My brother-in-law, head chef in a New Orleans restaurant, underwent major surgery. His wife, who spent anxious hours awaiting news, supposed that the atmosphere in the operating room was comparable to what she was experiencing. Things obviously were less tense there than she had pictured.

When they wheeled my brother-in-law out, this memo was pinned to his hospital gown: "Don’t forget to give operating-room nurse recipe for remoulade sauce."