Chestnut

Chestnut: (n) a glossy brown nut that may be roasted and eaten.

Beware of those who pursue authenticity simply to establish the superiority of their cause.

Spending Christmas with some friends many years ago, the suggestion was made that we try to roast some chestnuts over an open fire to
capture the sensation of Mel Tormé,  when he wrote “The Christmas Song.”

You remember…

“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire

Jack Frost nipping at your nose…”

Not familiar with Jack Frost, we decided to go for the chestnuts. Actually, they decided–those purists who felt that authenticity gave them an edge in the competition for supremacy.

Three problems immediately came to the forefront:

  1. Nobody knew anything about chestnuts–and this was before Wikipedia enabled us to fake it.
  2. Nobody had any idea what type of fire would be necessary for roasting, or how the little fellas would line up to be toasted.
  3. And of course, none of us knew what chestnuts tasted like.

At first, it seemed to go pretty well. We were able to locate chestnuts, and somebody provided a solid brass container with two extended arms, so the chestnuts could be placed above the fire for cooking.

It looked lovely.

Then for some reason, the gentleman who basically instigated the event, became so excited about checking on his chestnuts that he forgot that the brass container was metal and had been dangling over (you got it) an open fire. For some reason, he reached in with his hands to remove the container and then lurched back in horror and pain, his paws red and ablaze.

So rather than having chestnuts roasting over an open fire, we ended up driving our friend to the Emergency Room to have his hands treated and wrapped in gauze.

Upon returning about two and a half hours later, the chestnuts had burned because no one remember to take them off–once again–the open fire.

In case you don’t know, chestnuts, like any number of other substances, don’t smell very good when they are burned. As a matter of fact, the odor of nutty immolation was in the house for months to come. Needless to say, not much was ever said about chestnuts, roasting or open fires.

Sometimes it’s just better to go out and buy a package of peanuts and warm them in the microwave.

Then pretend.

 

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Caffeine

Caffeine: (n) a crystalline stimulant that is found especially in tea and coffee

I was twenty years old and was thoroughly convinced that every idea that popped into my head was granted by the supreme fairies of genius notions. I was in the midst of the seduction of a particular inspiration, working feverishly, with pen in hand, when I realized I was getting
sleepy.

Successful people don’t sleep, I thought. A budding impresario does not yearn for the pillow.

So I went down to the local drugstore and bought a product called “No Doze. ” I didn’t even read the instructions. (You have to be twenty-five years old to consider such a mature move.)

I just took two. Nothing happened.

So I chased it with two more, waited half and hour and took two more.

Within the span of two hours, I ended up taking eight No Doze, when I finally decided to read the instructions, which explained that each tablet contained the caffeine equivalent to fifteen cups of coffee.

Shortly after reading this warning, my heart started to palpitate. My face blanched, Sweat burst out on every part of my body. I thought I was going to die.

For the first time in my life, I went to the emergency room of the hospital and explained to them what I had done.

The doctor quipped, “You shouldn’t have taken so many.”

True, but not poignant.

By this time my chest was cramping and my legs were twitching. The doctor reached over into his magical cabinet and pulled out a shot of something, which I later learned was a tranquilizer.

I slept in that examination room for six hours. I awoke drained, embarrassed, and desperately trying to explain how I planned to pay for the late-night visit.

So over the years I have convinced myself that I am allergic to caffeine–so as not to accidentally stimulate any reaction similar to the one I had that night so many years ago.

 

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Antacid

dictionary with letter A

Antacid: (n.) a preventative to correct acidity, usually in the stomach.

All of us human mortals suffer from some form of “wimp factor.”

It’s not easy to admit, especially if you’re preoccupied with the notion of appearing macho or self-reliant.

But honestly, one of the more endearing factors about being a part of this race is that when we get candid with one another about our foolishness and silliness, we can really be quite charming.

I think the first time I was consciously aware of having a bad case of indigestion was in my early twenties. I had never even considered antacid or assistance of any sort for my digestive tract.

Being a silly goose, I assumed that the rumblings in my chest were the onset of a heart attack. Even though it would be unusual for anyone of my age to be plagued by such a tragedy, I convinced myself that I was the exception to the rule, and rather than having ingested a very greasy piece of smoked sausage, I had clogged up an artery which was trying to keep me from breathing.

So every time I felt the little twinge of pain, I frantically took deep breaths to make sure I would maintain consciousness, and in doing so hyperventilated, only increasing my worry, which led to having an anxiety attack–which, by the way, feels similar to the heart variety.

It was so silly–especially when I found myself in an emergency room and they poured out some white liquid in a small cup, and I asked them if it was for my heart. The nurse calmly replied, “No. It’s Di-gel. For your belly ache.”

I only spent half an hour there, and received some giggles from the attending physician, who told me that if I didn’t lose weight, I probably would be in there with a heart attack in thirty years or so, but I was safe for the time being.

I know there are people who have to use antacids all the time, but basically, if you don’t eat too much fatty food while also consuming large amounts of fluid, you can usually avoid gastric distress.

And if you do happen to have a twinge in your belly that radiates up into your chest, don’t immediately assume that you’re dying.

You are one belch away from salvation.

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Thank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix