The short answer is, the Jimmy John’s No. 6 vegetarian sub may very well have saved my life.
On the evening of Sept. 23, 1997, I put myself in the hospital with alcohol poisoning. That is to say, an ambulance and some paramedics put me in the hospital, but I’m the one who started it.
It looks kinda like this, except they dont do sprouts anymore. (Courtesy of JimmyJohns.com
It was my 21st birthday. My job laying out the student newspaper held me up, and I was late meeting my friends at the bar to celebrate. Time before last call was short, so I drank something like four beers and nine shots in less than an hour.
I remember this much before waking up on a gurney as I was wheeled into Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, Mich.
Thinking: Should I do those last two shots?
Thinking: Hell yes.
Stumbling home on the shoulders of two of my roommates. I didn’t so much walk as allow myself to be propelled forward by gravity and their patience.
Rolling off the living room couch into pure darkness to hit the floor, clutch my gut, and commence vomiting.
Yesterday at work we said goodbye to the Latte Lounge.
Our office was testing it out this week. Friday was its last day with us, and I can already feel that it’s made a change all our lives.
The Latte Lounge is a remarkable little machine. Actually, it’s enormous. It must outweigh our old coffee maker 10 to 1. It stood in an underused part of the first floor like a robotic guard watching over the adjacent vending machines.
Turning to my neighbor and enjoying an excuse to use the cliche, I said, “I can literally see my house from here.”
He turned toward the window as if he could see it, too. Out of politeness or empathy, I suppose. Just a reflex. I might have done the same thing.
I’d avoided talking to him so far. If there is anything I hate on an airplane, it’s verbosity, but we were so close, I thought I could risk it.
He wore a fedora and a black short-sleeve oxford shirt. He looked to be in his late 50s. His arms were covered with coarse brown and gray hairs, and the backs of his hands were spotty and freckled. I mention these details, because I looked at him so little, I believe it’s all I saw of him. I think he wore glasses.
I imagined he was a man who said “cat” and “cool” and “babe” a lot and who liked to sit in bars and recommend jazz clubs to tourists.
I was probably completely wrong.
It wasn’t strictly true that I could see my house — but it was possible, so I let the syntax stand. We were close enough. I could see my block. Ergo, I could see my house.
We had just curved slowly over Center City. The edges of the crystalline spires of Liberty Place glowed red that night, and the mirrored panes of glass shimmering like spangles from one to the next as we rotated past seemed close enough to touch.
From there, I could trace my way through the lighted grid below us. The streets spread out like a geometry problem. There’s Broad. There’s East Passyunk. That’s the Acme. So that’s Reed, Dickinson, Tasker, Morris, Moore, Mifflin. There’s the Catholic high school. My house should be just about… there.
Seemed a shame to go all the way to the airport to catch a cab all the way back up here. Couldn’t I just parachute out and walk home? Surely I’d land somewhere nearby.
But of course not. That would be silly. I had a checked bag that I needed to claim.
“Coming from Detroit,” my neighbor said, “this place must seem so beautiful.”
It was beautiful. And where I came from had nothing to do with it.
The importance of fixing our oven lay not just in the Thanksgiving dinner we had to host, but also in the unbaked DiGiorno pepperoni pizza and the box of Mrs. T’s jumbo fish sticks in the freezer just waiting to be consumed.
During a visit in the spring, my mom treated me and Jeff and a couple of our friends to some serious Polish-lady cooking: golabki, chicken stew and biscuits. The huge baking dish full of stuffed cabbage boiled over. We had a baking sheet on the lower rack, but it wasn’t placed well, and tomato soup spilled right on through to the gas valve and shorted out the electronic controls. If you’re going to go out, go with a bang, I guess—and a sizzle and a pop.