Eating Authors: William Hatfield

No Comments » Written on April 6th, 2020 by
Categories: Plugs
William Hatfield

This may sound odd to you, but nowadays when I’m working from home (to the extent that chemobrain allows me to write and edit) I tend to do so while lying on the couch in my office. Don’t misunderstand, I have a perfectly fine desk in my office. But my office chair sucks. I really should replace it. Just sitting at it for a few minutes gives me a back ache. And this from the guy who used to sit in a hard plastic booth at McD’s for hours at a time.

So, yeah, I lie on my couch. I balance the bottom edge of laptop on my chest, and I type at a vertical angle. I’ve done it for years. I first got into the habit of it while lying on my hammock (and this was back in the days before solid-state hard drives, so I burned out several forcing the thing to whir along at other than 90° angles). What can I say, it works for me.

Speaking of hammocks, what with all the money I’ve been saving by not going to McD’s and ordering a breakfast sandwich and soda every day (my medical convalescence/isolation runs for 100 days and started February 10th, you do the math), I’m going to buy a new one. The plan is to get one with its own stand so I can set it out on the deck and not have to go far. Spring hammock writing weather is just around the corner.

Which is no kind of segue at all to this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest, William Hatfield. Though, I get the impression that he’d enjoy a good hammock (maybe not for writing, but definitely for chillaxin’). You’ll find him down in Florida where, when not assaulting pianos in random bars, he divides his writing time between action/adventure science fiction (his Fists of Earth trilogy) and LGBTQ mysteries (the TNT series). As one does.

Bill kindly dropped in to share one of the most roundabout meals to ever grace this blog.

LMS: Welcome, Bill. Talk to me about your most memorable meal.

WH: Karen, my wife, is an environmental scientist. She worked in the water-sampling and testing industry for most of her adult life. Back around 2004, she heard about an opening at an environmental firm and water-testing laboratory in Savannah, Georgia. We decided to make a weekend getaway out of her interviewing for the job managing the lab.

We drove up there from Gainesville, Florida, and Karen did her interview, taking up most of Friday afternoon. By the time she finished, she was tired, and it was late afternoon, so we found a place that wasn’t anything special. In fact, it was so not special that I don’t even remember where it was, or what we ate. I think I had a steak.

Captive Audience

But we were in Savannah, which is known for its fine cuisine, wonderful eating establishments, delicious seafood, etc. So we wandered about Friday night for a little while on River Street. Saturday morning, we were back on River Street for shopping, eating, looking around, getting comfortable with the city, in case Karen got an offer.

We had lunch at some modest looking seafood restaurant on the dock, and I had a seafood bisque, lots of unknown sea creatures in it, very tasty.

No, this isn’t the meal I’m writing about.

Afterwards, we wandered up and down River Street for an hour or so. We looked at Savannah State University, whose colors are orange and blue, which was good news, since we both have drawers of UF Gator orange & blue clothing. We thought that might be a sign of a pending job offering.

I began to feel less than well, so we went back to the modest motel we were staying at in the midtown area, well to the south of the historical districts of downtown. Within twenty minutes of returning to the room, I was in the bathroom, trying to reduce my body weight to zero, using the two most obvious orifices to do so.

Recently, I’d had several bouts like this, but had thought it was either from tailgating before the Gator football game or getting over-heated. I hadn’t drank any alcohol, at least at one of the first events, but we were still trying to figure out what was causing this.

Duel Roles

This unfortunate recent development tended to mean being violently ill for about four hours, in an event that resembled the worse food-poisoning, intestinal flu, and morning after drinking too much, coincidence you could imagine.

The one thing I knew for sure, each time, was that I was dying. And at that point, it would be okay. If it only meant the gut-wrenching symptoms would end. I thought I might have seen my collarbone come out of my mouth at one point, and thought the end was imminent. This was followed by the worse migraine headache I’d ever had, except for the three previous events, and falling asleep for a couple hours.

Meanwhile, my wife had nothing to do but try and watch television, with the sound cranked up to try and drown the sounds of my dying. She later told me it didn’t work.

The frightening thing was, when I awoke, my wife was starving, because it was about nine in the evening, and so was I. I felt I was absolutely empty, and if I didn’t eat something, I would die of starvation and general gauntness.

But the idea of actually eating anything was frightening. I just knew if I did, it would most surely come back up. Or get on a bullet train that raced through my innards to get out the, um, back door.

But I was weak with hunger, and knew we both had to eat. But she wanted something simple, since the day was ruined, shot, and I had somehow turned into a whiny little…weak person.

Across the street, we could see that Golden Corral was still open. The day before, we’d joked there was no way we were going to eat there while we were in Savannah, home of the great seafood, and many, many chefs.

Tough Crowd

Long and short of it? We ate at the Golden Corral. My wife enjoyed her meal. I was afraid to eat anything spicier than cardboard. I settled on macaroni & cheese, some form of roast beef, and I believe I remember some buns or bread, along with a little ham.

The next morning, we meekly checked out and drove back to Gainesville, Florida. I think we were both relieved when the job opportunity didn’t pan out. We’ve never been back to Savannah since.

After four more events, we finally figured out I’d developed a late-in-life allergy to shrimp. We thought that might be it, after Savannah, but then I got sick twice when we would have sworn I didn’t have any shrimp.

It was some months after that, when I remembered that our neighbor and best friend Linda, who made such delicious dip I would use crackers like spoons to scoop it up, actually made “Linda’s Delicious Shrimp Dip”. I’d know that fourteen years earlier, when first introduced to it.

So, I no longer eat any shell fish, or anything that doesn’t swim like a fish, look like a fish, IS a fish, from the water. On a related note, I haven’t wished for death as a release, for over twelve years.

I have friends that ask “Don’t you want to know for sure if you’re allergic to crabs, lobster, or any of the other exotic seafood I won’t touch?”

Let’s see, do I want to try and eat something that may make me violently ill for at least six hours, make me wish for death as a release, and lose between ten and fourteen pounds, in a singularly unpleasant fashion? And no, it doesn’t stay off.

In a word?


Thanks, Bill. That all sounds truly horrific. Also, I think it’s time you and Karen reconsider this Linda person as your “best friend.”

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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