Saturday, January 24, 2009


Just wanted to say "Thanks" for all the well wishes. It was really just a minor procedure, but one that needed to be done, and I put it off longer than I really should have. When I get the results, I'll let you all know.

But please, if you have colon or prostate cancer in your family, get yourself to a doctor for a colonoscopy. Early detection is the best way to beat this disease, or a colostomy bag, or a casket. And the procedure was totally painless (just the prep was a little gross). My grandmother and two uncles might be alive today if they had heeded that advise.

And if you're looking for a charity to give to, one good one would be the American Cancer Society. There is so much more that we can accomplish.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My In "Auger" ation

The puns from family and co-workers came fast and furious. "Let me know how everything comes out". "It's gonna be a shitty day, isn't it?" I just rolled my eyes and went on. Although I did come up with the little bon mot in the title.

Anyways, what everyone told me about the procedure was true. The prep the day before is way worse than the procedure itself. First, you must stop eating by mid-night the night before. Then, at 1:00 pm, you must down a 10oz bottle of Magnesium Citrate, a laxative. The label says your first "movement will be in 1/2 to 6 hours later". I took two cringe inducing swigs (Yech, yeah right that's lemon-lime). Then remembered that I was about out of cigs. Crap (ha ha). Well, I threw on my coat and walked to the nearby Winn-Dixie and got a couple of magazines too. Stupid me bought a food magazine. Do not buy a food magazine if you're going 24+ hours without food. Then, I came back (rather quickly) to finish off the Magnesium Citrate.

Next, at 5:00 pm you start drinking a gallon of this stuff that has the consistency of anti-freeze. Thick, gelatinous, and gag-inducing. One glass every 15 minutes until you drink it all. That was one of the hardest things that I've had to do in my life. You hold your breath and down it all as quickly as possible, like you're doing a beer bong.

I drank that crap along with some jello and water and nothing else. I can now empathize with Ethiopian kids (I kid). Really, hunger is not something to make fun of. Friends and family make fun of it, but they've all been there, most of them, anyways.

So, I show up bright and early at the endoscopy center with my chauffeur (Dad). The folks are all friendly and shit and show me to the changing room. There, I find my medical wardrobe and it ties in the back, along with some cute baby-blue sock thingys. Did I mention that it's about 35 degrees outside and not much warmer in the "pre-procedure" area. They will not have a problem with my "junk" getting in the way. Nor will I be getting any date invitations.

Next, in the pre-procedure room, a woman with a heavy lisp inserts my intra-veneous line while we sit there watching the pre-inauguration ceremony. I get to hear more southern, conservative invective regarding the new President. I think that's where I come up with the hilarious "In 'Auger' ation" phrase. And this is before the drugs. And my feet are cold, even with the nifty little socks with the rubber designs on the soles (still got them, don't know if I'll ever wear them again, but I paid for them anyways, damn it!). I'm ready to be put under, please, now.

Minutes later, I'm directed to the "Procedure Room" (PC). Funny how they always call it a "Procedure". Not a "Reaming", or something with "Herschey" in the title, always a "Procedure". All nice and calm and peaceful-like, like you're having your teeth cleaned, or your manicure done. Only more invasive.

We're now in the PC, and I'm placed on my back while the technician connects the E.C.G. lines to the three pods on my hairy chest (that will hurt like Hell upon removal). They put a nice comfy blanket across my legs to get me all cozy and shit and talk all nice and friendly and shit. The nice technician puts that little thing in my nostrils with the oxygen. They ask me to lay on my left side 'Oh, God, here we go'. The Anesthetist tells me (while hands re-arrange my pretty robe) that I won't feel anything within around 30 seconds while pushing the plunger into my I.V. He lied. I was out within 2 seconds of the drugs entering my I.V. Oh, thank you, God and the drug manufacturers.

Next thing I know, someone is saying "Good Morning, Sunshine". I awake actually feeling pretty good. Really, I felt better than before I went in. I looked across the room and actually said, "Good Morning, ladies!" They make good drugs nowadays, and they're legal, too. They could make a killing off of this stuff.

Now, I knew from other people that the nurses would be expecting me to fart a good one before they would release me. But, honestly, I didn't feel bloated at all, and I told the nurse that. "Yeah, you've already performed for us, so if you don't feel bloated, you should be fine." I guess I got lucky and got Henny Youngman's granddaughter for a post-op nurse.

Now, I've never been a "bottom" (If you know what I mean). And I didn't feel violated at all. I felt no difference, period, except that I felt "good". They must have put a little THC in those drugs is all that I can think of. I'll have to ask on my next visit what kind of lube they use.

The nurse helped me get dressed. Actually, she insisted that she put on my underwear (up to my knees) and my socks and shoes, so that I wouldn't have to bend over and get woozy. I finished dressing and she put me in a wheelchair (hospital rules) and rolled me to a room to await the final reckoning from the butt-doctor. I kinda had flashbacks of my grandpa in the Nursing Home *shivver*.

After waiting in the small waiting-room and critiquing the color scheme and furnishings for 15 minutes, the butt-doctor finally came in. He said that everything went well, in his opinion. They found "several, three or so" polyps that didn't look 'meaningful', yadda, yadda" and that we would have the results in three weeks or so. "Don't worry, I didn't see anything to worry about".

So, we'll see. Does he tell everyone that? I'm not terribly worried, but you never know.

I do know that breakfast with my dad at the IHOP on the way home was one of the best breakfasts that I've had in quite a while. Starving yourself for 30+ hours will do that. Even if the waitress was mediocre, and it was, you know, IHOP.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The "Invasion" Cometh

This Tuesday, an "invasion" is coming. No, it's not what you're thinking. It's not all about Obama. This is a little more...shall we say... "personal".

I'm having my first colonoscopy Tuesday morning. I've put it off long enough. And with my family history, way overdue. But, still. Really.

On my mom's side of the family, cancer, especially colon cancer amongst the men, has run amok. My Grandmother died of cancer at the age of 42. They couldn't pinpoint the source of the first out-break, because when they first opened her up, it was wide spread.

It took a while before another instance manifested itself. My Grandfather died some 20 or so years later from throat cancer.

Not long after, my Mom (the oldest of 7), had a few lumps removed, but none turned out to be malignant, and all breathed a sigh of relief. Then, the report around 8 or 9 years ago that the oldest son had colon cancer. He gave it quite a go until it stopped responding to treatment, we all rallied around him, and visited him while he was still alive. We all chose to visit him at his summer campground while he was alive and not to be there for his funeral. It turned out to be a wise choice all around.

Just a couple years later, the youngest of the 7 reported that he had a suspicious colonoscopy. Now, this uncle is 4 years younger than me (go figure). We were all shocked and dismayed. Especially when he told us that he had some symptoms for a while. Well, he beat it once, but it came back. He is now on his last months or weeks. And I decided that I need to take this seriously.

On Tuesday, Inauguration Day, I will be invaded, pillaged, viewed as no one has ever seen me before. I have my gallon of clean-out fluid chillin' in the fridge, my jello, some Gatorade (low-calorie, for sure), bouillon, and all those clear fluids ready to go. Today, I'm gonna enjoy my Captain and Diet and a pizza. Tomorrow, I'm leaving work at noon so that I can down the magnesium citrate and then the Mr. Drano that is chilling in the fridge.

I know my genes are mostly from my dad's side of the family, since I look like his younger brother. That side is fair-haired and light-skinned with freckles. My dad's is dark hair and tan-friendly skin. I only hope that those genes that decide cancer never crossed through when the sperm hit egg. Funny that I was always jealous of that side of the family for being "prettier". I always wanted my mom's strawberry-blond hair.

With my dad's genes, I only have to worry about Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and heart disease. What a relief that will be.

Now, my thoughts turn to esoteric things. Will the doctor make a comment about my 'tush'? Should I trim the shrubbery? Did they buy Chinese lube to save a few bucks? Will it be so cold in the room that shrinkage will be a concern (how would I live that down?) Will I shout out "Ooh, you're so hot, Mr. Baldwin!" while under the influence?

I'll try to let you know on Tuesday night how it all goes.

Friday, January 16, 2009

New Cookie Recipe Next Time

Next time, I will give ya'll my aunt/sister's recipe for Cranberry Hootycreeks. I don't know where the name came from, but the cookies are fantabulous!

There's Cold, And Then There's Frigid.

Wow, what a cold wave. We were seduced by the mild winter we started with. Of course, this is only the third winter I've had here in the panhandle of Florida (Not counting my 2-year excursion to South Florida, which I choose to forget) . This cold snap is severe, but I keep telling people, "Oh, it could be so much worse!". I've not had to scrape ice off of my windshield. I've worn my "as-new" gloves twice so far (I had to dig them out of a box after being stored for 4 years).

I lived for 16 years in the northern suburbs of Michigan. Then one year on Long Island, two and a half years in Massachusetts. That was it. On to Florida. I may be in the northern reaches of Florida, but I talked to my aunt/sister in New Hampshire an hour ago (16 below zero) , and I don't miss it at all. I miss her, but not the weather. Or the shoveling. Or the windshield scraping. Or the crusty, frozen beard and nose hairs while you're shoveling a foot of snow off of your car.

People down here complain about the cold. I laugh in their faces! They do not know what they are missing. The difference between cold and frigid is immeasurable. Keep your fall color tours. Brag about your 'change of seasons'. Been there, done that. Never gonna do it again. The gulf coast is as far "North" as I'll ever live again. I bet Restaurant Gal isn't missing it at all now, either.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Times are Tough in Restaurantland

It's been a rough couple of months here in the Panhandle for the restaurant industry. Sure, the economy sucks everywhere right now, but it seems to be hitting here extremely hard. This area that I live in and work in is ranked towards the bottom of all Florida counties. We probably have more in common with Alabama then we do with Florida (A lot of people here sarcastically call it "L.A.", short for Lower Alabama). So when Florida coughs, we catch pneumonia, and it's approaching double-pneumonia status.

Within the last few months, there's been a slew of places going belly up. Mostly, it's been the independent places, but there was a Bennigan's and Steak and Ale that closed. Some of the closings were expected, since even in good times some people just shouldn't be in the business, period. They've been scratching and surviving by the skin of their teeth.

One closing that hit hardest was one that I worked closely with. It's name was Varona's, and it was a Cuban restaurant that was to be a high-class Cuban restaurant. My boss got me involved because I am considered the "smallwares expert". For most of my tenure at Macaroni Grill, I was chosen to be the smallwares orderer. For one, I'm a cheap ass. Second, even though I'm frugal, the Front of the House should never be short on plates, silverware, etc. One of my worst headaches as a server (millenia ago, I know!), is running around plucking wine glasses off of tables so that I can get a glass of wine to a new table.

Well, for this new Cuban restaurant, I was given the task of choosing all of the china, glassware, and silverware to present to the owner of Varona's. He liked everything that I picked, and I took it to heart that I just may know what I'm doing. The owner plowed a lot of money into his place: marble floors, beautiful and large bar, custom tables (only to be covered by white linen), gorgeous rattan furniture for the waiting area, and a great location close to the airport.

Well, the idea was good, but the execution was not what this area (Nascar-loving, beer-drinking, Conservative-leaning, mullet-wearing rednecks) was expecting. I guess it really didn't help that the people who were experienced in this type of food weren't prepared to pay $15 or more for what is really Cuban "peasant food". Although they offered good steaks and a decent wine list, those looking for authentic Cuban food didn't want to pay to eat it in a fine-dining atmosphere.

Along with this disappointment, there was the closing of EAT!. The chef, Lee Lucier, kinda started to become known regionally and even was on the Today Show and Dinner Impossible with Robert Irvine on the Food Network. Chef Lee was a character who I had the pleasure of sharing a dim view of one of my bosses. Unfortunately, he was a "big-city chef" in a drink-water town. I hear he's now in the Myrtle Beach area, I don't know. I only know, he had a dry, sarcastic, and fully hilarious sense of humor. The guy who bought him out 8 months ago went out of business last month.

All in all, those restaurateurs with no knowledge and teetering on the edge have been forced out. Those who stick to what they know and do it well persevere. There are rumors swirling about of establishments that are going down. I don't believe everything I hear. I speak regularly with those who are in the know, and my radar knows who is trying to blow smoke up my ass. There will be more that will close, that's for sure. But, I hope the owners that put in hard sweat equity, those that are honorable, those that treat their employees (and me) fairly and with good humor, will survive. People will not suddenly start to cook all their meals at home, that's a given. They're just looking for good food, fairly priced, with good service.

I call it survival of the fittest.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Virus Free? We Shall See.

My last post was a short and quick little missive. At the time, I really didn't know how f'd up my computer was. It turns out that the phrase is 'totally f'd, but not terminal'. $70 dollars of software that didn't help much, but increased my memory, was the first step. Later, not knowing what to do, I prayed to the god "Google". I entered the words uninstall Windows Antivirus 2009. You see, everytime that I picked a site on my favorites, a big, scary window would pop up saying that this site contained spyware, viruses, etc. Now I know to always hit that little 'x' up in the right hand corner and not hit the 'NO' button. Windows Antivirus 2009 is a bitch. It you hit 'NO', it installs anyway. DO NOT DO THIS!

Anyways, Google pointed me to a website called StopZilla. For $9.95, it got rid of the dreaded Windows Antivirus 2009 that the $70 software would not. And now, I can continue to write on Beentheredonethat with no interruptions.

Tune in tomorrow to see what's been happening.