move in my mouth -- but it was too far down for me to reach.

Having no gag reflex to speak of, forced puking was impossible. Suddenly I recalled seventh grade health, where we learned to administer to others, and ourselves, the heimlich maneuver.

This involved locating a corner of something (table, chair, etc.) and ramming your stomach area, right below your ribs, into it. Simple enough.

Eureka! I thought. I'm saved!

And then I tried it on the corner of my bathroom counter.

Remember, I am still naked as a jaybird, and a bathroom counter is typically sharp-cornered and fake-formica-topped. I jabbed myself about twice before I determined that there was only one thing worse than suffocating to death on a potato chip: heimliching yourself, naked, on a hard tile bathroom counter corner.

Now I'm really starting to panick. I'm only getting a tiny amount of air around this chip, and it's starting to get worse, not better. I realize this is a situation that has just taken a turn for the dangerously worse for me.

Realizing I can't heimlich myself hard enough to dislodge the chip without first puncturing my abdomen, I think about other corners in the house. Downstairs there were plenty -- chairs with round backs, rounded tables, even a bannister that would have worked. Surely that would projectile the stubborn little chip out of my airway and save me. Or I could run across the street to a neighbor's door and fall, gasping, on their doorstep for help!

Except one thing -- I was naked. As a jaybird.

And there was no effing way I was running downstairs, home alone or not, to throw myself on a counter corner, or at the doorstep of a neighbor.

No WAY, dying or not, that I was going to do that.

At this point, my vision is blurring and I am quite convinced that I am about to kick the can. I am now back in my bathroom, standing with my head between my legs, starry-eyed, light headed, and about to go down from lack of oxygen when the irony of the situation hits me:

I lived for 2 years absolutely alone in an apartment, and never once did I choke or get into a life-threatening situation. But the moment I moved into a huge house with 3 roommates, I choke on a potato chip while naked and home alone because I'm multitasking, and because of a sudden stroke of modesty and a low tolerance for pain, I was going to die, naked, on the floor of my bathroom, with the shower running, and a potato chip lodged firmly in my throat.

Fuck! I thought. I haven't even gotten married, reached my sexual peak or worn that green dress yet!

And really, is there a more embarassing thing for your family to have to tell your bereaved than "Yeah, she died of, um, well, a potato chip... naked... in the shower"? It rivals Elvis Presley!

And just when I am getting to the part in the grisly fantasy where my body is discovered, something shifts.

Perhaps it was all the spit and tears, perhaps it was the 150 percent humidity in my now steaming-hot bathroom, but something softened the chip.

It slid sideways, and with a grimace and some scraping, I was able to finally swallow it and take my first full breath of air in more than a minute or two.

I've learned a valuable lesson or two from this experience:

1. Chips are my arch nemesis, second only to the Giant and Collossal Squids
2. The gym can save your life, and I don't mean because it makes you healthy (if I weren't a tiny bit worried about what was going to jiggle and what wasn't, I'd have run out in the street naked and choking, I'm pretty sure.)
3. If anyone ever tells me they gave themselves the heimlich, I will unabashedly point and yell "LIAR!!" because I've tried, and it's just not possible.


Oh, the date went fine. I was only 5 minutes late. And I still managed to shower and dance (more so, even, than usual -- as I'd just survived a near-death experience).

And there was kissing, but no chips.