Is there a Heimlich Maneuver for love?



I am loved. My husband works out of our home, yet finds time to make meals for me, do most of the grocery shopping, and take care of cars and bills. In a few days, we will celebrate 32 years of sharing the same last name. We have walked through joy and heartbreak together, and in every step he has remained kind and patient. Not once, and trust me, I would remember, has he ever raised his voice toward me or said an unkind word.



For the past 32 years, I have worked as a Quality Control Inspector putting my husband to the test. I’ve subjected him to impatience, sharp words, anger, silence, and rigorous door slamming. No matter how I act or what I do, he remains the same, his goodness still in tact.



Does he have flaws? Yes. The most egregious: he cannot read my mind. I have powerful thoughts that I beam toward him on a regular basis. Since he claims to love me, I don’t feel it is necessary to actually say what I want or need. Obviously, his goodness has limits.



One of the greatest manifestations of his love is buying me dark chocolate. He regularly buys a box of truffles or other delights and puts them in the cupboard so that I can medicate as needed. Last month, he came home with two bags of bite-sized treats and a container of dark chocolate mint balls. I usually eat one piece a day, though two pieces a day is not unheard of. Sometimes I take some to my coworkers, and I also share with my daughter and grandchild because my husband eats only sweet, milky chocolate.




I worked on emptying the two bags of candy, which seemed to disappear more rapidly than usual, saving the dark chocolate mints for last. Then one evening last week, my husband walked in the living room with the clear container of dark chocolate mints.




“How do you like them?” he asked.




I looked at the half-empty container. Although I found it hard to breathe, I managed to get a few words out. “I don’t know. I haven’t eaten any. Have you been eating my dark chocolate mints?”




“I don’t really like them,” he said, “but I’ve been choking them down.”




Choking them down! Horrors! Were they deadly? Defective? Radioactive? Unsafe for older women? Did they have some ingredient that would harm me if swallowed? What depths of love drove him to risk his life for me?




Over the next few days, he managed to choke down the rest of the mints, saving me from that fearful ordeal. During the day while I was at school, I tried to stay occupied and not think about what he was going through; otherwise, I would envision him sitting in a corner, carefully removing the lid from those innocuous-looking but life-threatening mints, forcing himself to eat them, possibly choking, and doing it all for me.




I will never know what that good man spared me from and endured on my behalf, because I never tasted even one of those mints. For days after, I lauded him, recalled his deed, and thanked him for his heroism. To prevent me from making too much of his courage, he placed a big box of dark chocolate truffles under my pillow. He thinks this will still my incessant praise. He is wrong.




He’s a humble man and doesn’t want to talk about the mints and his act of bravery, but I do. It’s one more reason I love the man.




Once a pun a time, or why you shouldn’t judge me


Samuel Johnson frowning at Shakespeare's puns (courtesy of Wikipedia)


Samuel Johnson called punning the lowest sense of humor. I would take offense but the man is dead, and he wouldn’t care. When he wasn’t speaking ill of puns, Johnson collected words to put in his little dictionary of the English language, frowned through all of Shakespeare’s plays because they are full of puns and then annotated them out of spite, got grouchy and criticized literature (in a scholarly way), and tossed off poems, essays, and biographies before breakfast.


So, yes, we have a lot in common. But, we do not share the same opinion about puns. I think of them as the dark chocolate of humor; good any time of the day, at or between meals, with coffee or wine, with or without nuts, and in all forms.

Well known pharmaceutical company (photo by gabrielsaldana at


I know what you’re thinking. No, friend, I am not addicted to chocolate. I use it purely for medicinal purposes. First, chocolate is good for the heart. I have loved chocolate since before I remember, and that’s how long my heart has been beating. If I stop eating chocolate, my heart may stop. I can’t risk that. Second, chocolate is good for the brain. You have only to read this blog to see the effects of lots of dark chocolate on my brain. Impressive, no? (Note: some questions on this blog are for rhetorical purposes only and in no way imply that you need to answer.)


As for the compulsive punning, I have spoken of it once before, and it is a kind of brain disorder called Foerster’s Syndrome that I self-diagnosed years ago. I have been self-diagnosing for years and have experienced multiple medical miracles along with bouts of alliteration in which I have been healed of life-threatening diseases of the nervous system, the digestive system, and for a short time, the bubonic plague, all without any medical intervention whatsoever. My baffled doctors attributed my symptoms to indigestion and the common cold. As if. No doubt there’s a connection between their bafflement and lack of chocolate.


All I’m asking for is a little compassion, friend, if and when I publish a post full of puns, even if it’s tomorrow.

Descartes at 30: I think, therefore I am; Descartes at 60: I age, therefore I melt


Student: Teacher, I like your turtleneck. Is it one of those new scrunchy kinds?

Yearstricken: (Places hands on throat – her own, not the student’s) I’m not wearing a turtleneck. And student, this is not the way to an A.

Student: Does teacher want chocolate?

Yearstricken: Yes, very dark, on the bitter side.

As the student walks away, Yearstricken thinks she hears the student mutter, “Like teacher?”

This exchange is almost true: Yearstricken loves dark chocolate; her students know this. And her face is starting to melt. Her cheeks are starting to hang off her face. People call them jowls. This makes Yearstricken scowl, howl, growl and make rhymes. A lot of her face is melting down her neck, but it has nowhere to go because her shoulders are in the way. Her skin is puddling there.

(Time out for dark chocolate.)

Hi, I’m back and speaking in the first person again. Chocolate helps me that way. One of my recurring dreams is that I can fly. By merely raising my arms, I can lift off and fly all around the dream universe. After watching those videos where people in wingsuits jump off mountains and fly, I realize that these dreams are prophetic and I’ve been preparing all my life to jump off mountains and fly, but without the wingsuit. My arms are ready, very flappable, that is, able to flap. In fact, I could go as a bat on Halloween if I painted them black.

So, where does Descartes come into all this? He watched a candle melt and developed an entire system of knowledge, how we know that we know what we know. He was a very knowing man. He called it the Wax Argument and in his book, Meditations, he includes this line: The wax can be extended in ways that I cannot accurately imagine.

The Wax Argument - I age, therefore I melt

Really, that’s what he said. I cannot make up things like that.

If Descartes had made it to 60 (he died at age 56), I have no doubt he would have made the connection to that candle and the way people melt as they age. Also, he would be amazed at the ways in which my candle is extending. If he were here, I’m sure he’d thank me for making all this clear.