Don’t let a lack of spendable cash keep you from living the high life. In this weekly column, standup comic Danny Lobell explains how to live a Playboy lifestyle on a welfare budget. This…is Budget Ballin’.
This Week’s Lesson: Mexican Food is Delicious, Part 1
It’s a freezing cold Sunday night in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. The snow from the recent blizzard covers the broken sidewalks and icicles hang from buildings. At 12 a.m., the neighborhood is desolate and the streets are cleared. I scream in a panic: “I’m dying! I’m dying!”
Last month, I was convinced I was a dead man. It all started with me noticing a rash on my arm. If there’s one piece of advice I can give you, it’s to stay away from that evil internet monster demon known as WebMD. WebMD and I have met before. It was in Paris. We didn’t know each other back then. We were alone together in a foreign city and we both spoke English. I guess we naturally gravitated towards each other.
What seemingly started out as a helpful buddy in med school offering some friendly advice ultimately left me broken up in pieces in my hotel room. WebMD had lead me to believe that I had gotten AIDS that night from a hooker I had made out with in a club after having pierced my lip accidentally with a crispy piece of hamburger meat earlier that day. That right there could be its own article and maybe it will be one day. But that’s not what we’re talking about here today. Today we’re talking about every fat man’s worst nightmare: Developing a disease so heinous that it has death in its very name, it begins with the word “die.” I’m talking about; diabetes!
Diabetes, dialysis, diet. Thoughts going through my head: If I had been on a DIEt, I wouldn’t have gotten DIEabetes, which results in DIEalysis, and then before I know it I will DIE! DIEANU! So a rash on my arm, along with my increase in urination and some dizziness typed into WebMD equals, “You’re on your way out, buddy.” The computer basically told me I had unequivocally and most definitely developed the disease. Thoughts start racing through my head, like “I can’t afford to take care of myself,” “I’ll probably lose a leg,” “I won’t be able to tour,” “my career is over,” “my life is over,” etc. etc. And the worst of all, my parents are going to say, “I told you so!”
I start calling everyone I know who has diabetes in my phone book asking for advice. My good friend Patrice O’Neal spends an hour on the phone with me explaining how to live with diabetes. But before the conversation ends, he decides it was probably a waste of his time because I am, “a crazy neurotic Jew and this all might just be some of that crazy Jewish shit.”
Next I call my friend Pat Carlin. You might remember him from my very first Budget Ballin’ article. After I pour my heart out to him, and express all my deepest darkest fears, he simply replies, “Don’t be a pussy, if you need to, stick a needle in your arm and get on with life man, shhiit c’mon.”
Hours later I’m on the subway with my girlfriend (on her birthday) breaking the news to her: “I’m a dying man.” I was expecting her to leave me but she thought that was actually insulting. Then she got more insulted when I said I might leave if it was the other way around. I never realized you’re supposed to stay with people through illness. I thought that was an escape clause. You shouldn’t have to stay with people in that case if it ain’t what you signed up with. Marriage vows should read “I will stay with you in sickness or in health unless the sickness is one of the following…then it’s my call.” I don’t want to be forced to be a home health aid for life against my will. I think that’s just fair.
After getting through performing on a weird Russian show in the middle of nowhere Brooklyn (all the while thinking that it’s only a matter of time before I can’t do this anymore), my girlfriend and I walked 20 blocks to a Rite Aid in the dead of night when it was freezing cold. I bought a do-it-yourself diabetes test that the Asian pharmacist told me might be inconclusive. It was! On the way back home, my girlfriend saw a Mexican restaurant she wanted to eat at for her birthday dinner. I reluctantly agreed and sat there as she ate a burrito, exclaiming how amazing it was. I didn’t order anything because at that point I didn’t know what a dying man could or couldn’t eat.
Turns out, Patrice was right. I was going to live another day (or many other days). I freaked out over nothing thanks to WebMD. The rash was caused by the cold winter, the urination a result of my increased love for drinking full bottles of Seltzer and the dizziness is sleep related. Two good things came out of this whole ordeal though. One: A strong wake up call and two: The discovery of the best Burrito’s in NYC.
But the ordeal wasn’t over just yet.
To be continued…