Sunday, February 7, 2010

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Quasimodo look

FRED CICCO | Originally Posted: Sunday, May 18, 1997

Lately on television there have been some strange commercials, such as the
Taco Bell one with Shaq. That's the one where his head is over at a strange
angle and they call it taco neck syndrome. It's a funny idea, but this last
week I developed my own TNS.
It started on Monday when I was driving to Indianapolis. I had picked up a
quick sandwich for lunch and when I tried to take a drink of soft drink, I had
a strange sensation of not being able to get my lips around my straw. It was
like going to the dentist and having Novocain. I then proceeded to drip pop
out of my mouth on to my shirt. Then I started to notice that I was having
trouble just eating on one side.
While I was in the truck I received a call from the girls at the store with
a question about something. As we were conversing I started to notice that my
lips did not come together very easily to form words. Sometimes I couldn't even
get the words to come out the way they were supposed to and I would sound like
Elmer Fudd.
I still wasn't sure that something was wrong. I am diabetic so I thought it
was one of those goofy things that just mysteriously happen and will go away.
I got back to work that afternoon and I was talking to one of our old
customers. We were laughing and joking about things like we usually do. I had a
strange sensation every time I laughed, like part of my face wasn't joining in.
My head then would go over to the right like I had taco neck syndrome.
Of course, my mother and my sister immediately started worrying and thought
I was having a stroke or something because of the funny look on my face. I
being the macho man that I am told them it was nothing. I said that I had had
Taco Bell for lunch and I now had TNS. They didn't buy that.
The next day the condition persisted so I decided to go see my dentist,
Scott Polizotto. Why did I go to the dentist instead of a doctor, you ask? My
gum had been a little sore and I thought maybe that was the root of my problem.
Scott poked and probed and then he said he thought I had a temporary condition
called Bell's palsy. He wanted me to see a neurologist to confirm it.
Now I was starting to feel less confident but I had to keep up my macho
image. I called a customer of ours that is in that field and made an
appointment with him. He checked me all over and confirmed what Scott had said.
This condition starts out of the blue. It is an inflammation of your #7 nerve
which only controls your facial muscles. In 90% of cases it goes away by itself
in a few days to one year. After he told me all these things I was on the
Internet confirming everything I was told. The neurologist even gave me some
cool web sites to check for more information.
What happens with this condition is that only one side of my face is
working. It's not noticeable until I have an extended conversation or I try to
laugh. Then people want to know what's wrong. A couple of times I have said I
have this Bell's palsy and then I explain what it is. A lot of people were
familiar with it.
I really don't like the sound of it so I've started telling people I was
going for a new part in a movie. Since I have done extra work this gives me a
good excuse. I say that I'm trying out for the Quasimodo role or that I'm going
for "Rain Man II." No one really believes me so then I have to tell the truth
and explain to them.
It's been four days now and it's amazing how we take things for granted like
our lips, tongue and face. People say this is my punishment for making funny
faces at my sister. Well, when this goes away I promise never to do it again.
Or for awhile anyway.
Until later...........ciao

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Monday, December 28, 2009

I have always liked beef barley soup. Those little white pieces of barley are pretty cool looking, even though they don’t taste like anything. I think some component of barley goes into making beer. I don’t drink but I do remember the commercials that talked about barley, malt, and hops.
One day I decided to try to make some homemade soup. I got out the seldom used crock pot and went about collecting the soup fixings. By the way, did you ever wonder how the name crock pot came about. It also coincides with the phrase “crock of s---“, so it really worries me that it is called a crock pot.
I was very careful about the ingredients. I went to the meat market and got the leanest beef stew meat I could find. I cut and chopped vegetables until I had enough for an army. I wasn’t sure about what barley looked like in it’s uncooked form. I went to the grocery store on a blind search for barley. I’m sure you have all done this. You go to the store and walk up and down every aisle until you see the thing your looking for.
As I get older, my memory gets worse so I use the technique to help my memory. I have this uncanny ability to remember a phone number that I have only dialed a couple of times, but I can walk out of my office at work and take four steps and completely forget what I had set out to do. It’s very frustrating. I’m sure you all know what I mean.
After completing my quest for uncooked barley, I returned home to finish preparing the soup. I must admit that at the time I was a novice at making soup or what I like to call stew soup. I like my soup to be very thick with ingredients. After I put the meat and the veggies in, I was curious about liquid for the soup. I wasn’t sure weather the meat from the juice would produce enough liquid or if I had to add some. I made a few calls and couldn’t find anyone at home to get an answer to my question. Finally, I decided to add a little water. I figured I had a 50/50 chance of being right. The last thing that was left was the barley. I looked for instructions on the box, but I couldn’t find any. It was a Quaker Oats brand and it didn’t even have any recipes on it.
I didn’t know what to do next. I kept looking at the box and it didn’t look very big. I liked barley a lot, so I did what any red blooded American male would do, I improvised. I took the box of barley and put about half of it in the pot. It didn’t look like enough, so I put the
rest of the box in the crock pot.
Being young and single at the time, there was a certain learning curve when it came to cooking. Those days I ate things that I couldn’t even look at now, but you live and learn. When we were teenagers growing up in Glen Park, a bunch of us that worked at Pete & Snook’s, all learned to cook in the back room of the pizza parlor. Snooky, would make some great meals out of that kitchen and we all learned by him making us do the cooking and he would direct us.
Back to the soup. I went to work and turned on the crock pot as I left. I didn’t know how long it should cook or how long I should leave it on. I was in my early twenties and I had a job selling cars at the time. When I got to work, I told my fellow salesmen that I was attempting beef barley soup and they were all anticipating tasting the soup. They had always enjoyed everything I ever made. Pizza, tuna salad,
tomato salad, and pasta. We worked long shifts so I figured the soup would have plenty of time to cook. At the time we worked till 9 p.m., so about 7 p.m., I went home to get the soup for everyone. The guys said they would cover for me. Well, when I got to my house, which was only a couple of miles from work, there was a big surprise for me. I had no idea how much barley expands. I put the whole box in and there was barley all over the place. It also kind of exploded and was on the walls and the ceiling. I couldn’t go back to work because it took me about 4 hours to get everything cleaned up. Now in my old age I found the secret to making good soup at home. Now, where is that can opener.
Until later…………………………………………………ciao!