The Cast: Myself (a completely horrible and smelly mess), My Dad (very surprised).
My father’s eyes burst open wide and beheld the spectacle before him. Only moments ago he had been asleep, now he was awake. Wide awake…
I love this time of year. Harvest time. Halloween ends, Thanksgiving begins, on to Christmas, then New Years… Fall into winter. I love this time of year. Truly.
Also, I am filled with many fond memories of Thanksgiving. Every year the decorations came out and our house was a fall season festival for the senses. Paper turkeys were placed all about the house, as well as paper pilgrims (hand-made by one of my older sisters every year), cornucopias stuffed with small gourds and corn ‘spilling out’ onto the tables (perfectly placed by my mother). Just walking about my home gave me a warm feeling of gratitude all season long. I loved it.
And then there was the dinner… Ohhh… Oh, the Thanksgiving feast…
Every year we would pull out all the stops. Out came grandma’s fine china. Out came our fancy goblets. Out came the fancy placemats. Out came the cloth napkins. Out came the brass candlesticks waiting for their candlesticks to be alight. Out came the heirloom family silver. The place setting were set upon our heirloom dining table. All the stops. It was a gorgeous spectacle.
All the typical foods were there: turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy—in its own fancy gravy boat, green beans smothered in butter or topped with those dehydrated crunchy onions, ham, that weird cylindrical gelatinous cranberry goo (sliced into disks and ready to do what with I’ll never know), yams topped with toasted mini marshmallows, corn (on the cob or buttered in a bowl, or both), stuffing (love stuffing!), rolls or croissants, pumpkin pie, fancy drinks (such as Martinelli’s sparkling apple juice, Welch’s red or white grape juice, or simply just Mussleman’s plain apple juice). What a wonderful spread.
This was the happiness that was my childhood Thanksgiving, and then I turned 9 (or maybe it was 10).
I was about 9 years old (or maybe I was 10) when I had a Thanksgiving I will never forget. The exact age I have forgotten(ish), but the events of that night I have burned into my mind as though they were yesterday.
Like so many Thanksgiving meals before it, my family sat about our table, blessed the food, and then began our feast. Food and drink were passed about and conversation was shared for hours it seemed. However, I noticed from the start that something appeared to be wrong with the apple juice. My first sip tasted a little unpleasant, but I just chalked that up to all the other flavors going on in my mouth. So, I sipped again. This one also tasted a little off. I mentioned this to my family. Nobody heard me. I tried again. Again, nobody heard me. So, I tried again by directing a query directly to my father about whether or not the apple juice had gone bad. Suddenly, I was at the center of attention and everyone was upset that I was trying to cause trouble. However, my father tried the apple juice and said it was fine.
Well, if dad said it was fine, then it was fine, and I began to drink more readily. And I just put the thought of the apple juice being bad, out of my mind (it still tasted a bit tangy, but dad said it was fine, so… ) and packed the food away into my belly. I couldn’t get enough it seemed. Oh, I had become bloated. I had gained about 50 pounds that day. Mmmm… So much food packed into my tiny, little 9 year old (or maybe 10) belly.
Clean-up took place (this was perhaps the only bad part of the day). Whatever food was left behind was packed into containers and placed in the fridge. The dishes were hand washed, dried and put away. All done. Time to enjoy the end of the day by relaxing, and we did. Finally, time for bed. I was so full, falling asleep was easy.
Sometime during the late hours of the night (or maybe the wee early ones of the morning), I was awoken by my little tum-tum. It was unhappy. Very unhappy. It rumbled. It bubbled. It gurgled. It threatened to empty itself all over my bed. It was not good. I carefully sat up in my bed and rested my back and head against my headboard and wall. I was going throw-up, maybe. As I shifted about in my bed to sit up, my tummy settled, a little (very little).
From where I sat in my bedroom I had a perfect line of sight to the one thing that might make this night all better: the toilet bowl. Too bad it was three rooms (what appeared at that time to be three miles) away. I knew that if I could make it to that toilet everything would be alright. I could throw-up in the toilet, flush it down, wash my face (and sanitize my mouth), and all would be right with the world again. But that would mean I would have to leave my bed, cross the family room, step into the little landing at the base of the stairs, pass through the next room (it was just an empty all-purpose room, we called it the weight room but there were never any weights in it, except just one time for about a month), then reach the bathroom and the toilet before I had Thanksgiving dinner a second time—but in reverse.
My mind raced, playing out scenarios. What to do if I wasn’t going to make it? How bad would the punishment be for puking all over the family room? If I needed to, could I run? And if I could run would that just leave a vomit trail from where I started to wherever I would end? Would that be better or worse than just standing and hurling in one place? What would bring the least negative consequences down upon me for bringing up dinner once again? What if Rawlin were to get to the bathroom before I did, would he let me in first? Would I have time to explain the situation before literally showering him in my reasons for needing the toilet more than he? (my brother’s bedroom was right next to the all-purpose room, and as such, closer to the toilet) Could I just wait it out? Could I just sit here all night until someone found me, brought a back-up upchuck bucket and helped me to the bathroom? I was running out of time. I could feel it.
It was all coming down to one thing: Did I actually think that I could hold back the hurling until I made it to the toilet? No. No, I did not. So I sat there. Terrified.
I was terrified of two things: One, the absolute misery of what was going on inside my stomach. It felt like a couple of guys in motorboats were driving around inside a bubbling cauldron, trying to stir up trouble. Splashing and churning up an ocean of food and stomach acid. The second thing that scared me was what was going to happen if I were retch right there in my bed.
I found out.
The pressure was building, I could feel the bile gases wafting over my tongue and into my nostrils—which only added to the nausea. I was about to make a Thanksgiving buffet all over my bed. It was not going to be good. The churning inside me felt like the water in a toilet bowl swishing around as it goes down, but this was coming up. The chuck was about to up. Then it did.
A violent storm of chewed up turkey chunks, corn, bits of bread, and mashed potatoes with a gravy of bile, all came launching from my mouth at a rate and volume like that of water from a fire hose. As I looked down upon the vomit that covered my bedspread and was now pooling about my legs and feet, I could see green beans bobbing in the bile (whole green beans, like I never chewed them). It was all on my bed, none of it spilled onto the floor. Well that’s good (if there was good to be found). It was only puddled around me and between my legs. But now the smell.
Oh no. Here it comes again. Round two. Another gallon of gag spewed forth with a torrent of force worse than the first. The puke splashed and puddled about my legs, and now between my thighs sat a pool of puke about two inches deep that reeked and everything I had at dinner that day was on display before me—in liquid form. Oh man, not again. No, please, not again! Once again I found myself giving thanks. And thankfully, this was the end of it. But I could not stay the rest of the night in my expelled meal. My dream day of food had become a tumultuous fantasmagorical gastronomy nightmare. I would need help, I had never been in a soup of my own puke before, I didn’t know what to do. So up the stairs to my parents room I would need to go.
Carefully, I peeled back my bed covers, keeping my spew-pool of a dinner contained. As I extracted myself from my vile bile excretions I noticed it had soaked through to my pajamas and was dripping a little onto the carpet. But I needed to get upstairs to get a parent.
I carefully crept up the steps, walked into my parent’s bedroom, tapped my father on the shoulder—careful not to accidentally drip on him—and softly said, “Dad, I threw-up all over my bed. A lot.”
My father’s eyes burst open wide and beheld the spectacle before him. Only moments ago he had been asleep, now he was awake. Wide awake.
He walked with me downstairs and instructed me to wait while he cleaned up. He had me sit on the edge of the sofa in the family room while he went to take care of my mess. Dad walked into my room and quickly walked back out, went upstairs and returned with a garbage bag. As he walked back out, with a large bag full of fluid and bedsheets, he walked past and paused, looked at me, shook his head, told me to get showered and get back to bed. Fortunately, I had two beds (a separated bunk bed) and the second was already made and ready to go. After I showered, I went to sleep with the faint odor of my own vomit still lingering in the air.
The next day my dad confirmed that the apple juice must have had a broken seal or something as he reinvestigated the bottle and found something wrong with the juice. Apparently, other members of my family had not slept well that night, but I was the only one who regurgitated my grub. One of the absolute worst nights I have ever had.
Now I shall end my story here as I have gone on about nausea ad nauseam.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone. And enjoy your feast!