Peanut Butter & Carmina Burana Don't Mix
Death by peanut butter? Well, not quite. Not quite death. More like: the threat of death. And not quite by peanut butter. More like: by stupidity. Although, yes, peanut butter did play a part. A big part. A part about as big as the inner circumference of one's throat, to be precise.n
There are some things that don't mix. Oil and water, for instance. Vinegar and sodium bicarbonate. Drinking and driving. Republicans and deep thought. And so on. And especially two things that relate to the topic at hand.
Peanut butter is one of them.
Marijuana is the other.
This was years ago, of course, back when I would still occasionally indulge in such foul, heinous, society-crippling substances. Oh my, yes -- years ago. And I guess I should have known better; I should have more thoroughly bought into the lame, ill-reasoned, federally sponsored diatribes against such relatively harmless -- I mean, diabolical -- pastimes. But I was young and morally ill-kempt back then -- still smack dab in the throes of a chaotically misspent youth, that time of life in which innocence is, as they say, the devil's soup du jour.
I couldn't have been any older than 33, for chrissakes.
I was alone in my studio apartment in Clarksville. The lights were off, only the faintest threads of twilight breaching the horizontal Maginot of mini-blinds at my single, eastern window. The Leonard Slatkin version of Orff's Carmina Burana was in the CD player, thundering like a horde of benzedrined heresiarchs against the walls of my meager hovel. And something else, too. Something important. What was it again? Oh yes --
I was stoned to the gills.
There'd been some major harvest south of the border, a friend had confided before sharing the contents of his Glad-Lok baggie. A good year for a certain subset of Mexican agriculture, a bumper crop of verdant friendlies with the smartest ensemble of little red hairs that you ever did see. The kind of shit, my large-pupiled comrade had declaimed, that put the "RAH" in tetRAHydrocannibinol.
And, boy, was I wasted. I'd gotten past the point where the floor and walls seem to shift and time stretches out like the slowest parts of Barry Lyndon. I'd gotten past the point where I was looking intensely at my hand. I'd gotten to the point, in fact, where my hand was looking intensely at me -- and winking.
And then the munchies kicked in.
It was partly the music's fault. I'm not a stickler for organic farming or anything like that, and just because something hasn't been irradiated doesn't necessarily make my mouth water more. But Orff's Burana had reached the part where the Latin words always sound, to my monoglot ears, like someone excitedly shouting "Sun Harvest! Sun Harvest! Sun Harvest!" And I thought of the few times I'd been in that vast grocery store, browsing the freshly heaped and gleaming produce, scoping the leanest cuts of steak in the meat section, inhaling the pure atmosphere of baked goods and chocolate -- and suddenly it was like, "Uh, Dr. Pavlov? I think we're gonna need a bigger mop."
Or it would've been like that, anyway, except for the terrible cottonmouth.
I glanced at my pet scorpion, Caligula, as he skulked through the shadows in his well-appointed terrarium. Briefly wondered what a specimen of pandinus would taste like, slowly roasted. Realized that such thoughts were, at best, counterproductive.
So I hied me hence to the cupboard. Which, contrary to what you may have heard on the street about some cupboards, was not bare. There was, inside, a vast multitude of groceries awaiting my pleasure. There was a veritable smorgasbord of gustatory possibilities, an entire three-ring circus of gourmet delights, a kitchen kornucopia of kulinary komestibles. Well, no. Not really, not at all. But there was peanut butter. Half a jar of peanut butter.
I pulled the cutlery drawer open and, after watching the way the bits of stainless steel seemed to scintillate even in the mimsy shadows of the kitchenette, as if the utensils were somehow alive, as if they, like my hand, were winking -- After an eternity of watching this, I picked out the biggest spoon I could find and shoved it deep into the tan and creamy spread. Scooped out an enormous glob of peanut butter and proceeded to stick the whole thing in my mouth. Stumbled back into the living room and attempted to masticate. Stood in the darkness and the music -- masticating rather well, under the circumstances, I thought -- and attempted to swallow.
It was here that I got stuck. Or, rather, the peanut butter did.
Suddenly, my throat was blocked. My windpipe was shut off. Totally. Oh my God, I couldn't breathe at all!
I tried moving the peanut butter out of the air passage with my tongue, flailing that oral limb as if in divine glossolalia, but it was useless, there was too much to deal with: It was like trying to shovel cement with a flexi-straw. I began to panic. I suppose I could've figured out that it was simply a matter of breathing through one's nose, at this point -- but I was stoned, remember? And losing my shit, bigtime.
The apartment was dark, the walls were shifting like obsolete paradigms, the debauched monks were shrieking, "Sun Harvest! Sun Harvest! Sun Harvest!" And I could see, in my mind's eye as I stood helpless in the middle of the living room, the headline of tomorrow's paper: "Local Idiot Chokes to Death on Peanut Butter, Leaves Daughter and Pet Scorpion to a Fatherless Existence." And the accompanying sub-head, "Music of Carl Orff Possible Cause of Bizarre Tragedy."
I staggered, bouncing off a wall or two, to the kitchen sink. Slammed the water on, shoved my mouth around the faucet and sucked in as much H2O as quickly as I could. I gagged, hacked, spit, retched, literally dug into my mouth with both hands, and scraped out thick, dripping clots of peanut butter. I fought like a madman to reclaim my thwarted life.
And, finally, was able to breathe again.
The Carmina Burana moved into the "O Fortuna" section.
I thanked my lucky stars.
So, listen up, you kids.You whippersnappers. Especially you, Angelica, daughter o' mine:
I can't conscientiously advise more than caution with regards to drugs in general. I'll be the first to admit that. I'm no expert, after all, and I don't have that much experience. But there's marijuana and there's peanut butter. And I want you to just say no?
To at least one of them.