September 28, 2006


RandyWayneWhite.jpgSo I'm sitting in the back of the ambulance three weeks ago tonight as a paramedic asks me questions to make sure my head's on tight and my brain isn't scrambled.

"What's your soshecurty?" he asks. I tell him quickly and evenly to denote acute consciousness, albeit through gritted teeth. I hate it when people mash Social Security into one word.

"Excuse me," I tell him. "I have to make a call."

I pull out the cell phone and dial a number that was in my pocket.

"Hello?" the voice on the other end says. It's Randy Wayne White.

"Randy, it's Jeff."

"Hey. I had a great time tonight," he says graciously and enthusiastically.

"I did too," I tell him. "But I should have taken you up on your offer to stay overnight in the guest house."


"Because," I said. "I just crashed my truck."

I had spent the evening at his home in Pineland talking about food and meals consumed in exotic lands. A crime novelist and magazine writer by trade - not to mention a former fishing guide - White has a new cookbook coming out. I drove a couple hours south from Tampa to interview him. He threw 10 pounds of pork in the smoker and simmered some peanut sauce for the visit as we sat on his porch and listened to songs by his enchanting and talented paramour, Wendy Webb. He sliced the most delicious mango and avocado I've ever had and we snacked and talked for hours.

The moment that I and my photographer Jay got there, Randy insisted that we stay over rather than drive back late at night to Tampa.

So when I told Randy from the ambulance about what had happened, he was more than concerned. He asked if he could do anything and said that he knew all the best doctors at the hospital in Cape Coral if I needed help.

I told him that unfortunately the only thing I saved from the crash was the galley proofs of his cookbook. The digital recorder I used for the interview had been thrown from the truck in the dark during the rollover. My notes were somewhere in the weeds. "We're probably going to have to do this again," I told him.

"Anything you need, let me know," he said.

A couple days later when Salad Wife drove me down to get the accident report, we stopped by the crash scene. The only bits of debris we could find: the sombrero and the digital recorder, which was sunk in the mud after a couple days of rain. I clicked its buttons but got no display.

But when I got home, I changed the batteries and, viola!, the damn thing sprung to life. The entire interview was intact.

Anyway, the story I did from that night ran in today's Flavor section. There's no reason to put the story behind the story into the paper, but it's more than interesting fodder, I think, for Salad visitors. I know I wouldn't believe it if it hadn't happened to me.

Oh, and be sure to pick up his latest book, "Dark Light."

Posted by Jeff at September 28, 2006 12:05 AM | TrackBack

The best stories are ther ones behind the stories.

Posted by: al at September 28, 2006 12:13 AM
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