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About a year ago, I came down with my second 24 hr. puke attack in less than a year. This surprised me, as Iıd previously neglected The Goddess since the summer of Œ81. Twice a year is unherd of, for me. As nearly as I can tell, this round was caused either by a bug, or by some not quite perfect steak sauce, which I used at lunch. I donıt know. What I do know is that it was such an abjectly horrible experience that, at first, I decided not to share it. Now, though, time has dulled the sting, and, things here being quiet as they are, Iıve changed my mind.
One positive result of this nightmare was that it led to my then new girlfriend telling me a cute story of her own, which will follow mine. Itıs only fair that I embarrass the Hell out of myself, if Iım going to do the same to her. Now, on with the stories!
My trouble started in the middle of the afternoon, with just a vague case of
the blahs. Very easily ignored, especially considering all that which was going on. My mother was visiting at the time. Not having seen me in a while, she was in full Mom overdrive, nurturing the living hell out of me. (Translation: she was FEEDING ME.) Dandy.
The lady knows her way around a kitchen, too. The quality of her cooking along with the nostalgia of being treated to some of the same specialties which I enjoyed as a kid and the resultant desire to demonstrate my genuine gratitude combined to keep me in denial for far too long. By early evening, I was feeling really punk. Well, okay, I was probably gonna puke. I could handle it. Hah! I had no idea.
After dinner, we were kicking back in the living room. I was fairly subdued, resigned to letting matters march on toward their inevitable conclusion. Good olı Ma, for her part, seemed determined to lend a hand.

You didnıt eat very many meatballs.
Aw, come on, Ma! SIX isnıt many?
Not with you. You did better than that when you were ten!
Yeah, well, you know, Ma, we kind of slow down when we start getting older.
Oh!!!!!! Iıll Œgetting olderı you!
Well, Iım kinda on a diet, actually.
Oh, FUSH!!!!!! Diet! You always were too skinny! (I am six feet tall, and weigh one hundred and ninety-five pounds).
And youıre pale, too!
Well, actually......
Maybe you need some sugar. How about some ice cream?
No, thanks.
Why donıt I make cupcakes?
NO!!!!! Well, bite my head off, why donıt you.
Look, Ma, I didnıt mean it like that. Itıs just that.....
Itıs just NOTHING! You LOVE those mocha cup cakes of mine, with the butter cream frosting! Iım going to make a batch, right now. I didnıt have the moxie to argue. I also didnıt feel like telling her what was on the agenda. It would have worried her. So, for the next two hours, the whole house was filled with the wholesome smell of scratch baked cake. Gack. I went in and lay down on my bed, to get away from the smell. After a while, she knocked on my door.
The cupcakes are done!
Great, Ma.
Theyıre nice and hot! Why donıt you come out and have a few right now?
I could bring you one.
NO!!!!!!!! There was a pause.
Are you all right, in there?
Uh huh, I lied.
Well, all right, then. Goodnight.
Gdnt. I heard her shuffle down the hall for a few paces, then stop, and come back to the door.
I wonder, should I make the frosting tonight, or wait Œtil morning?
MORNING, Ma! DEFINITELY wait Œtil MORNING. The mainspring on my internal clock was really winding up. It felt like about two minutes to anti-peristaltic bliss. Two minutes and COUNTING. The last thing I wanted was to have her offer to let me lick the bowl.
Well, I might as well go to bed, too, then.
Great, Ma. There were two or three beats of silence, then,
Shall I make my mocha frosting, or the kind with the cream cheese? Iım sure I said,
mmmkkkKKa kka, but, to her, it must have sounded like Œmochaı, because she let me off the hook. I got a temporary reprieve. I lay there for about an hour, until I actually began to believe I was out of danger. Suddenly, that changed. The timing of this entire disaster was utterly contratempic. Being a passably good son, Iıd given Mom the master bedroom, with the adjoining bath. To use it, Iıd have had to go traipsing right past her on my way to The Goddess. Puking in front of Mom ceices to be cool at an early age. Not only did I did not want her for an audience, but I was worried about exposing her to any bug I might have had. Sheıs eighty-seven years old. Of course, I do have a guest bath, down the hall from the guest bedroom, naturally. No problem, right? Just mosey on in, close the door, and share some real quality time with that faithful old American Standard. Sure, except that I had recently decided to remodel the guest bath. The old fixtures were gone, having been chopped up by the city to make some politically correct roadbed, or whatever the hell they do with those things, and the new sink, along with its companion, low water volume (read Œflush twiceı) Crapper was out in the garage, still in its crate. So, instead of a bathroom, I had a large walk in closet, newly done up in retro-futuristic ceramic tile. (The walls, of course, were freshly painted a pale and suggestive green. Good move.) Well, I still had an option. The back yard. I decided to just go out and get things over with, so that I could come back in and crash. It wouldnıt take more than a couple of minutes, surely, and the houses in the neighborhood are separated by high wooden fences, so Iıd at least have some privacy. Right. It just wasnıt going to be my night. Upon entering the yard, I found that the Chinese family in the next house over was celebrating their new year with a back yard party. I had just enough time to promise myself that Iıd retch quietly, before I broke every stinking noise abatement ordinance in Southern California. Funny thing, though. Nobody came over to complain.
It wonıt take more than a couple of minutes,huh? A couple of minutes is how long it took for the neighbors party to move indoors. I, on the other hand, stayed put for an absurd number of minutes. If I had to guess, Iıd say about twenty. Finally, I shambled back inside, profoundly happy to be finished. I walked to my room and flopped down on the bed. The world did a quick swish pan and an urgent mental voice ordered me straight back into the yard.
Youıre kidding, I thought.
I couldnıt POSSIBLY....... Wrong. The next installment was every bit as long and musical as the first, though not as productive. Finally, exhausted and trembling, I decided to lie down on the living room couch, instead of in my bed, so that Iıd be closer to the yard, just in case, and frankly because I wasnıt at all sure that I could make it back to my room without collapsing, and probably awakening Mom. I really wanted to keep her out of this, for all kinds of reasons. the tv remote happened to be exactly where my hand settled when I lay down. Reflexively, I flipped on the set and got busy being miserable. I wonıt go into detail regarding the next several episodes, other than to say that they were horrendous, and, perversely, did nothing to relieve my nausea. In fact, I felt progressively worse after each one, probably due to the trauma that they inflicted upon my stomach muscles and throat. The cramps were astonishing, more like injury than a disease, and the fever and chills made me wonder if Iıd somehow contracted malaria. This was like no other flu Iıve had. In fact, the only illness which I remember as being worse was a nearly fatal case of the nine day measles, which I contracted during my freshman year in college. Before long, I was really kicking myself for my earlier,
I can handle it attitude. If the idea that I had malaria seems bizarre, believe me, it was one of the saner notions which went through my mind, that night. Some of the others were positively psychedelic. The surprisingly inorganic noises,smells and tastes which my body produced over the next few hours were interpereted by my fevered brain with a creativity which I hadnıt known Iıd posessed. I was certain that Iıd somehow injested an exotic and deadly array of industrial chemicals. Somewhere, just out of sight, I heard the sound of a straight toothed gear box failing catastrophically, inside the overheated electroplating tank, which some son of a bitch had abandoned on my patio. I resolved, with complete seriousness, mind you, that I would never again eat sand. Thank God that I was in San Diego. The temperature that night probably didnıt drop much below forty degrees, which at least saved me from pneumonia. I can imagine how much good it would have done me to be lying unconscious on the ground, at three AM, in the middle of winter, sweating like a pig, in a less temperate climate. I honestly believe that my dry heaves finally stopped because my muscles were literally too exhausted to contract. I got myself back to the couch, and snagged a few hours of sleep. I remember an dream about John Hurt and Sigourney Weaver. Daybreak prodded back me to a sembelance of conciousness. My mouth tasted exactly as youıd imagine it would. I cleared my throat, and found that it was bleeding. My hair was plastered with dried sweat (I hope), and, so help me, the beating of my heart sent stabbing pains through my eardrums. There was a movie on the tube, in which an old woman on crutches was complaining that she couldnıt make it up a hill. When I tried to focus on the screen, the picture swam and blurred so much that I thought,
Well, Jesus, no wonder she canıt make it up the hill ŒSounded perfectly sensible, at the time. Squinting at the TV made me aware of a strange feeling in my left eye. I had a pretty good idea what this meant, so I sat up. It hurt to bend any part of my body, including my fingers, but I made it to the bathroom, and looked into the mirror. Sure enough. Retching had caused me to blow out a huge blood vessel in the eye, rendering it the same watery shades of red, white and blue as an interstate highway sign. I dragged myself off to bed, where I stayed through the next day. I was fine, as long as I donıt try anything crazy, like moving. When Mom came to ask why I wasnıt getting up, I told her some lame story about what was wrong, and insisted that she stay away from me. Sheıd missed all the previous nights racket, because she sleeps with a portable radio playing near her pillow. She also missed whatever I had, fortunately. My adorable girlfriend called in the afternoon. When I told her what was up, she stopped by after work, with some golden seal tea. It looked like infected piss, but it did help my sore throat. I wouldnıt let her come inside, so she went home and we talked on the phone until my voice and energy started giving out, again. Under the circumstances, it wasnıt difficult to broach the subject of puking. Before long she told me HER story. She giggled all the through it, so she must not have been too badly traumatized. Since then, sheıs gleefully repeated the tale several times for our friends, so I really donıt think Iım a cad for posting it. Still, to protect her privacy, (and my sex life) Iıll refer to her here as
Cindy. For background, sheıs twenty-four years old, and wears her dark blond hair in a short little pony tail which bounces like a spring when she walks. She has terrific blue eyes and a smile which could melt osmium. Yeah, I know, Iıve got it really, really bad. So would you have. These days, sheıs a slim little thing, (picture Bridget Fonda) but this story takes place at the end of her senior year in high school, when she was about twenty pounds heavier. Iıve seen her yearbook pictures, and, if anything, the extra weight made her even more teeny-bopper sexy. All of the following facts are as she supplied them, as are the sound effects, which she employs, when telling this story, herself. The narrative structure is mine. Right after her graduation, her parents took her and three of her girlfriends on a camping trip in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona. (Sheıs from Phoenix.) After rounding up the group, they stopped for lunch, at a well known Phoenix smorgasbord, then headed out across the desert toward the mountains. All of the girls were excited about having finished high school, and taking a vacation together. In addition, she thought of how glad she was that she hadnıt suffered from car sickness since she was eleven. Otherwise, the prospect of the long twisting ride would have worried her. Not now, though. Those days were gone. She was eager to leave behind the boring desert highway, and begin the winding trip into the beautiful high country. In fact, the sooner they did get out of the desert, the happier sheıd be. Even with the air conditioning, the car seemed stuffy. Maybe she really shouldnıt have eaten so MUCH of that chili colorado, when they stopped at Sir Georges, but it had tasted so GOOD! And, anyway, it was all right. She NEVER got carsick, anymore. As they drove past the first stands of pine, she closed her eyes and let the flickering sunlight wash over her face. It was fun to feel the rocking
Swish, swish, swish of the car, as it snaked back and forth, back and forth, along the highway. When they came to a little town, her dad asked if the girls wanted to stop at Dairy Queen.
Sure! they declared, in unison.
Maybe thatıs what I need, she decided.
A small 7UP, to cool me off, and help me burp. Somehow, though, after a few minutes in the fresh air, she felt better, and the small 7UP became a big ice cream soda. Then, it was back into the car, and back onto the road. Back into the HOT, STUFFY CAR, and back onto the LONG, TWISTING road. The next stop was for gas, at a mini-mart, and, while everyone stretched their legs, Daddy decided to pick up a twelve pack.
Say, you girls are legal, now! Dad declared.
Want a beer? The Arizona drinking age was eighteen at the time, and the state has no open container law.
Sure, her three friends said. Mom, a nominal Southern Baptist, looked up into the rear view and shot back a disapproving look, but it lacked the wattage to intimidate three brand new high school graduates on their first
legal holiday.
Sure,Cindy echoed. Bravely , she quaffed down the first brewski of her young life, and accepted a second when it was offered. Ah, youthful peer pressure. Ah, the open road, with its hairpins and switchbacks. Ah, the Arizona summer, which no cars air conditioning can truly combat.
Daddy, can we open a window?
Thatıd defeat the purpose of the air conditioning, Honey. Besides, itıs a lot cooler inside.
I know, but there's more AIR outside.
Naw, this is better. Believe me. Swish, swish, swish. Back and forth, back and forth.
How much longer before we get there, Daddy?
Oh, about an hour, I guess. Say, you havenıt done that Œhow much longerı bit since you were eleven! Swish, swish, swish.
I donıt think I like beer. Back and forth, back and forth.
Iım sure glad I donıt get carsick, anymore. But, I KNOW I donıt I like beer, though. It makes me dizzy. Sleepy, too. Maybe Iıll take a nap. Thatıd be good. Somehow, having the sun light flickering on her closed eyelids was now much less pleasurable than it had been at first.
I hate this, she thought. And I hate beer, too. It makes my mouth taste...WEIRD. She leaned back and turned away from the window.
Thatıs better. Maybe I WILL be able to go to sleep, now. Yeah, just soon as I swallow this big mouthful of spit. And this one. BEER! Yuck! Swallow. YUCK! Swallow. YU.........uuuuuuuuuuUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUULLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That sound is unmistakable, and gets an immediate reaction from anyone who hears it. Dad:
Oh, JESUS!!!!!!!!! (Followed by a full application of the cars brakes.) The three other girls in the back seat: (Two of whom would soon have far more to complain about than would the third.)
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Cindy: (Who later swore that she somehow believed that the window WAS open when she lurched toward it, splattering the glass with liquified lunch.)
UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUULLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mom The Baptist backslid long enough to invoke just about every name in both Testaments. The car slammed to a stop, treating Dad and Mom to an unforgettable demonstration of applied physics. The backs of their heads, you see, decelerated right along with the car, while their daughters free floating puke didnıt! Its forward momentum easily carried it over the back of the seat. This saved the girls on her left from being splattered by it, as Cindy leaned across them, in her effort to reach the window, but didnıt protect them from the twin streams which blasted down the lengths of her forearms and splashed all over their bare legs, when she slapped her hands over her mouth in that classic, misguided gesture.
UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUULLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL She managed to redirect the flow toward the floor of the car, as all four doors of its doors blasted open and the rest of the party scattered.) Naturally, stopping the car and having everyone dash out of harms way took precisely as long a it did for Cindys first spasm to spend itself.
llluuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh................ she wheezed, as everybody ran for cover. It must have sounded almost as if she were laughing at their timing. Still, as soon as she could catch her breath, she slid out of the car and bolted for the trees.
I donıt know why Iım doing this, she thought.
I already barfed. Iım FINE, now. Where have I heard that? Moments later, a flood of body warm beer, soft serve ice cream, sarsaparilla, chili colorado, refried beans, macaroni salad, various pungent body fluids, and God knows what else, disabused her of the idea.
IıM NEVER GONNA BE ALL RIGHT! she began to believe. I know how ya feel, Babe. But, never say never. Eventually, she came trudging back to the car, tired, empty, and sticky, to see Dad and the two girls sheıd thrown up on desperately trying to clean themselves up, using paper napkins, a single half quart bottle of Evian water, sand, and a pocket comb. The third girl was standing by herself, on the other side of the road, her arms folded, with her back turned on the whole sorry spectacle. Of course, they were miles from any kind of facilities, when this happened, so there was nothing they could do about cleaning the inside of the car. As soon as everyone could marshall their courage, they all piled back in and resumed their trip. This time, Dad didnıt balk at opening the windows. One thing needs to be remembered about Arizona. The place is hot. Most of it is hot all year around. The mountains are cold in the wintertime, but this wasnıt wintertime. This was June, and late of an afternoon, to boot. The black asphalt road had been baking under the sun for a good twelve hours. Of course, the exhaust system of the car ran right under the passenger compartment, and it was even hotter than the road. Above it was easily a quart of fresh puke, which would remain there until the front seats and carpeting could be removed from the car. In addition, more had found its way down the window glass, and was sloshing around inside the left rear door. These were the conditions under which the party, five of whom were still quite well fed, thank you, resumed their journey.
Interestingly, the girl who hadnıt been splattered was the next to go down. When she moaned,
³Let me out,²
Dad immediately complied. The other two followed, at respectful intervals. Peer pressure, again. Mom and Dad made it to the campground in possession of their cookies, but then, they were responsible, self possessed adults. They were also sitting slightly upwind from the vomit.
At the campground, everyone bathed. By dinner time, the girls had both regained their appetites and their senses of humor, which led to a series of giggly recitations of previous upchucks. As they say, Life pays you back.

Mom and Dad didnıt really enjoy the recital. Of course, they hadnıt been ³fortunate² enough to have their discomfort relieved by a kindly Mother Nature. They were also the ones who had to pull out the front seat of the car and rip up the carpets. The door was harder to deal with. A few days later, Dad got the brainy idea to pour a cupful of Chlorox down into the space between the glass and its frame. This not only resulted in an even more interesting smell, but, reacting with the Phoenix heat, raised hell with the circuitry of the power window, and with the various synthetic materials used in the seals, insulation, et. al. Eventually, the door had to be disassembled and much of its works replaced. Puking can get expensive.