By Tony Casson
(AUTHOR’S NOTE: I found a draft of this post originally begun in November of 2012 by my beloved son, Anthony, from the chicken scratching I sent him. For some reason probably related to the fact he was a college student with a job and a life, it never got completed or posted. Fortunately, since it was my story, I do remember the ending, so I have finished it.)
“Don’t touch the stove because it is hot and you will get burned.”
How many carry with them, if not an actual scar, then at least a memory of the need for independent verification of that piece of advice?
When I was six years old, it was determined that my tonsils needed to be removed. Many of you may not even be aware of what these little items are, especially if you are under 30, but if you open up your mouth and look way in the back, there they sit, one on either side of that little dangly thing, the name of which escapes me but is totally irrelevant to the rest of this story. Removal of them was pretty common back in the 60’s and 70’s, but eventually became something only done after repeated instances of ‘tonsillitis.’
Something else which is irrelevant is the fact that prior to the surgery, I asked the doctor to save them for me so that I might see what these ‘tonsil’ things looked like. He did just that, and when I came to in my hospital bed, there they sat, in a jar of what I think was formaldehyde, looking like a pair of testicles (as I would have imagined testicles to look like were one to have them removed.)
Of course, I knew they weren’t mine as I still had mine and the items in the jar were too big to be mine, anyway. I was, after all, only six years old.
They did, however, make absolutely the coolest item anyone ever brought to Westfield Academy in Westfield, New York, for show and tell.
But I digress.
When I came back around after surgery, my mother was there, and the doctor was there. My mom was a nurse so she knew about these procedures and she was then, as throughout my life, my medical adviser. Any time I asked her for a medical opinion, she advised me to see a doctor (HA HA).
(Author’s note: This is where Anthony left it, and since I don’t have the original hand-written post, I will ‘wing it’ from here. But hey, I was there, so I pretty much know how it the story ended.)
There was also a nurse present and all were telling me how brave I had been and how wonderful I was, when the subject of a reward came up and I was asked by the nurse if I would like a bowl of Jello or maybe a dish of ice cream.
It was at this point that I first exhibited the strong character trait that would lead me down all of the successive wrong roads I took in life that ultimately led me to prison.
I said, “No. I want pepperoni pizza.”
A simple enough request under most circumstances, but certainly not in this one. After all, common sense should have told me that someone had just rooted around in my throat and physically cut something out that had previously been attached in there, leaving it raw and tender.
I was six. I wanted nothing to do with common sense. I wanted pepperoni pizza.
The aforementioned people all looked at each other and smiled, knowingly, and left it to my mother to be the one to tell me, “Oh, Tony, you don’t want pepperoni pizza. You really should have a nice, cool, soothing bowl of ice cream or Jello.”
How dare she tell me what I want?
“I WANT PEPPERONI PIZZA!!” I declared vehemently, with a high degree of petulance thrown in.
Now, my mother was not given to profane speech, but the look she gave me could only be interpreted as, “OK, you little @%$#!!, you want pepperoni pizza, you got it.”
She turned to the helpful nurse, smiled, and said quietly, “Give it to him.” The reluctant look on the face of the nurse should have told me something, but it did not.
I laid back with what I am sure was an arrogant smile of victory to await my reward, which soon arrived.
In a few short moments, my eyes saw the pizza approaching, my stomach grumbled in expectation, and my mouth watered with anticipation of the first bite.
My throat, on the other hand, was not in concert with the rest of my body and as the first bite of that spicy meat-laden treat began to pass through my raw, bruised and battered throat, the words, “Oh, Tony, you don’t want pepperoni pizza. You really should have a nice, cool, soothing bowl of ice cream or Jello” reverberated in my brain just as the first loud agonizing scream of pain began to escape my tomato-sauce covered lips.
A bowl of vanilla ice cream miraculously appeared to help extinguish the fire that was scorching the spot once inhabited by my tonsils.
I learned a lesson that day.
Unfortunately, that lesson only extended to not eating pepperoni pizza after having your tonsils removed. The bigger lessons of listening to the wisdom of others and giving thought to what we do before we do it were totally lost on me.
And while the story itself may be humorous, the long-term effects of the behavior exhibited that day so long ago proved to be almost deadly. Fortunately, God stepped in before it got to that point, and I have learned to listen better, think more, and pray often.