Tuesday, February 28, 2006

It's "Fat Tuesday"

Big deal.

For the Curmudgeon, every day is fat... as sadly illustrated by this morning's vignette.

I was 10 minutes late for a dentist's appointment. I'm only about a mile away from the dentist's office, but a traffic accident on the outbound Kennedy filled all of the adjacent streets with cars looking for the mythical "alternate route" -- as I did not find out until I attempted to drive over.

I'd been to see the dentist just a couple of weeks ago, to replace an old cavity that had failed after many years of diligent service. (You need not observe a moment of silence.) At that time we had discussed this morning's adventure, another cavity filling, but one so minor, the dentist said, that anesthetic might be unnecessary.

My tardiness this morning decided the matter: There was no time for Novocaine.

"Let me know if this hurts you," said the dentist.

"Don't worry," I answered, "if it hurts I'll scream like a banshee."

The dentist turned to his assistant: "Close the door," he said. "We don't want to lose the morning patients."

Despite this inauspicious beginning, the cavity filling proceeded without incident. The dentist may have revved the drill a bit more than necessary. With a tad too much enthusiasm. And the dentist's chuckle may have been a half-tone too dark, more an evil cackle than a kindly chuckle. But I endured, and the worst was soon over. Or so I thought.

But then came the most unkindest cut of all: "You're all set," he said, "but don't eat anything for about 40 minutes."

Sizing me up (and the pun is intended), he must have felt this would be a challenge for me.


It may be Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but in Chicago, it's "Paczki Day."

I probably heard vague references to "poonchki" (the standard pronunciation of "paczki") for years, but I never realized what a big deal it is in the Polish community until I was running for judge the first time.

I was up early every morning during that futile effort, passing out my propaganda on any street corner or bus stop or train station that I could. On Fat Tuesday I was near a Polish bakery -- and I was duly impressed by the long lines of pastry aficionados. I may be slow on the uptake on many things, but when it comes to baked goods, I make it my business to become well informed.

Are my 40 minutes up yet?

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