You don't hear me say this often, but last night, I needed a drink. The crushing demands of work (we need George to do this. Oh, George will do this. George, will you help out on this?) had left me literally with a crushing pain in my chest. It's called pericarditis, if you want the technical term for it, and it's the swelling of the protective membrane around the heart.
It's been described to me as feeling as if you have an elephant sitting on your chest. I can only say it's all that, and more. It's like severe lower back pain, only it's in the center of your chest, radiating up to your jaw, and to make you feel really sick and vulnerable, down your left arm--you know, just like a heart-attack.
Additionally, pericarditis, at least for me also comes with dizziness, fatigue and shortness of breath, so I spent a good part of the weekend as mobile as a tree stump. In any event by about three last night, or more accurately this morning, the pain had begun to subside, so I somewhat rashly decided to head uptown to the Tempus Fugit and have myself a Pike's.
I arrived at the dim incandescence around 3:15. The night's games were settled, the pyrotechnic roar of mass-produced fan fervor was silenced. I seated myself on my stool and the bartender pulled me a Pike's Ale. I held the eight-ounces of amber in my hands and let the glass settle there. The weight, the color, the aroma, it was all right by me.
"You're still feeling poorly," the bartender began.
"This is a tough one. Pericarditis" I said. "Just when I thought my woes were over, I am once again stricken."
"You are like the teak of this bar here," he said as he brought out his small white terry and began buffing it. "You are like the teak of this bar. You are a bronze. You will outlast the temporal. You will triumph over Pericarditis."
I drained my Pike's.
"I have to tell you, it didn't feel that way this weekend. I thought I was deep into the scary realm of infarctions, and angioplasts, and bypasses, and pacemakers and nitrogylcerin pills."
"Go home," he said to me. "Go home and get some sleep."
I pushed a $20 his way. Uncharacteristically he picked it up, folded it in half and slid it into his breast pocket.
"A deposit on your health," he said. "You get your money back when you can breathe again."
I stood up to leave.
"One thing," he said, stopping me. "As your daughter says: 'check yourself before you wreck yourself."
I took a taxi home.