Chapter 51 – Chew Your Food!
My favorite vomiting story of all time hails from my freshman year of college. It was during our first couple weeks up in Milwaukee when I and a group of guys I’d known from Loyola Academy who’d also chosen to further their Jesuit educations at Marquette University went out to a bar called Scooter’s that’d had a one dollar rail special every Monday night. On the evening of which I speak, we all raped that rail deal and got as fucked as fucked can be. And of the bunch, none had felt more fucked from his intake than a dude named Daul who’d gotten mashed out of his gourd after one too many low quality mixed drinks.
Drunken logic led Daul to the shitter where he collapsed to his knees on the piss-soaked tiles of a bathroom stall where he reared his head back and thrust it forward, heaving a mighty stream down into and all over the side of the bowl. Turns out he jerked forward just a little bit too far and ended up knocking his front teeth out on the rim of the can.
Following the purge, Daul stumbled back into the bar with vomit all over his shirt and a blanket of blood covering his chin that made him look like he’d just chowed down on some serious menstruation muff in the men’s room. He staggered through the crowd and out into the street whereupon he hailed down the first car he saw with lights on the roof and climbed in the back.
“Take me to McCormick Hall,” he mumbled to the driver.
“McCormick Hall at Marquette? Ain’t that a freshman dormitory?”
“Yeah it is.”
“And so, you’re a freshman?”
“Yeah I am.”
“And you just came outta Scooters?”
“Alright buddy, I’m gonna need to see some ID.”
This is when Daul realized that he’d flagged down a cop car and was gonna have an underage drinking ticket to pay for as well as false ID charges to deal with on top of a bill for his total dental reconstruction.
In Goris, Armenia, there’s a man who owns a small guesthouse. I can’t remember the name of the man or that of his place but it doesn’t really matter. In fact, it’s actually kind of his fault that I don’t remember.
Ya see, the guy’s got this amazing collection of Communist memorabilia which is why our Russian-speaking tour guide Marko had taken me and the three other guests over there. Although the old birth certificates and the propaganda and all the shit on the walls did a great deal for the place’s atmosphere, the best part was the clothing – the throwback army uniforms, leather pilot caps, goggles, swords and bugles – that we got to put on and play with while enjoying a meal cooked up especially for us by the man’s wife. And not only was the food delicious, but with it we were offered all the homemade Armenian moonshine we could take down. And when we’d all been having so much fun playing dress-up, one more round never seemed like it was gonna be enough.
That night when we got back to the room of our guesthouse, one of the guys – a Frenchman named Alain – clambered from his bed but couldn’t find the bathroom and projectile vomited his meal and the booze that he’d consumed with it all over a ten-foot stretch of white drywall. Of course, he was too drunk to give a shit and fell right back into bed. By the morning, it’d soaked into the wall and, despite his efforts to negate the damage, had become a permanent part of the décor.
As I already have and always will instantly think of Daul and his ridiculous exploits each and every time I hear the word “puke” or any of its counterparts, witnessing Alain’s wall-tagging hadn’t so much reminded me of my old college chum as it had of my father.
As the story goes, I believe my mom had just put a pot roast in the oven when my dad decided he was hungry and needed to eat at that very moment. Instead of just having a snack from the cabinet to hold him over however, he thought it was a good idea to remove the pot roast from the oven which hadn’t even browned yet and cut a big chunk off for himself to eat. After doing so, he stuck the fist-sized piece of meat into his mouth, chomped on it twice and gulped it down his esophagus where it ended up getting lodged.
He wasn’t choking per se, but every breath he took had been accompanied by a loud weezing and he couldn’t get anything else past it. Since he was still hungry and couldn’t eat – and couldn’t even breathe properly, for that matter – pops got all bummed out and told us he was just gonna go to bed.
“You’re gonna go to sleep with that thing lodged in your throat?” we asked. “Are you kidding me? Let’s go to the emergency room. We’ll sit with you. You shouldn’t go to sleep with something blocking your air passageway. Don’t be fuckin’ ridiculous.”
“Yeah I am,” he pouted and went off to bed, leaving us all worried that he was gonna die in his sleep.
Several hours later my dad came up from his bedroom in the basement and told my brother and I that he couldn’t sleep because of the weezing – which came as a surprise to no one – and asked if we’d still be willing to take him to the emergency room. We replied that we would.
When all was said and done, after the doctor had reached into my dad’s gullet with some tools and removed the massive hunk of raw pot roast, the man said, “My diagnosis is that you were choking on a wad of uncooked meat and, uh, to avoid this in the future…I don’t know. What can I say? Uh, chew your food?” he said with a shoulder shrug. “That’s all, just chew your food before you go to swallow it and you’ll be fine.”
Sage advice unfortunately not taken to heart by my old man.
Recently, while on the window washing beat with my dad, he’d been driving the truck from one job to another as I sat in the passenger seat eating one of the two peanut butter and jellies I’d prepared for lunch that day.
“Hey,” my dad said, “can I get my sandwich?”
I handed it to him and watched as he picked one of the halves from the Ziploc baggie and jammed as much of it into his mouth as he could. Without chewing it, he attempted to swallow the clump and immediately began choking.
“Oh my god!” I shouted. “What the fuck! Why wouldn’t you chew your food? How did you make it this far in life?”
He couldn’t respond. He just kept coughing as a drool stream of liquid PB&J leaked from his lower lip.
“What the fuck are you doing?” I yelled as he swerved between lanes. “Put your flashers on! Pull over so you can open the door and throw up!”
I ended up putting the flashers on for him and he pulled into the left turn lane at the intersection of Devon and Central where he was finally able to get a handle on the situation without vomiting. But I must say that I almost vomited when he then used his index finger to dab up all the salivated sandwich goo that’d dripped down onto his shorts and put it back into his mouth.
Not too long after that, my dad had been standing next to the garbage in the kitchen eating a spoonful of peanut butter when my mom and sister came in the back door each with armfuls of groceries.
“Hey Dan,” my mom said, “there’s a few more bags out in the van. You think you could make a trip out while we start putting this shit away?”
My dad just looked at her, started gagging on the mouthful of peanut butter he prematurely went to swallow so he could respond to her request and threw up all over the floor.
“Are you kidding me!?” my mom shouted. “You are literally standing right next to the fucking garbage can and you throw up on the fucking floor?”
My dad shuffled out the room with his tail between his legs and left my mom to clean up his mess.
Several months later, in what reminded me most of the Frenchman’s expurgation I’d seen in Armenia, my dad had been sitting at the kitchen table eating dinner when he began to choke on one thing or another that he hadn’t chewed properly which made him feel like he had to throw up. And instead of running to the bathroom or – even closer – to that same garbage can in the kitchen, my dad just stood up from the table, turned around and began barfing all over the kitchen windows, off of which it splashed down onto the hardwood floor where it began to pool up.
“Oh my god! What are you doing!?” my mom shouted again. “If ya knew ya had to throw up, why wouldn’t ya go to the bathroom!?”
And when he finished, my dad just kinda looked back at her and shrugged like a kid who’s accidentally made a big poo-poo in his Speed Racer tighty-whiteys.
“Oh my god,” she muttered, “it’s fucking everywhere. Your barf is everywhere.”
My dad wordlessly began his shameful retreat to the basement, mindlessly dragging his feet right through his own puddle of barf, resulting in a series of barf footprints being tracked all the way from the kitchen in the back of the house to the basement stairs up near the front. Upon seeing this, my mom couldn’t even swear at him but instead just broke down and started crying, knowing once again she was left to clean up after her infantile husband.
Few pictures from the Commie memorabilia place in Goris, Armenia…