The Pseudobulbar Affect or Involuntary Emotional Expression Disorder (IEED) is an emotional liability or an emotional incontinence. This neurologic disorder is characterized by involuntary crying or uncontrollable laughter. In laymen's terms, it's an internal defense mechanism that allows certain individuals (like me) deal with the stress of a tragedy...or even less dire situations involving anger, frustration etc. A prime example would be someone (other than me) laughing at a funeral. While this behavior would seem inappropriate to other mourners and embarrassing to the PBA sufferer, psychologists agree that this venting of tension is a normal response to acute pressure.
In my case, I don't laugh at funerals. But the long reach of PBA does extend to my reaction to vomit, (honestly, I had to stop typing just now because I was laughing at the thought of the word).
I really can't explain it but as my son Andrew would attest, my laughing disorder is not limited to the one word, vomit. It also includes many "getting sick" synonyms such as; barf, puke (yes I am laughing heartily at this moment as tears stream from my eyes), as well as, hurl, spew forth, retch, heave, throw up, toss one's cookies or upchuck.
I am so intensely nauseated by the word "vomit" that I laugh. Even worse, when I see someone do "it," I usually do too, (this is not a good position to be in, in casino work...but THAT'S another story). My point will be proven by a conversation I had at work, with a clean-up guy.
In Las Vegas, the casino clean-up squad are called, "porters." Here in Atlantic City they are the Environmental Service Department, (EVS). For over ten years, I've been friendly with Ruben, an EVS man originally from Albania. Ruben speaks great English and is proud to now be an American citizen. However, he is occasionally difficult to understand. I remember years ago asking him why he was so sad. Ruben said, "I just cleaned womit." This was not a good time for me to forget that he pronounces "V" like "W." I shrugged, "What's womit?" The poor guy said, "You know, throw up, barf..." Before he got to a third example, the picture of a puke puddle on the imported Italian marble floor came to mind. I couldn't help myself...I laughed in his face. I was ashamed as I held a hand over my mouth and scurried away.
I remember telling Ruben's womit story to Andrew. I think he might have been too young to understand that I wasn't disrespectful of Ruben's difficult job...but it was a weakness in me that prohibits my brain from processing the concept of getting sick in the normal manner. When I thought I wasn't making myself clear, I reminded Andrew that when he was a little kid and something (relatively bad) went wrong...like bumping his head on a coffee table, I would distract him from his pain,with a key word that always made him laugh.
Maybe I'm a better father than I give myself credit for because I discovered that five-year old Andrew laughed every time he heard the word, "goat." It shouldn't sound far-fetched...that concept might be linked to him inheriting my PBA gene? Please note, the word "guppy" worked too but without the consistent effect of, "goat."
The word goat, even as Andrew matured, (a lot faster than I did), has remained a happy term between us. Coincidentally, earlier this week, many oriental cultures celebrated their New Year. That's why I think this year is going to bring monumental positive energy because throughout East Asia, the Chinese, astrological zodiac chart, represented by a twelve-year cycle of animals, has named 2015 as, "The Year of the Goat."
I hope that my Andrew, after he laughs at the mention of the word goat, finds serenity and good fortune in 2015. Because, next week, he will be crossing into true adulthood with his hallmark twenty-first birthday.
According to their zodiac chart, this year, dog people will experience a general stability in their lives. Whatever trouble they encounter can be easily handled with tolerance. Progress in their careers will be temporarily sidetracked. But through diplomacy, patience and hard work, their future upward mobility won't be jeopardized.
Of course, I don't put any stock in horoscopes. However, it is amazing how they are general enough to fit most people. I can't wait to share these thoughts with Andrew when we all celebrate his big milestone birthday next week with his friends, Tom and Matt.
|HILLSBORO NEW JERSEY - JANUARY 2014. THE "ATM" STARRING, ANDREW, (left), TOM (right) AND MATT (center) .|
For Andrew's first legal taste of alcohol, he has selected Houlihan's, a restaurant/bar at the Mercer Mall in Lawrenceville NJ. Apparently, it's trendy to go there because this watering-hole does something special for newly crowned "adult" birthday celebrants, (apparently it's also necessary to keep dear old dad in the dark as to what exactly that something special is).
|ESTABLISHED IN KANSAS (1972), HOULIHAN'S HAS EIGHTY-FOUR USA LOCATIONS, IN EIGHTEEN STATES. THEY ARE KNOWN FOR FINE DINING AS WELL AS PUB FARE.|
I love my son, I'm also especially fond of both Tom and Matt. So I'm not setting any food boundaries. However, my mama didn't raise no fool. So, having nothing to do with economics, I'll be limiting the ATM to two alcoholic beverages each with one additional caveat...ominous sounding cocktails will be strictly verboten like; Corpse Reviver, Zombie, Paralyzer and Irish Car Bomb.
|NOBODY'S GETTING PICKLED BY ANYTHING CALLED A "GRAVE DIGGER" OR AN "OPEN GRAVE" ON MY WATCH.|
Obviously, even though they are "of age," I don't want to be responsible for getting them too liquored up. First, I wouldn't want you to lose that saintly, perfectly well-adjusted image you have of me. Secondly, I don't want to lose that ideal, halo-encrusted conception I have of the "ATM.". More importantly, you know what they say about an ounce of prevention. ***NOBODY ***is losing their friggin' lunch from drinking too much, in my car...because I'll probably die from laughing so hard.
You wanna know the deeper reason why I'm not letting the "fire-water" flow? Because I've been there. I know how "intoxicated"inexperienced drinkers can get with unlimited, free, (or extremely inexpensive) booze.
In my early years of drinking, a bar, (Grandma's) on Nostrand Avenue, (near my old Alma Mater, Brooklyn College), offered a five-dollar entrance fee for "nickel beer night." They even had a live band, (I wonder who would appear in such a rat trap?) I went with DRJ7 and GRAMPS, (no relation to the establishment's proprietor).
I have few clear recollections of that night. One was that the place was jammed...but even with a band, zero females were attracted to this nickel beer gimmick. Another was, at some point, I was so wasted that I sat in a phone booth (facing out) and vomited between my legs, (pretty funny, eh).
Yes, my PBA has me laughing as I type this. So it's important to mention that Grandma's was such a classy joint that management did NOT rush over to tend to my mess or eject me.
More importantly, while retching, through the din of the music and ten simultaneous conversations, I overheard bits and pieces of a chat between two strangers. One guy said, "Hey Ernie, where's your brother Eric?" Even without being fully lucid, my storehouse of useless information started running through old files. Despite being impaired, my mind went into overdrive. When something clicked, my vaunted memory pulled out the document I was searching for. I struggled to my feet and staggered to my target. I'm not sure what put them off more, me interrupting or the pronounced gob of putrid spittle on my chin. But for the sake of a good laugh, they heard me out.
I said to the taller fellow, "Are you Ernie?" He smiled, "Yeah." After a mammoth, caustic belch into their faces I said, "You have a twin brother Eric?" Ernie took a half step backwards and said, "Yeah." My voice went up an octave in anticipation as I said, "Did you go to Wingate Day Camp in 1963?" Like looking at a lunatic Ernie squinted at me and stammered, "Y-y-yeah." Then in triumph I said, "We were best buddies!." My long lost friend fought off my bear hug because he had no recollection of me.
In my incapacitated state, I told him what I remembered about our past. I cinched the deal when I recited the cross street of his grandparents bakery in Manhattan Beach, (they don't call me, "INSTANT RECALL EDELBLUM" for nothing). Even though his brother Eric didn't remember me from camp either, we wound-up with many mutual Brooklyn College friends...including DRJ7 and GRAMPS.
DRJ7 and GRAMPS were smart enough to let Ernie and Eric drive me home. Their wisdom was proven when I stuck my head out the window as we crossed Ralph Avenue and painted the outside of their late-model, white Plymouth Coronet.
My main objective next week will be to usher in, "The Year of the Goat," while hosting Andrew's birthday...without enabling any drunken causalities. So in honor of the month-long celebration of Andrew's twenty-first birthday, let's all lift our goblets of skim milk high and salute my officially adult son. May he continue to spiral upward and maintain the wonderful traits of straightforwardness, faithfulness and fairness while remaining smart, warmhearted and fun (his virtues far surpass the Chinese zodiac or any other astronomical chart).
To a loving MAN who inspires confidence in others, HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANDREW! And while you're at my little Farnsworth, remain stubborn to your principles when you know you are right!
EPILOGUE - To my knowledge, Grandma's never offered another, "nickel beer" night. Do you suppose, it was because of me? Hee-hee-hee...