After the watermelon fiasco, my party turned out to be a downright hootenanny. Fun was had by all and some said it was my best shindig yet. The next day, old pal, Tara, came for a visit and me, Sean, and Mom squeezed in a few college visits the day after for the youngest Langan’s budding basketball career. And then it was Tuesday, my last day on the east coast. Well, not like last day EVER – (that sounded dramatic) just for this vacation. Mom and I darted up to Pennsylvania to see Nonie and Pop Pop and then came home because the whole Langan clan, all four of us, had dinner reservations at a Hibachi restaurant for my farewell feast.
We stroll into the Hibachi place and take our seats. Everyone knows a hibachi staple is that the chefs try and throw food into your mouth, so Sean and I were discussing it. Clearly, I’m stoked. Who wouldn’t be? It’s fun. AND I’ve done it before, to great success. I’m talking, like, the chef tosses up three baby shrimp and I swoop in like a hawk and snag them out of thin air. Sean and I have a little bet as to who can catch more.
So we’re all talking and after a while, Japanese Jackie Chan comes out (that’s not a racial slur either, that’s actually what he called himself) and fires up the grill. Before long, it’s food-throwing time. This time, it’s veggies. Broccoli, to be specific. The most haphazardly shaped vegetable known to mankind. It has that long stalk (not conducive to quick eating) and then the bushy top makes for an irregular shape. But whatever. I’m a champ, so clearly, I got this.
Sean volunteers to go first and misses every piece of broc the chef throws at him. One landed on his upper lip, one went in his mouth and then fell out, it was a mess. He was SO CLOSE. Then Dad is up and struck out hard. A few went over his head, one hit him in the eye…it’s like, geez guys, we’re supposed to be an athletically inclined family.
Finally, it’s my turn. Just me and Japanese Jackie Chan. It’s up to me to save my family’s honor and get at least ONE piece of broccoli. He looks down at the grill. There are only two pieces left. I grab my chair to brace myself. I feel like Clint Eastwood in an old western.
The chef launches the broccoli into the air and I jerk to the right and it bounces off my right cheek.
One left. He throws it into the air and, honestly, it was just a bad toss. It goes clean over my head, but in an effort to salvage the veg, I reached out with my right hand and felt something snap.
I could hardly breathe. I just pulled what had to have been the biggest muscle in my back. I’m wheezing, stamping my feet, trying my best to keep a low pro – I mean seriously, what guy throws his back out trying to catch food in his mouth at Hibachi?
The rest of the night was a tormented blur of pain and suffering while trying to swallow ibuprofen, which I haven’t NEVER been able to do. Pills aren’t my forte, which is why I could never overdose. My Mom used to smash up aspirin in a spoonful of peanut butter for me. When I was 20. CHEWABLES, guys, c’mon. It was a rough send-off to go back to Cali, because my flights were delayed on top of my bad back. But don’t worry East Coast, you can’t get rid of me that easily. I’ll be back again soon.