Birmingham Man Released from Hospital After Drinking Unsweet Tea at Southside Restaurant

A Birmingham man was released from St. Vincent’s Hospital this morning after a touch-and-go night in the Emergency Room. Rapid responders were called to the scene of a Southside restaurant Thursday evening where Lee Hightower and his wife, Geneva, had planned to enjoy an anniversary dinner. However, the celebration ended abruptly when Mr. Hightower had an attack of the vapors after being served a large glass of unsweet tea.

“It was terrible to watch,” Geneva said. “He was thirsty and got a real big gulp of it. A real big gulp.”

Witness reports vary but all agreed that what followed was traumatic for everyone especially Melanie Grubbs, the server who brought Mr. Hightower the incorrect beverage. Grubbs was given a mild sedative and taken to the back alley for some fresh air but patrons could still hear her screaming, “You said unsweet! You said unsweet!”

During the aftermath, Mr. Hightower reportedly fell to the floor and had a good, old-fashioned hissy fit. It’s understood that, while lying on his back, shoulders pressed firmly to the ground, he wildly kicked his legs into the air which one witness said was, “really impressive when he got both them going at the same time, sort of like a Forked-tail catfish outta water.”

The Emergency Response Team reported that Mr. Hightower begged them to, “Get me a green persimmon so I can get this taste out of my mouth.”

Governor Kay Ivey has set up an Unsweet Tea Support Hotline not only for people who were at the restaurant and their families but for the wider public who may be affected by the sad state of events. She held a press conference early Friday at the time of Hightower’s release during which she issued this statement:

“Mr. Hightower and his family have asked me to thank you all for this outpouring of support. Your tweets are like gold to them. They will not pursue this matter through the Alabama Justice System. There is no evidence to suggest, nor do they believe, that there was malicious intent when Miss Grubbs presented Mr. Hightower with the bitter swill. As soon as he can speak again, Mr. Hightower will address you himself. The good doctors here at St. Vincent’s have provided excellent care and expect that Mr. Hightower’s tongue cast will be removed in approximately 4 to 6 weeks and that his taste buds will make a complete recovery. Let this be a lesson to those of us who are quick to raise a tea glass to our mouths. Pour beverages for yourself or confirm first: this is sweet tea, isn’t it? Ask before you sip and never gulp unless you are sure.”


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Before I get too far into this, let me state for the record:

I do not have children, biological or otherwise.

There were a few vague months spent in Mississippi back in the mid-90s which I can’t account for with complete accuracy. But I’m pretty sure that I didn’t give birth during that time.

I say pretty sure because, now that I think about it, I did find a bottle of neonatal vitamins in the back of my car. There was no reason for me to have a bottle of neonatal vitamins. But there was also a circular saw and the torso of a shop mannequin which was zebra striped with spray paint. I don’t suppose there was a reason for those things to be in my car either.

About me having children though, while I have none of my own, I do have three nephews. They should count as mine in a partial sort of way because I 1) bought them a lot of stuff and 2) my behavior held some sway in their overall delinquency. And, after all, isn’t that what parents do to a large extent? Buy their kid lots of stuff and affect their development in either a positive, negative, or combo/biggie sized sort of way?

Ah, yes… I’ll have the number 3 Combo. Value sized. With hang-ups about my body on that Bruised Self-Image and instead of Codependence, I’ll have… let me see… I’ll have Unable to Maintain Intimate Relationships. And can I please add a large order of Controlling Parents resulting in Stubborn Children? Great, thanks…

I love my nephews and couldn’t imagine anything happening to them unless I did it myself. I mean, haven’t we all fantasized about throwing children into the drainage ditch behind Wal-Mart?





My nephews are older now. They could get themselves out of the drainage ditch behind Wal-Mart if I threw them in there. Nephew 1 has two kids of his own. (Side Note to Nephews 2 & 3: I’m not convinced that spreading our genes any further is the best idea. Perhaps we should do everybody a favor and let Nephew 1’s contribution to the population be our apology to the world. May those two precious demon spawn go forth and prosper.)

Even though the three boys aren’t technically my children, I still know what it feels like to be all Mother Bear about them. What I’m trying to say is, I sort of get it. I sort of get parenthood as much as a person who hasn’t actually had children of her own can sort of get it.

Tonight I went out for a drive with my dog.

Yeah, that wasn’t a very smooth segue, was it? All the parents reading this who were already skeptical about giving me the benefit of the doubt about ‘getting’ parenthood are now rolling their eyes and clicking off this page never to return. “Did you see what she wrote? She went out for a drive with her dog? I’ve got three kids, chewed up Cheerios in my hair, and school just started back. But this bitch went out for a drive with her dog. OH, and she sort of gets parenthood…”

So, tonight I went out for a drive. While I was out I saw one of these signs in a neighbor’s front yard:


The Drive Like Your Kids Live Here website offers some soul-crushing statistics about how many children are injured or mortally wounded per year in motor vehicle accidents.

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children 14 years of age and younger!

  • Every day in the United States an average of 3 children are killed in motor vehicle accidents!

  • Every day in the United States an average of 500 children are injured in motor vehicle accidents!

  • Every day motor vehicles kill more children than any disease!

None of these statistics are laughing matters and I’m not trivializing the importance of the campaign. If anything, I want you to share a laugh with me here,  go and buy one of these signs, and put it in your yard asap.

But, I mean… come on! It does leave some room…

When the dog and I got home, I posted a quick ha-ha on Facebook about the sign I saw but, the more I think about it, the more I mean it.

Imagine: Typical Southern Momma Voice:

Drive like YOUR kids live here? Uh-uh… That’s assuming way too much. You best drive like MY kids live here and you KNOW I’m gone whoop your butt if you come tearing by like a bat out of hell.

Drive like your kids live here, my foot. Cos, I’ve seen the way some of y’all raise them little heathens. Don’t be driving like them miscreants is in my neighborhood or you’ll wake up one morning with four flat tires and one of these signs parked where the sun don’t shine. Can I get an amen?



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The three of us sat around the kitchen table doing our best to ignore each other when Eliot came hobbling in and said, “I’m going to be teaching a banana handling class today.”

My sister, who usually doesn’t say anything until she’s finished her first cup of morning coffee, looked at her middle son and, without a hint of irony, asked, “Is that a euphemism?”

Her husband, who was playing chess on his tablet, snarled and said, “Please!”

Eliot limped over to the refrigerator and took out an alarmingly large bottle of Pepto-Bismol.

He was limping because his foot was broken. The story we got was vague, as are all his stories. The story, as he told it, involved pushing his car onto a soft shoulder after said car quit on the NASA bypass. The break and accompanying bruising gave me an immediate mental image of him kicking the bumper, but who am I to contradict him?

Eliot turned up the Pepto and drank freely from the crusty bottle which had apparently lost its cap. As I watched him take one prolonged swig after another, I felt my own stomach revolting and sending waves of wretchedness that reminded me of nothing less than acid drenched toenail shavings rising in the back of my throat. Yet there I was, unable to look away.

When he was done, he wiped his mouth with the sleeve of his shirt and put the bottle back in the refrigerator. “No,” he said. “It’s a real thing. They’re paying me extra too.”

This elicited a snarf from his father who looked up from the game. “And what do you know about banana handling?”

I said, “Dear God, I’m begging you. Please do not answer that.”

Eliot laughed, grabbed a hat off the coatrack, and limped out the backdoor.

A hush fell over the house again. The only sounds came from the three Doberman who were still asleep and snoring on the whole of a forest green sectional sofa; my brother-in-law, who was still playing chess and maintaining a low-grade, mumbled disagreement with the expert computer opponent; and, from outside, the occasional percussion of a bull who lived across the street in a fenced field, playing with a large blue drum which he was fond of gorging into the air and sometimes smashing against a large tin shed.

It was only after a considerable time had passed that my sister looked up with an expression as if she’d been away with the fairies, “Did he say banana handling?”


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