KOLOT – Singing the Blue(berrie)s

By Charlotte “Blu” Berman

Most of my adult life, I have been afraid of food. Mostly, because, certain delicious foods, if consumed in generous portions, can cause one to become overweight, zoftig, chubby and, if the truth be told, not too sexy looking.

That was then. This is now, post-Diverticulosis, I’ve become apprehensive about swallowing a hidden seed, be it in a delicious piece of seeded rye bread or a poppy seed. What about a hamentashen at Purim time? Oh, I forgot, I’ve got to bypass sesame seeded bagels. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I sliced into my favorite tomato, only to find it harboring a forest of tiny, “dangerous-looking” seeds of which previously I had not been aware.

Oh well, I thought, I’ll have some sliced cucumber. Oh, for goodness sake, there is a circle of seeds in the middle of the cucumber. How come I never saw that before?

I’m beginning to feel as though every food I find that looks benign turns out to be toxic for me. I begin to tiptoe carefully through the produce aisles of local markets – carefully, carefully, as if I were tiptoeing through a minefield. I turn my attention to berries. I can see the minute seeds on the outside of fresh strawberries and raspberries. Ah, there’s a container of plump fresh blueberries. We all know that medical journals and dieticians think blueberries are the ultimate health food. Wrong…oh how wrong. Seems that the skin of the blueberry is a “no-no” in the roughage department.

Remember when your doctor suggested you take a handful or two of nuts every day? Well, I was doing just that with sliced cashews when they did me in. Who in their right mind would think that a handful of nuts would land a person in the hospital? Some of you haven’t been in the hospital since you gave birth, right? It was such a positive experience. Vases of lovely flowers decorated your room. You held court in your satin nightie with matching bed jacket.

Oh, how things have changed. If you thought you had a shred of dignity, when they brought you into the emergency room, abandon those thoughts. Surrender to the ubiquitous “Johnny” coat that covers your front and leaves the rear flaps of your personal tent open to the winds, displaying a scene of the ‘great international divide.’ Then you are tethered to a pole, learning to ‘pole dance’ for real with a device from which hangs your IV fluids. The pole goes where you go and it tells the multitude of health techs all your secrets.

I felt so happy to see a familiar face in the doorway – it was Rabbi Philip Lazowski [rabbi emeritus of Beth Hillel Synagogue in Bloomfield], who was making his rounds of Jewish patients. Better than taking any medicine, the rabbi raised my spirits by having me join him in reciting some familiar prayers.

“Well, at least I can get some rest while I’m here,” you think. WRONG. OH SO WRONG. It seems that every time there is a change of shifts by the nurses and medical techs, they must poke you and prod you anew, each time recording your vitals on their computers.

At least I don’t have to worry about cooking, you think. Now, let’s see, what will I order for breakfast? While I’m thinking of a stack of buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup dripping down the sides, I’m told by the nurse, “Sorry, Ms. B, you’re taking tests in the morning, so you can’t have anything to eat or drink after 9 p.m. But,” she adds, “I’ll fix you up with a pitcher of ice chips to suck on.” I wanted to fall on my knees in gratitude. I did just that, when they told me I could be discharged.

I decided to be a scrupulously careful civilian from now on. But, what’s left to eat? I wondered. My mouth watered at the thought of clear broth, cream of wheat cereal, and slice of white Wonderbread.

Who knows, a diet like that might even knock off a pound or two. Oh, glory!

Charlotte “Blu” Berman is a freelance writer living in West Hartford.

Readers are invited to submit original work on a topic of their choosing to Kolot. Submissions should be sent to judiej@jewishledger.com.

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