Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Calling Ralph on the Big White Phone

If I were a Super Villain, my name would be Vomitor. The cape would be shiny black satin with a big splat of pizza vomit on the back.  I would only use the Scent Activator as needed-it could spray ironically from my gold plated Anti Nausea Wrist band to cripple the hero's olfactory nerves if the initial rounds of vomiting didn't deter him/her.  If I could figure out a way to use vomiting for good, I would choose to be a good guy,named Hurly Girl, but that road seems dicey. I envision the inevitable hawking of some sort of antacid product, which is really kind of depressing for a Super Hero.

I have a real gift for upchucking. I don't mean that I can make myself vomit on cue or that I have had a history of bulimia (not for lack of trying), but I am just really adept at vomiting.

I  used to be a bartender, and  the first time someone threw up in the bathroom. Kevin, the manager, handed me the mop and said "I don't do vomit".  I recall thinking "Oh, and I do vomit? Who the fuck does vomit?". I went into the bathroom armed with the mop,candy pink elbow length rubber gloves and a roll of paper towels. The astonishing part was not how gross it was but how bad this particular person's aim was. Not even one bit of the copious amount of vomit made it into the toilet. It went into the sink, across the mirror, all over the walls, the floor, and onto the plunger behind the toilet. Either this person was making some sort of artistic statement or they were undergoing an exorcism in the bathroom that night. It was ridiculous. They also left without mentioning that they had defiled the only functional bathroom in the place.Another customer fingered a six foot four gargantuan in a blue sweatshirt who had been sweatily gyrating to the music like a domesticated sloth for most of the evening leading up to his eruption. He had been brain damaged drunk when he walked in and had obviously reached toxic levels in our humble establishment. At least he had the decency  to go into the bathroom at all-it could've turned out like the Lardass pie eating scene from "Stand by Me",which is one of the best projectile vomiting scenes ever.


I  happened to run in to the perpetrator at Ross Dress For Less a few weeks later. He was wearing the same blue sweatshirt and wasn't nearly at sweaty, but he was with the same two friends. I gave him the stink eye, and he looked embarrassed but said nothing. I was tempted introduce myself as an art curator-cum-bartender who just saw his work up close and personal and wanted to encourage him to start a  trend of pop-up-bodily -functions-as-performance-art-pieces. It would have been fun asking him to explain the significance of the regurgitated pepperoni slices on the roll of toilet paper,but I let it go.

I was disdainful of  his obvious lack of skills in the bathroom because I had been baring  my guts to the world  for years and had never created such a horror show with the contents of my stomach.Way before pregnancy nausea had me driving the porcelain bus on a regular basis, I used to get really bad hangovers from minimal drinking, which worsened when I began working at the bar. It was  was filled with cigarette smoke for the eleven hours that I was there. I smoked and had a drink or two.The customers all smoked,too. Somehow it was supposed to be healthier because we all smoked American Spirits. It was disgusting, and I suppose my body was telling me something by having me perform peristaltic pyrotechnics at least six times and often ten or twelve times throughout the following day. My record is fourteen times in one day. That feat was accomplished during a weekend getaway in Tucson, Arizona after a smoky bar shift, bumpy plane ride, and two glasses of wine at dinner. I woke up at six a.m,retching, and was soon on my way to a record setting performance. We got in the car to go get breakfast and stopped twice en route for me to puke by the side of the road.  Once we got to town, I tossed my cookies  in the garbage can outside the crowded coffee shop and ralphed in a supermarket parking lot on the way back to the hotel. My poor confused future husband got out of the car each time and stood over me, which was kind of weird. He said later that he was worried that someone might try and bother me. I assured him that not even the evilest rapist would approach a vomiting woman.

The heaving continued until I reached number fourteen, and then I finally stopped. I recovered, as I usually do, by about five o'clock. The reliable remedy of a  real Coke,water and some sleep  generally brought me back to the light, though my future husband was a little shaken by the whole thing. He wasn't (and still isn't) a huge vomit fan, I guess.

Looking on the bright side, my frequent bouts of vomiting forced me to be resourceful. I had to figure out accessible,realistic repositories on the fly. I usually had about fifteen seconds to find an appropriate location before gallons of bile forced  its way up my esophageal canal, promising a resplendent Technicolor yawn if I didn't act fast. Maneuvering  in public required some skills- discretion,deftness, coordination, neatness, forethought. The gargantuan at the bar pissed me off so much because he had actually made it into the bathroom-he had no excuse for redecorating the place. Making it there is ninety percent of the battle. I have vomited into a paper bag while driving on the freeway, while sitting in the passenger seat of more vehicles than I can count, outside of a cemetery near Philadelphia, in many alleys,driveways and random garbage cans. I always strove for containment,so I apologize if there were stray chunks or misguided matter of any kind. I really do. Vomit is  vile and no one should have to clean any up that didn't come from their body or the body of their offspring.

My apparent allergy to alcohol combined with mass quantities of cigarette smoke waned, and I can now drink like Bukowski  and not get violently ill. I no longer smoke, or work at that bar, so  I have not had to use my vomiting skills for some time,which is a good thing, I suppose. I did notice, to my delight,  that I may have my lent my barfing skills to Little, my youngest. Over the weekend, after an afternoon of hard swimming(and swallowing lots of salty pool water),early dinner at upscale Italian bistro, and eating an enormous scoop of non-dairy Oreo caramel ice cream purchased from a surly college student behind the counter at Scoops, she started complaining that her tummy hurt. We were in the car, a few minutes from the house. I told her to hang tight, and that we would be home soon. She brought it up again as we pulled into the driveway and was rushing up the stairs and yelling for me to open the door as soon as she got out of the car. I did, and she rushed into the dark house. Before I could get the light on, I heard her starting to throw up.She kneeled on the ground in the foyer and vomited onto the rug- the fifteen dollar  thrift store rug. She kindly avoided the much more expensive impossible to clean shag rug in the living room that lay a foot to her left. I placed a towel underneath her to contain the mess and after a few dry heaves, she got up and said she was done. As we walked into the kitchen, she announced that there was more and rushed to the bathroom. Watching her little almost four year old hands clutching the toilet seat, listening to her measured breathing as I held her hair made me feel so proud that she is well on her way to having this vomit thing mastered at such a young age. Later, she threw up again, and I beamed as she concentrated on doing it just right,just like her mom. Not a drop outside the bowl. She wasn't sick- I just think she has my constitution, which is generally healthy but prone to hives and stomach upset.

I guess it would be nice to think that I had passed on my intelligence,which is questionable, or my great gams, which are also questionable, but I do know this- my kid has at least one measurable talent. The jury is still out on artistic leanings, sports and academics, but she can hurl like a rock star. That's my girl.