Jon Reiner is the author of 'The Man Who Couldn't Eat,' a memoir of his months spent without ingesting any food - a "nothing by mouth" order - due to a ruptured intestine, a rare complication from Crohn's disease.
“Look at the bright side. I won’t have to worry about Don undercooking my burger. Cooking over an open flame is tough to regulate, I grant you, but you’d think that after thirty years he’d have it down.”
Artie starts to chuckle, but stops himself awkwardly and swallows the laugh I’d hoped for. I want a comeback from him - “that’s in poor taste,” “you get what you pay for” - a softball I can connect with and knock out of the park, but his eyes are anxious and shift down to the full plate of food on his lap. The conversation stops. It’s hard for my old friend to laugh at a science project.
We’re sitting on the screened porch of Don and Tina’s Maine lake house for their annual end-of-summer party, but I’m not eating today. I won’t touch the red hamburgers and the potluck covering the picnic table: fruit salad cradled in a watermelon shell; marinated cucumbers and fiddlehead ferns; cole slaw; pasta salad; baked beans; and my wife’s deviled eggs.