Chapter 8 – When Ya Gotta Barf, Ya Gotta Barf
At Malaysian customs checkpoints, there’s supposedly a sign that reads:
“Immigration Warning: Malaysia welcomes bona fide tourists but not hippies. You are therefore advised at all times to dress, behave and live decently in hotels as becoming a bona fide tourist. If you are dressed in shabby, dirty or indecent clothes or living in temporary or make-shift shelter you will be deemed to be a hippie. Your visit pass will be cancelled and you will be ordered to leave Malaysia within 24 hours failing which you will be prosecuted under the immigration laws. Furthermore you will not be permitted to enter Malaysia again.”
Straight off, I’d like to make it perfectly clear that I take pride in my personal hygiene. I’m usually a pretty clean guy. I’m also a pretty well-behaved guy and rarely, if ever, have I lived in any sort of temporary or make-shift shelter. So, prior to the trip I had little worry about my chances of being “deemed a hippie” by Malaysian authorities. Also prior to the trip, I had no intention of closing a 4am bar and not going to bed before departing on an 8am bus that was to bring me into the country, but bros will be bros. By the time we approached the border crossing from Singapore into the predominantly Muslim nation that banned Zoolander because they can’t take a joke, I’d grown concerned about getting denied at immigration in my torn-up state.
When the bus came to a stop at the boundary line, I’d been so Milwaukee Wasted from the night before that I had no idea what was going on. As my eyes creaked open, the driver had been motioning that all passengers must vacate the vehicle – baggage was to be taken with as well. I did as I was told.
Following those who’d exited before us, Tim and I entered what my sleep-deprived, booze-soaked brain had remembered as a big creepy colonial-era building full of cavernous hallways. As I recall, the hallways had been lined with many doors on each side. Lacking only some upbeat sixties rock and roll, these passageways seemed like an ideal location to find Scoob and the rest of those “meddling kids” sprinting back and forth from room to room in different sequences while getting hunted down by Professor Wayne or any of the other generic-ass villains disguised as ghouls, goblins, ghosts, mummies and zombies to divert public attention from their shady dealings.
Picked from the group and led into one of those random rooms, Tim and I were asked to provide our passports, a copy of our hotel reservations and proof of onward travel. I’d been totally unprepared for this. Like some overly-equipped material girl digging through her bag of tricks in search of lipstick, I rifled through my tightly-packed travel sack for the requested credentials. About a half-gallon of nerve-wracking sweat later, I found what I needed. By presenting crumpled yet viable proof of accommodation in Kuala Lumpur as well as plans of departure in the form of a wrinkly computer-printed plane ticket to Ho Chi Minh City, Osh and I were able to convince the Malaysian authorities that we were both in fact “bona fide tourists.”
Upon gaining permission to enter the county, I attempted to jam into my bag all the scattered shit I’d just pulled out. We were then ushered outside where the rest of the passengers had stood in queue to get back on the bus and I suddenly got the feeling I’d been forgetting something very important – I just didn’t know what.
Five minutes later, nobody had yet been allowed back on the bus. It was hot. It was humid. I was still drunk as fuck. My mind had been terribly cloudy and I was all but having a full-blown anxiety attack over my missing something-or-other that I’d lost at some unknown point in time. It was an awful feeling.
I can’t say why or how but I remember deciding that the brand new iPod I’d just purchased for the trip had been that which mysteriously vanished. After re-rifling through my bag and tossing onto the curb all the clothes I’d just re-stuffed within its confines once I’d gotten my passport stamped and finding nothing, I turned to my bro.
“Yo, watch all my shit here. I gotta go find my iPod.”
I then stormed back into the building and began retracing my steps – or began retracing those which I thought were my steps. I found out the hard way that I’d been way too fucked up to remember the location of the room from where I’d just come. It seemingly disappeared the way a young Josh Baskin had in the movie Big, only the office I could no longer find didn’t take on the form of a full-grown Tom Hanks prancing around in a 13-year-old’s whitey tighties that had cartoon characters stitched on the ass.
The distressed flipping and flopping of my sandals echoed through the empty halls as I paced back and forth like a mad scientist. I had a nagging feeling that the bus was about to leave without me but, at the same time, I remained strongly determined to retrieve my new toy. After five or so minutes of frantic searching in rooms that I probably wasn’t supposed to be in and coming up empty-handed however, it was time to make the tough call. Figuring my ass would be considerably more chapped than it already had been if I were to become stranded at this fuckin’ haunted mansion and foul up our jam-packed itinerary for the following two weeks, I decided to leave the iPod behind.
Back aboard the bus, we began to roll through the Malaysian jungle. Neither Tim nor I had been feeling very well. We were hungry, thirsty, stinky, sweaty, dehydrated and pissed about the fate of my iPod – well, at least I was pissed about the fate of my iPod.
The scenery, on the other hand, was game-changing. The most redeeming quality about the ride, the sights outside the bus were enough to temporarily distract me from the nauseating effects of my crippling hangover. Straddling both sides of the road and as far as the eye could see had been miles and miles of lush tropical greenery. Every now and then we’d drive past a well-groomed stretch of perfectly aligned, short, stumpy palm trees but, for the most part, it was wild and untamed. It was something that a kid from Midwestern America doesn’t get to see every day.
About twenty minutes after crossing the border, a hostess started walking down the aisle and serving all the passengers a complimentary snack. I sat up straight and scooted my ass to the back of the seat in preparation. As I did, the contents of my pocket became lodged in an awkward position. Before flipping down the tray from the back of the seat in front of me, I inserted my hand to make an adjustment. Right away, without a doubt in my mind, I knew I’d found my “missing iPod.” Embarrassed as hell but overjoyed to “have it back,” I flipped down the tray and was handed a platter of what looked like deep-fried raviolis. Within a span of no more than a minute, I went from snackless, drinkless and tuneless to rockin’ out while chugging a free water and about to devour the greasy snack with which I’d been blessed.
Eager to ingest the warm meal and let it start quelling the turbulence within, I bit down but when I did, I got a mouthful of something that I wasn’t expecting and most definitely didn’t deserve. My taste buds had been struck with something foul, something that resembled a Totino’s pizza roll stuffed with smoldering pubic hair. The shit made me gag and bid the contents of my stomach to make a comeback. As is always my first plan of action when seized by a strong urge to vomit, I began breathing heavily.
“In relaxation” through the nostrils and “out tension” through the mouth. Rinse and repeat.
In this case, my exaggerated intake of oxygen teamed with steady and consistent swallowing had been enough to suppress the barf load that wanted to blast out my mouth like a volcano. This method isn’t always as effective, however, and if it fails when bathrooms are not within reach, the situation could get very ugly, very quickly.
I once found myself in one of those desperate moments back in college. It was during my freshman year at a house party when an upperclassman I knew from high school made me chug a bunch of beers I was pretty sure I couldn’t handle. I downed ‘em like a fuckin’ champ and earned my street credit, but that wasn’t the hard part. The hard part was keepin’ the shit down.
Right after I’d proven myself, with a strong poker face, I silently nodded as if I were hanging on every word of this guy’s bullshit. I wasn’t. I had something else on my mind. I was ready to blow chunks – and when I say “blow chunks” I ain’t talkin’ about givin’ oral sex to a group of guys who share their name with the little fat-ass Truffle-Shufflin’ kid from The Goonies. I’m talkin’ about yakkin’, pukin’, vomitin’, spittin’ up, eruptin’, tossin’ my cookies, regurgitatin’. However you wanna label it, the belly full o’ beer was about to make its exit and I needed to take action. But I needed to do so cautiously as to retain the level of “coolness” I’d just achieved by physically and mentally harming myself with copious servings of alcohol at the older kid’s command.
I have never and will never resolve to being one of those self-sacrificing martyrs that jumps on the grenade and either pukes on myself or in my bag or on any of my own belongings for that matter. So, when came the time I could no longer feign interest in what the upperclassman had to say, I excused myself and set off on my quest. I don’t know who the fuck designed that house, but after checking every door I discovered it didn’t have a bathroom on the first floor. Deciding there hadn’t been enough time to go searching the second floor for the elusive facilities which’d probably been occupied anyway, I began to explore other options.
After sizing up my surroundings, I figured I couldn’t spew outside because a bunch of people had been partying all around the house – same goes for the garbage cans in the kitchen. There were just too many witnesses and I couldn’t allow myself to start off my college career by getting labeled as “the puking pussy at the party.”
So, in order to retain my dignity, I crept into the temporarily vacant living room and glanced around. Even though it had been in direct view of the partyiers standing in the kitchen, I decided that that was gonna hafta be where it went down. Before getting it on, just to make sure nobody was looking at me, I lingered for a moment or two and pretended I was interested in a poster on the wall and then gave myself clearance to let ‘er rip.
I lifted a cushion on the couch in preparation of my dirty deed and, as if I were about to be knighted by the queen, took a knee and bowed my head while liberating myself of the burden. The bubbling combination of a shitty dormitory dinner and Busch Light beer began to seep into the depths of the couch as I replaced the cushion exactly as it’d been. Although I peeked into the living room every now and then to get a good look at the sorry son of a bitch who’d been sitting inches above my steamy load without even knowing it, I continued to drink at my own pace for the rest of the evening and, as a general rule, kept a safe distance from the scene of the crime.
A couple years later I managed to get myself in another tight spot by chugging way more than my personal allotment while out at a bar. I’d gotten caught trying to sneak a still-full pitcher out the door of Angelo’s Pub at closing time and Cary, the crazy convict who manned the door, gave me two options.
“Chug it or leave it! EVERYBODY OUT!”
I chose to chug.
After ingesting the forty-or-so ounces of Miller Lite within the span of twenty seconds, I could tell it wasn’t something my stomach wanted to process. Since there hadn’t been any conveniently placed couches outside Angelo’s I could use to conceal my upchuck, the situation called for more drastic measures. I was forced to conjure a certain kind of boldness that very few men possess. Instead of standing there, puking on the sidewalk and getting made fun of like any old twatburger who can’t hold their own, I rose above the situation by making it someone else’s problem altogether.
Once I’d gathered the attention of my asshole friends, I led the flock across Wells Street and took position in front of Marquette Tanning & Laundry. Starting at the first of many picture windows, I tilted my head back and let a Lard-Ass Logan, Stand By Me, Barf-o-Rama-sized wave of vomit come shooting out all over the previously clean pane of glass. As my buddies cheered me on, I then stepped aside to the next one where I let out a little more and repeated the process until my tank was completely empty. At the end of it, at least five windows had been covered in my sloppy drunk disgustingness.
After several hours of dozing on and off and keeping any subsequent “urge to regurge” at bay, we finally arrived at Hotel Istana in downtown Kuala Lumpur. This place, our drop-off point, had been a magnificent 5-star hotel. The lobby was lined with intricately designed pillars that lifted a carefully-crafted, vaulted ceiling twenty-five feet above meticulously-woven Oriental rugs. The space between the two had been filled with all types of fancily dangling Malaysian ornamentation being blown about by powerful, refreshing currents of air conditioning. It truly was a beautiful establishment but, in all honesty, we didn’t give a shit about any of the decorations or the overall splendor of Hotel Istana. To us, the only pertinent feature of this grandiose structure had been the location of, and our proximity to, the nearest bathroom.
After a little detective work, we found the Promised Land and parted ways to punish the porcelain. There’d only been two stalls in the restroom and, deducing from the sounds and smell emanating from the one adjacent mine, I could tell that my traveling buddy had been stricken with a case of the runs. While expelling a golden-brown stream of dehydrated hangover piss, I choked on the stench of the shit-smelling foulness that had crept into my stall and felt the back of my throat begin to water and swell.
I’ve fought off my fair share of pukes over the years and did a great job of keeping it down on the bus earlier that day, but this was neither the time nor the place for such an undertaking. Giving heed to the wet, nasty-looking floor around the toilet, I positioned myself in a wide-legged vomiting stance, put my hands on the wall for leverage and began to purge my body of last night’s sins.