Rick Rogers: Next time, I’ll pass on the mashed potatoes

Rick Rogers

So, there I was the day after Christmas, sitting in the balcony of the beautiful and historic Fox Theatre in St. Louis waiting for the music to start for the introduction of the hit Broadway musical “Wicked.”

I had purchased tickets a month in advance as a Christmas gift for my wife, Elizabeth, and myself. She is a big fan of the show, and yes, I am manly enough to admit that I too enjoy the music.

So, it is safe to admit, that both of us were looking forward to seeing the show, which tells the story of how the Wicked Witch of the West from “Wizard of Oz” fame became wicked, and how she and Glenda the Good Witch became friends.

Then, when the music started I started to feel a rumble in my belly. A few seconds later, I excused myself from my seat and ran to the restroom thinking to myself, “I do not throw up in the Fox Theatre. I do not throw up in the Fox Theatre.”

Anyway, the real story of the production was how one newspaperman spent seven-eighths of the show sitting in a chair — that had to be 50 years old and looked like it was made for a king — in the lobby near death while the music played on.

The day before we spent Christmas at my grandma’s house. Grandma is getting a little up there in years, and it seems these past few Christmas dinners have become a little too stressful for her to handle.

But, her response to our pleas to move Christmas dinner to another house is, “As long as I am alive, I am having Christmas at my house.”

When Grandma speaks… we listen.

So, Grandma did the usual — she cooked enough food to feed a small army, not a family of 12. Three kinds of meat, all different types of side dishes, and six, count them, six pies.

So, we ate, and ate, and ate.

Then, a few hours later, members of my family started becoming ill one, by one, by one. First, it was my youngest sister who ran to the bathroom. Then, my Dad spent the rest of the night locked in his bedroom. Soon later, my other sister and aunt went down sick.

Grandma didn’t give us a lump of coal for Christmas — she gave us food poisoning.

The next day I went down ill — at the Fox Theatre, mind you — as did my cousin.

So, needless to say, my special Christmas date with the wife didn’t pan out too well.

While I spent most of the show doubled over in a chair with passers-by staring at me with inquisitive looks on their faces, Elizabeth sat on the edge of her seat and soaked in all the sounds and sights of one of Broadway’s bests.

And she didn’t mind telling me all about it on the ride home… over, and over, and over again.

The illness didn’t last long, less than 48 hours, and I was back on my feet. And now, as I return to work and make my rounds in town, I have a great story to tell when people ask the question, “What did you do for Christmas?”

I just tell them, “I went to visit my grandma, and she gave me a great gift — food poisoning.”

I think next year I am going to hope for a simple lump of coal, and make sure to take a pass on the mashed potatoes.

Rick Rogers is the publisher of The Neosho Daily News. His “Family Matters” column publishes on Fridays. If you know anyone who has tickets to see “Wicked” when it comes to Kansas City this spring and has an extra seat, please e-mail him at He is not kidding.