When Writers Choke on Olives

Someday, I can write about this. That’s what I thought as I flopped around like a gagging rag doll in my husband’s arms as he performed the Heimlich maneuver-ish to dislodge the olive pit stuck in my throat. In the first five minutes of a dinner party. In a posh corner of downtown Toronto. In a penthouse apartment.

I still remember the clink of the pit hitting the counter as it flew out of my retching mouth. The hosts applauded. I had olive bits down my shirt. The shirt I had so carefully and nervously chosen for the dinner party where I was so clearly out of my depth. A while later, once I had regained the ability to swallow, the host set a plate in front of me and gamely said:  “I hope you can handle this salad.”

What a night – ripe with material!

And that’s why writers secretly like when they trip up stairs (better even than falling down them). Humiliation morphs into humour. Despair tones down into drama.

That night, just starting to skim the surface of my writing career (but years deep into making a fool of myself), I realized that I had truly become a writer if I could think about writing while on the cusp of death by olive. The funny thing is, I never did find the opportunity to write about it. Until now.

3 Comments

  1. Best laugh I’ve had in awhile! You should alway carry a spare shirt perhaps. Great story

  2. Hi Karen – I saw the title and couldn’t not read it (double negative). It’s so true, every struggle, every mishap, somewhere, sometime, becomes material. I’m sure you’ll use this humiliating moment again some time.

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