WORDS BY MARY LUCIA
It doesn’t happen often, but when I throw up, it’s a big deal.
You may be thinking “Looch, is the creative well that dry? Please don’t write an entire column about heaving.” Well, if you don’t have the stomach for it, keep moving.
Vomiting is one of the most violent natural acts our bodies perform: Complete physical rejection. Nope, not going to tolerate another sip of Jägermeister or another bite of bad sushi. The threat of this dramatic upchuck function has plagued me for years.
As a kid, I would lay in bed sweating and praying my nausea would magically disappear on its own. I would resist until the last possible second, which clearly made it worse than it needed to be.
On occasion, a frustrated parent would casually offer: “Just do it. You’ll feel better instantly.” I knew that to be true, but I would do just about anything before kneeling in front of a toilet. I also had thoughtful older siblings who would taunt me through the bathroom door by conjuring disgusting combinations like fat gristle on ham and wet toast in the sink to get things rolling.
Thought for the future me. My family would make terrible birthing coaches if they had all improbably decided to become doulas. “Oh man the head is huge and pointed it’s ripping your vag in half! Stop pushing!”
As I got older, the buildup got slightly less terrible. Specifically, when I lived alone, I felt the need to practically call someone—anyone—afterwards to notify them of my barfing incident. Someone should know that this retching occurred. It felt that important. On par with leaving a midnight voicemail like “I just shoved all of my fingers into an electric fan, there’s blood on my ceiling, I’m missing digits, but it happened and it’s over. Later.”
In my twenties, I contracted norovirus and a roommate came home while I was lying in bed praying the lord would take me. That day, they decided to make tacos. Conveniently my room was just off the kitchen, garbage can, and cat boxes. I could barely raise my voice above a hoarse whisper for 30 minutes, silently begging them to please stop from my darkened room. Oh, goody you’re now draining the grease off the gray meat—in that moment I should’ve been given my last rites, or I would’ve been fine with being buried alive.
I believe norovirus is also known as “Cruise Ship Flu.” Just one more reason being stranded on a boat confined with tourists, fun group activities, and questionable entertainment is not on my bucket list.
The drama aspect eventually gave way to dicey humor. Mainly in the inexplicable need I felt to contain my vomit. Clearly, one is not in close range of clean porcelain at all times. Getting creative in cars was definitely a thing. Didn’t matter if it was my car, your whip, a taxi—it was inconceivable that I would let it rip without at least trying to fashion a receptacle of some kind.
I’ve chosen to throw up in my purse on more than one occasion and also resourcefully once used the hood of my sweatshirt. The idea of an open car window seemed to require some maneuvering and aiming skills I didn’t possess. My cupped hands even seemed a better alternative. Why I had so much reverence for someone’s crappy vinyl upholstery that I would rather be tasked with cleaning out my last meal among the contents of my purse makes little sense.
I know this sounds like a major copout, but I have such a hair-trigger gag reflex that it makes properly cleaning the bathroom difficult. Just the act of kneeling on the tile, and if my head is remotely near the eau de toilette, I need to scramble away to fill my lungs with something other than Clorox and man urine. I’ve been up front with the men I’ve lived with: You have to be the one responsible for lavatory cleanup. I will snake a drain, pick up all dog dung in the yard, but you must do me this one kindness.
Living with a small zoo of animals puking has reached a systemic level around here. Every cat owner has been awakened by that seizing sound of a cat emptying their tummy’s contents on your clean duvet or somewhere on the floor next to the bed where old movie stars kept their slippers. Simply make a mental note of the general direction from whence it came so as not to step in it in the morning, roll over, go back to sleep.
Dogs will always take it a step further. I can’t count the number of times I’ve watched one of the pugs disgustingly enjoy eating their breakfast for the second time—or better yet, one of their brothers. Ninety-nine percent of the time after this repulsive act is when they are most likely to give you kisses. Even though they are virtually untrainable at doing anything, I still fantasize about teaching them to use the toilet. I could hold their velvety ears, rub their back, and brush their teeth afterwards.
Given my long anguish with blowing chunks, it wouldn’t surprise me when I ultimately perish the cause of death will be mysteriously choking on vomit. Someone else’s vomit. There’s no way to dust for vomit.
Friendly Ghost, Harlem
Super Duper Love, Joss Stone
Why Not Nothing?, Richard Ashcroft
Gone (feat. CeeLo Green), Esthero and CeeLo
Speak Like a Child, The Style Council
Sunday Morning, No Doubt
What a Shame, The Strypes
No Time, The Guess Who
Soul No. 5, Caroline Rose
Found Out Too Late, 999
Strange Overtones, David Byrne