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    Saturday, February 2, 2013

    By Lisa Harmon

    Way back in the 70's I was a little kid growing up in my grandparents' four family house. Two apartments were occupied by family. My Mom had her place and my grandparents had their place. My brother and I stayed in my grandparents apartment. They were retired and both of them were usually home after school.  If not both, then one.  There was always someone home when we got back after school.

    Honestly I can only remember this one time no one was home. When I got to our front porch, the upstairs tenant let me in. She was a nice lady named Manushag (or Violet if you can't pronounce Armenian names) who had two sons while living in my Pop's house. Her family came downstairs to hang out with my grandparents all the time so we were pretty friendly.

    She said “Are you hungry?” To which I replied “No, thank you.” Well you know that never works, so she made me a liverwurst sandwich. You heard me.

    I had never had liverwurst and I didn't know what it was but I was pretty scared of it. Because the name said it all – worse than liver. That's all I needed to know. I never had liver either, but the name said it all: liver. Gross!

    She was so kind and gracious, and I know I didn't hear the front door open (indicating the arrival of my Pop and Gram), so there was no escaping downstairs to their place. I was cornered and I knew it. I think some prepubescent sweat may have popped out on my upper lip at this point.

    What's a polite girl to do? Smile, say thank you, curse your grandparents for not being home and take a bite!

    I have to say the name describes it all. It was the worst thing I ever ate. I thought it tasted like a sweat sock sandwich. It was horrible and I'm so stupid, I ate the whole thing. It never occurred to me to eat a bite or two, then say I had a big lunch. I ate that whole yucky sandwich just to be polite!

    Fast forward close to forty years and I did it again! Let me just say, right now, I was raised to be polite. Polite beyond normal polite. Many, many times I've heard that my brother and I are the most polite people someone knows. We say please and thank you a lot. We never take the last appetizer. We won't show up at your house empty-handed. Great skills for making it in cutthroat society, by the way. But that's a story for another blog.

    I was on a bar show not far from home in Queens. We comics were told it was the bartender's birthday. The bartender was expecting all her friends and it was a party, and most importantly (to the comics) there was going to be food.

    I had just eaten a large dinner to make up for not eating all day, so I was pretty full.

    We arrive at the bar, and there are only about ten patrons there. After a while we get the word that the bartender is very upset that her friends haven't shown up. Also that she spent the whole day making beef stew for everyone. This woman seemed on the verge of tears. She was beside herself. I thought her friends were pretty shitty.

    She gave a bowl of beef stew to my buddy that booked me. She came out ten minutes later with another bowl. Walks right up to me – its just us two and he's already eating, and says “Who wants a bowl?” I go “Me! I want a bowl!” I'm thinking, at least its not liverwurst! Though I'm not a big fan of eating home-cooking of people I don't know well (everything I make has a generous helping of cat fur in it, for example), sometimes, you just have to bite the bullet and make a fucking birthday party.

    So I eat and I'm so stuffed its not even funny and I'm trying to make a dent in this giant portion of beef stew and mashed potatoes that she gave me. I'm like the guy with the wafer thin mint in Monty Python. I'm going to die any minute. I ate the beef and the veggies and a couple of spoons of potato and I swear I couldn't take another bite. It was like Thanksgiving, but more.

    All us comics had a bowl of stew, the booker listened to her fuming over her friends, and I think it was the worst birthday party, ever. It was even worse than that time at my barbeque where the grill broke and the burgers ended up in the driveway. Yes, the famous Lisa Harmon anti-freeze burgers.

    This poor bartender gave us glasses of water, instead of selling us bottles of water and I just felt so bad for her. Anyway another comic and I tipped her. I said, I have to get change, I want to tip her. The other comic said he would tip her too, because every time he was there, she was so nice to him. He gave her a tip and she hugged and kissed him. Then she hugged and kissed me. I said “Happy birthday.” I asked for change. I gave her a tip. She kissed me again.

    I was so stuffed I couldn't sleep. I waited till two o'clock in the morning and I was still too stuffed to sleep. I tossed and turned and digested. I was hot! I'm never hot! Never am I hot, in the winter, in my frost-bitten bedroom. You could bring polar bears to that room and you'd have to turn on the space heater because they'd feel too chilly.

    It was a terrible night, the kind of thing I don't do anymore (overeat till I'm uncomfortable). I had to learn that, believe it or not. I'm a lot like a goldfish that will eat everything you give it, and then it dies, because it ate too much. I don't do it anymore. I don't want to float to the top of the tank then get flushed down the toilet.

    I did it for this lady. I hope that others would do the same. Show a little compassion. People can be such jerks. I don't know the story with this lady, but I know she was expecting her friends and they let her down, on her birthday, which seems kind of shitty.

    Having us comedians there didn't take the sting out of that, but we were there, enjoying the food she made and giving her something to do and someone to talk to. It isn't much but its something. I could have said “I don't want any stew.” but I just didn't have the heart to do it. It would have been so mean after knowing all she was going through. That must be my compassion chip, which I've found out, you can only remove if you also remove your stupid vagina.

    Be nice. Life is short. These are human beings so treat them as such. And don't be a dick on your friend's birthday.

  2. 5 comments:

    1. eating out of obligation - ugh. i know the deal. have many stories. i enjoyed your blog very much until "stupid vagina". i was puzzled. i think at times, my vagina has shown itself to have a higher IQ than I have. it knew to shut down and tell Dick to go away and maybe come back another day. lol

      you did right this time, Lisa. the birthday woman needed the humanity.


    2. Anonymous said...

      Thanks for reading Mindy. I appreciate it.

    3. She So Funny said...

      HaHaHa! "Just one wahfah thin mint" Bug off. I cont eat anothah bite!

      My g-ma and g-pa lived next door. And liverwurst was a big part of our lives!


    4. Spleen said...

      I have done it too - and I hate liverwurst!!! I also have GERD and over eating causes me AGONY. Yet, I will do polite things like eat when I am full to please my family (notorious for "finish that last bit on your plate! C'mon! Don't waste food!) and am just learning to stop before I am actually full so I don't die from night pains. Love how you wrote about this!

    5. Anonymous said...

      Thank you!

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