"Americans used to say where there's a will, there's a way. Nowadays, it's where there's a pill, there's a way out." - - Burnt Toast

Hold The Hemoglobin. . .

This was lunch yesterday:

A deliciously prepared shrimp po-boy that reminds me of a past event that Nils and I shared together a couple of years ago.

Nils came to visit for a few days and of course no visit from Nils is complete without hammering down several green bottles of Heineken followed by the other green bottle of choice, Jagermeister.

After waking up on the floor in a pool of sweat/alcohol, I realized that I was nearly late for a concrete placement on a bridge way out in nowhere Lincoln County. After suffering through several hours of painful noise, hard labor, and summertime heat, Nils and I finally made our way back to Brookhaven and decided to stop in a locally owned joint for a shrimp po-boy.

The place, which is no longer open, sits in an a-frame building right off Highway 84 and I have eaten there in the past with nothing to complain about.

Nils and I ordered our sandwiches, sides of homemade potato salad and iced tea. Then we waited. And waited. And waited. And we waited some more. And when we weren't waiting, we were waiting again.

Finally, the cook appeared from the kitchen with our sandwiches and salads nicely bagged up, and our bad heads and stomachs were feeling grateful that we were about to be fed. That is until I observed the cook and the fresh, gaping slash just above her elbow!

I looked at Nils and hoped he didn't notice, because after years of knowing and cooking with him, I know that he has peculiar standards when it comes to hygiene in the kitchen. I'll never forget the day we walked into my kitchen in Costa Rica where we found my cook, Maria, prepping vegetables with a paring knife while chatting with the young dishwasher Hannia. Every now and then Maria would stop cutting vegetables and reach up with the tip of the paring knife to scratch an itchy spot on her head. The look of his face said it all, but his words carried more weight as he exclaimed in Spanglish, "Que fucking estas haciendo Maria?"

So, we had a chat about hygiene with a woman who lived in a dirt floor shack, who probably didn't own a refrigerator, much less owning an understanding of the tiny world of microbes that can cause illness and even death.

It was almost like trying to explain the possibility of life on other planets, which is another concept they could not grasp. I am sure they thought we were kidding on both counts, but the face of Nils spoke volumes and Maria and Hannia understood the gravity of the situation as they grappled with the incredible theorems of microbiology.

The cook in the po-boy restaurant passed off our food as I took another look at Nils. Surely he didn't see the blood. I was willing to chance it as it looked as if the blood was localized to her arm and I have been cut to pieces a time or two in my cooking career, so I know the game.

We exited to the truck and sat for moment until Nils finally spoke.

"Did you perhaps see the gaping fucking hole on that woman's arm?"

I explained that indeed I did, and I had hoped he didn't, and that the likelihood of contamination was small because of time, geometry, localization and such. I just about had Nils convinced that all was going to be okay until he removed the first tub of potato salad which had a giant smudge of blood across the lid. In our weakened condition we began to gag, Nils snatched up the bag and headed back inside.

From my vantage point in the truck, I could see the waving of arms and exaggerated talking and a red-faced cook as Nils berated everyone within earshot as he got our money back. I only hoped he was using the right language during his diatribe.

Once he returned to the cab of the truck I suggested a beer to help calm him down, so we picked up a couple of large Heineken's and made our way to Cracker Barrel where we had a delicious and well-rounded meal.

And we didn't even have to ask, "Please hold the hemoglobin."

- Sent from my iPhone

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