Open Wide: The French Fry Snafu

In the spirit of full disclosure, I did — once and only once — embarrass myself as the ultimate wheelman. Ironically, it happened on the very first day I possessed a full and valid Connecticut driver’s license.

I had borrowed my mother’s massive Buick Estate Wagon — the ones with the fake wood on the side —and had finished caddying two loops (36 holes) with two bags. I had a cool $76 in my pocket, so I stopped to buy French fries at McDonald’s and headed down a back road littered with long driveways leading to giant estates. I dropped the fries. I went down to pick them up and lost track of time; Frank could teach me how to drive, but common sense was still my own cross to bear.

While I was retrieving the fries, I crossed over to the oncoming lane. I looked up just in time to say hello to a giant stone estate marker. After eating a substantial chunk of the steering wheel, I stepped out completely dazed and bloody.

The next thing I know, I’m in a surgical theater, doped up, looking up at a young resident and a cop. My mouth is stuffed with gauze so I can’t speak.

“You’re a lucky young man,” the doctor says. “That was quite a wreck everyone is saying. One of the hospital’s best oral surgeons is on his way.”

“We pulled your father off the golf course kid. He’s on the way,” says the cop.

My heart hits my throat, but all I can say is, “UUUHHHGG, NNAAAHHOOOOO.”

My mind starts to register my fate. Sure enough, golf cleats on hard tile floors can be heard in the distance. The cleats are coming hard and fast. I hear police radios approaching us along with the cleats. The cop and doctor look to where the noise is coming from, than look at one another as the hurricane approaches. They back away from me.

The cleats are in the surgical theater and suddenly stop. I can’t turn my head sideways but I don’t need to. I brace myself. It sounds like the surgeon has arrived and he’s sputtering some nonsense to placate the maniacal tumbleweed that had arrived by escort.

“He’s had some periodontal collapse and will need some teeth capped and quite a few stitches, but all in all, he came out of that wreck quite miraculously. I passed the car on the way here.”

Suddenly, a large, hairy hand grabs my face and turns it so he can better see the damage to my mouth.

The surgeon pleads. “Please — we need to keep him sterile.”

I look up at my father, JAMES M. LAROSSA ESQ. and I manage a slight snicker at him and to get a small piece of my tongue out of my mouth. He withdraws his hand and nugs the top of my head with his knuckle — not too hard as I’m on an operating table. A huge baritone voice utters the unmistakable word: “ASSHOLE!”

The cleats begin to move away now that he knows his beloved namesake will live to torture him another day. Even though my face is still stuffed with gauze, I try with all my might to counter my father — “AFFFFFFFSSOLEEE!” I yell as loud as I can to no avail.

The cleats are clicking on the hard floor, getting farther away, but I can still hear my father sing out –


The cleats and police scanners are suddenly gone. I start to laugh uncontrollably and say “AFFFFSSOLEEE” but the blood fills my mouth.

“Clean the kid up, for fuck’s sake,” said the rattled surgeon to his resident.

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