Ping pong

Roadhouse BBQ

CHEAP EATS It's a swirly, soupy thing, life, and I would like to be less dizzy in it but there's this furiously pointless Ping-Pong game, nonstop, between my head and my gut. Fortunately, I'm a fan of the sport. And of spin, and slams.

Cousin Choo-Choo Train says I am never quite satisfied unless my dinner guests go home a little nervous, on top of everything else. And it's true that I like to err on the side of salmonella, that I have no respect whatsoever for trichinosis, and that E. coli could be the latest Internet gadgetry for all I care. Still, no one has ever puked because of my cooking.

And if that ain't a claim to fame ... if I'm misclaiming itif I just don't know — then please tell me so's I can change my ways. I don't mean to make anyone sick, just nervous. Just a little bit nervous, like, hmm, I wonder if I might wind up in the emergency room. But then you don't. Like that.

A lot of people don't like to eat with me. In many cases their reasons are valid, like they're vegetarian, or don't know me. Other people keep coming back, keep going home nervous, and keep coming back.

This is called a sense of adventure. I know you have one, dear reader, or you wouldn't be reading Cheap Eats. You'd be hoping your parachute opens, or surfing where sharks are — something really really boring.

Speaking of boring, one of my oldest, meat-eatingest friends wrote to remind me, after I got soft a couple columns ago and accidentally wrote about a one-year-old client of mine who I love, and who loves flowers, that "there's only one thing more boring than listening to cat-loving freaks talk about their freakin' cats ... "

The ellipses are his. I'm pretty sure he didn't mean chickens, though, because I've been writing about chickens ever since I was a teenager, no lie, and we've been in writing workshops and bands together. Surely he'd have said something before now, like, "Whoa! Chickens are boring."

Besides which it just ain't true. So he must have meant either babies or flowers. Probably both. Together. Cute little flower-loving babies. Boring — unless they're yours (or your client) — according to people.

So, OK, so how am I going to make it up to my Cheap readership, this un-farmerly lapse of coolness? Why, it's almost too easy! By treating you all to something so freakin' fascinating, so exciting, so universally bacon that even the most jaded cynic will have to turn his NASCAR cap around afterward, read it again, shake his head, and go, "Whoa! Chickens are boring, compared to this."

The subject of which I speak, of course, is My First Mammogram. I thought I was going to say Food Poisoning. But everything changed when I went to the mailbox just now and there was a letter from the medics re: my March 3 breast imaging examination:

Blah blah blah, there's something in there, yadee-yada, they believe it's benign, but.... And these ellipses are mine because my brain by now was awhirl with horror and general aghastness at the thought that two weeks had passed since My First Mammogram without me writing about it!

Well: Everyone said it hurts like hell, especially for small-breasted women. They described mean-fingered, banjo-faced technicians leveraging practical white nursing shoes into your sternum, grabbing one nipple in both hands and yanking and flattening you out like pie crust, in some cases using marble rolling pins to coerce you into the picture.

"Are you currently pregnant?" my mammogrammer asked.

It was the kindest thing anyone ever said to me and I told her so, then realized that she probably had to ask, by law, even if you had a mustache. In any case, she was a dear, and it didn't hurt one bit. I like pie.

And, no, I ain't afraid of no probably benign notes in the mail. I know just what it was they saw in there: a ping-pong ball. I'm game.

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