NEW YORK CITY–It was a relatively uneventful evening at Mayrose, a restaurant located in Manhattan’s Gramercy Park. But as Lee Romero started to choke on a piece of his chicken cordon bleu, for many of his fellow diners, that sense of peace was shattered. “I was worried about him,” said his friend, Justin Nadal, who had been eating with Romero at the time. “He was coughing really hard and turning kind of red. I asked him if he was okay. He didn’t look okay, but he said he was fine.” Nadal wasn’t the only one who felt lied to. After their waitress, Eve Blackwater, noticed that Romero was choking, she rushed to get him a glass of water. “After he took a sip of the water, I asked him if he was alright,” said Blackwater. “He said, ‘Yeah, I’m okay.’ But then he started coughing again. So if he was really okay, then why would he keep on coughing?”
According to UCLA psychologist Monique Soltani, it’s a common phenomenon for people who are choking to swear that they’re fine. “Choking displays a lack of control over one’s surroundings,” she said. “More importantly, it reveals a lack of control over one’s deepest impulses. When Lee Romero was choking, it was really nothing more than a cry for help.”
After approximately three minutes of coughing and drinking water, Romero finally stopped choking.
February 26, 2005