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What I did on my fall(ing) vacation

AMbu275 As long as I can remember, I've fought hard against the odds -- uphill, wind in my face, lacking necessary God-given talent tools and/or budget -- to be The Guy.

I longed to be the center of attention, the guy all eyes gravitated to first as a radio DJ, then as a TV news reporter/anchor, a stand-up comedian (let's not go there) and film critic, which actually worked out pretty well.

I finally reached that coveted center-stage point over the weekend in a tiny Texas coastal town.

But I never wanted to be this guy.

It's 4:30 in the morning.  I'm coming out of a blackout fog on a cold condo bathroom floor with loved ones and a complete stranger staring down at me.

Holy crap!  Is that a defibrillator?

But wait, let's flash back a little like they do in the movies.

My wife Suellen and I look forward with great anticipation to our rare chances to get away to the beach.  We don't own a condo.  We will, though, just as soon as our lottery numbers cooperate.

So we rent.  And we love it.  Last weekend's trip began like many of the others.  Relatives and friends would join us at the beach.  We would gather for coffee and chats in the morning, dig our toes into the sun-kissed sand during the day as the seagulls circled low overhead and toast the good life once the sun went down.

But we -- and when I say we I really mean I -- ventured, as they say in the movies, "off-script" this time.  I've been dieting, as some of you and this region's perplexed Blue Bell ice cream distributor know.

My calorie count has been low (too low you are about to discover).  And I've been pushing myself physically playing tennis (which I recently rediscovered that I really enjoy) in the hot sun without adequate hydration. Played a rousing game of "rediscover tennis" with the family that very morning, in fact.

Distill all that with a libation or two to celebrate good times, the moon shining brilliantly on the Gulf water and the fact that the Texas Rangers had clinched the American League West division championship earlier in the day and around 4:30 a.m. we get these buzzwords:

Cramp.  LEG CRAMP!  Now in both legs!  "Ow, ow, ow, OW!"

"Got to get to the bathroom."


(That's the sound of yours truly blacking out and collapsing in a clump on the living room floor; un-carpeted of course.)

Panic.  (That would be Suellen as she comes to my rescue.)

In the bathroom now.

Splat again.

(My best description of collapse No. 2 brought back thoughts of the late Howard Cosell's call when George Foreman belted Joe Frazier to the mat in the first round of the 1973 world heavyweight boxing championship in Kingston, Jamaica:  "Down goes Frazier!  Down goes Frazier!")

Serious panic now.

(Suellen makes frantic call to daughter Lisa and son-in-law Johnny, who are two floors down.)

I'm up.  Johnny, a medical research scientist working on a cure for cancer, slums a little and checks me out.  He says my pulse is low.

"I think I'm fine now."

Splat -- the trifecta.

Now we're back to real time.  The paramedics have arrived. 

Actually it's just one paramedic, a nice young lady with slurred speech.  I'm told later she must have recently gotten her tongue pierced.  Presumably, it was on purpose.

"My partner's downthairs throwing up," she casually announces.

Still, she does a very capable job of hooking up my EKG, checking my pulse (Yep, low) and pricking my finger for blood to check the glucose level (low there as well).  The good news:  I do not require the defibrillator.

Suddenly, two more paramedics appear.  One of the new arrivals, whose partner is not downstairs tossing his cookies or jumbo fried shrimp or whatever, appears extremely professional and caring.  Still that makes three paramedics.  I think the odd number is somehow throwing the universe off-kilter.  At least it is mine.

"Sorry, guys," I tell them, "You're not meeting me on my best day."

"We rarely meet people on their best days," the professional appearing one responds with rather exceptional comic timing. 

Full disclosure:  I'm kidding around with them to keep from being scared out of my wits.  When it's generally decided that I don't appear to be in immediate serious danger and can avoid taking a ride in their ambulance (with the puking guy driving), I relax a little.

"Your color ish coming back," the emergency responder with the trendy spike in her tongue says.

"That's good," I respond.

But I can't resist:

"What color am I?"

(Ambulance drawing courtesy:  fundraw.com)


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