Relay: Happy Valentine’s Day, Honey!

   Since I’m having surgery on that part of my leg that I promised in my last column I would never write about again on the morning after Valentine’s Day, it’s a sure bet that my husband and I will be spending Valentine’s Day at home watching “Jeopardy” while he cooks dinner.
    It will be even better if there is a storm raging outside and wind and rain thrashing against our windows, with a fire burning in the woodstove and my dog at my feet.
    We watch “Jeopardy” every night and our favorite part of the show is the little stories the contestants tell Alex to give the audience a peek into their personalities. If their stories are any indication, they might want to think about getting a new life.
    One guy, an adult, bragged about squeezing 13 people into a bathroom. Another whined that his favorite cereal was discontinued, forcing him to search all the local supermarkets for it. He finally found one that had four boxes left, so he scooped them all up.
    That’s the best they can come up with on national television, with all their old high school chums watching?
    Oh, the tales I could tell Alex. One of the best, though, is from when I was three months pregnant and visiting my mother on City Island in the Bronx, where I grew up. After a family dinner, I was suddenly doubled over with stomach cramps. Either my mother had just poisoned me or I was having a miscarriage.
    I was rushed to the hospital and it turned out my appendix was ready to burst, which is never a good thing to have happen when you’re pregnant. I needed emergency surgery, stat! At this point Alex would chuckle and say something comforting and move on to the next contestant. But I’d grab his arm and say, “But Alex, wait, you have to hear the rest of the story.”
    Because it was so early in my pregnancy there were no visible signs of a pregnancy and not enough time to run a test. They had to take my word for it, which, for some odd reason, they seemed reluctant to do. Jeez, I didn’t think I looked like a liar. Why would anyone lie about a pregnancy unless they wanted to trap the guy they’re with? I had already hooked him a few years earlier with my charm and good looks.
    They couldn’t knock me out so they gave me an epidural and told me I’d probably lose the baby, our first, and one that was desperately wanted. While I was on the operating table my brother, an anesthetist, was in the room. I could feel them cutting my belly open and flashed upon a fish being filleted with its guts running out. I was a bit wobbly from the sedation but aware enough to know that my brother was looking on. I didn’t want him to see my bits and pieces, so I asked him to leave.
    While all this was going on, my family called my husband, who had stayed back in Montauk and told him to get in there and bring whatever he thought I might need. When he arrived he brought with him his slippers that I often wore around the house and were about four sizes bigger than mine — not a pair I would wear in public.
    After the surgery I couldn’t laugh at all because it hurt so badly. My sister came in the room and as she went to kiss me tripped over the clodhopper slippers and fell right on my belly, which was stitched up like a zipper. (A bikini cut was out of the question for a pregnant woman.) Her fall, besides hurting me, made me pop a few stitches, but also made me laugh until tears ran out of my eyes.
    People are usually encouraged to walk around after surgery to expel the gas that is in their body after they’ve been cut open. My cousin Ricky, who was more like a brother to me since he practically lived in our house (my mother and her sister were married to brothers), pushed my intravenous pole while we walked the corridor with me tooting away, mortified, but without a choice.
    I’m having the surgery on the day after Valentine’s Day and I expect a bit more tooting on the car ride home. I hope it’s a nice day so we can keep the car windows open. But we’ve been married for 38 years and have been through an awful lot as a couple, what’s a little flatulence between lovers? Happy Valentine’s Day, honey! Toot, toot, toot-toot, toot.

    Janis Hewitt is a senior writer for The Star.