I afforded myself another night out recently. Why is that significant? Because I depend on social welfare, which boils down to no more than about 160,- $ per month at my disposal. For food and transportation. In other words: I have to skip (many) meals to get to socialize. I don’t usually mention it. Because the last thing you need when meaning to socialize is the stigma of “poor”. Noone needs that, noone needs or wants to know. I get it.
So, here I am. Attending a concert. No admission charge and even just riding downtown and affording myself minimal consumption has me go hungry for days, if not for the rest of the month. I figured, the line-up was worth it. On top of it, I even afford myself a tiny snack before the concert. Asian. My favorite. Anything Asian, always a slice of heaven on earth. Not this time. I inquire about any dairy contained in my “Tom Ka Gai” (Thai soup with chicken). The clark at the sales desk confirms “no”, no dairy. No cream, no butter, no milk. “OK then. One Tom Ka Gai and an extra side of rice”. I proceed to the drinks. Organic fruit juice with lemonade, called a “spritz” (Schorle) where I live. Should be o.k., too. I proceed to an empty table and start enjoying my small dinner. I had been starving all day. 4,- for a meal, I can’t even beat that when fixing myself a meal at home. No regrets. Or so I thought.
I had smelled something funny, but hadn’t paid any attention to it. I can’t be the “food nazi” all the time. So I pig out. Wonderful taste, delicious! I’m in heaven. Finish my meal, listen to some music, enjoy not having panic attacks in this heavily frequented urban diner (I usually do – panic, that is). Everything is going great! I finish up and leave. And there it is: A sharp pain in the abdominal area, a dead give away to what I know will be coming: Food poisoning for dairy intolerance… (it will stall my digestive track for three days…) But I am determined not to let anything ruin my night. So I take a “digestive walk”, as I usually do. It’s about 1.5 miles on foot to the venue. I break into a sweat, a heavier one than appropriate for this minor “workout”. That sweat is the early predecessor to a full blown allergic reaction. I’ve been there enough times to read the signs early. Abdominal cramps, more pain. I know all that, I know “the drill” and sequence of symptoms. Accelerated heart rate, shortness of breath, dizziness. Oh, fuck all that! It’s my fucking night and I won’t have anything or anyone ruin it for me!
I arrive at the venue. The band are still checking sound and setting up. I feel “heavy” and clumsy. I get like that when dairy poisons my system. When I was younger, I got beaten up and humiliated in front of relatives and other people for being clumsy like that. Verbally abused. Beaten some more later. Not now. I’m my own man. All I have to deal with is “clumsy” – and I’ve practiced hard enough to handle it.
Fast forward: I enjoy the concert as much as my current condition allows for. I socialize, I converse, I’m as charming as I can (I’d like to think, being a charmer is part of my genuine nature, that nature before all the humiliation and abuse took place and burdened the real me under a heap of shame and feelings of guilt). I join the musicians and musician friends outside for a cigarette – well, a small cigar in my case. I return inside, chat some more, pay up, leave.
On the short way back to my car, my vision darkens. I have a funny feeling in my knees and for a brief moment, my system signals: “This is it, buddy. Say your farewells. We’re done here. It’s just you and me (“me” being my consciousness – or awareness, rather). Time to leave for good.” And that same moment, I distinctly feel a blackout comin’. “No! Not now! I haven’t accomplished anything just yet! Give me more time! I need more time! Give me time, you fucker!” I sit down for a brief moment. The feeling of passing out passes. I am so cold, I tremble from it. I shake. I break into cold sweat. And I head on to my car. Not now. Now’s not the time. And I can’t die alone. Forgotten the minute my heart stops beating.
Not now. I still got things to do….