Wednesday night, I went to Honky Tonk BBQ in Pilsen with my nice friend. Today, he's leaving this city. He's off to get his PhD in Smart Things at Genius School in California. In addition to being very intelligent, he's got an excellent sense of humor. Once, when we were hanging out in the wintertime, he made a joke about ancient Israel that I didn't understand but laughed at anyway, because I knew I would have found it very funny if I were better read.
Anyway, he got something reasonable, like beer and a chicken salad sandwich, and I got something obscene, like a quart of rib tips slapped white bread and two Old Fashioneds the size of barf buckets as an appetizer. Also corn bread. I say barf bucket because shortly after shoveling half my order into my mouth, I threw up.
An old boyfriend once told me that watching me eat is like witnessing a kill on the Serengeti. He is not incorrect. When I'm really starved, what little manners I have are thrown aside. I faceplant--thunk--into the nearest bowl or plate, and I gorge.
This manner of eating can hurt the stomach of even the most ferocious of lions. Standing over the toilet, hand against the sink, I at first wondered if I just ate too fast. And then I remembered one morning about a month ago, when I met a darling friend's new fella for the first time. We were in a diner on Milwaukee, about to go camping, and he gallantly insisted on buying us breakfast before she and I hit the road. I ordered a chicken caesar salad rollup and seventy five cups of coffee and then promptly went into the bathroom and threw it all right back up. When I came back out, I promised it wasn't him.
Back at the Honky Tonk, I came back out and made my apologizes to my nice friend. It's probably just this weird ulcer thing I think I have but haven't checked out yet, I said. No big. He was concerned. I chewed some gum. The band left and trivia night started, and then I thought about how great it would be to lie down on the sticky naugahyde bench residing underneath my sweating self, roll over on my side, and hurl. This is when my nice friend decided that it was probably time to go.
We nabbed a cab and rode home, with my nice friend gently holding me steady whenever the cab driver made a particularly cruel turn. The cab dropped us at my place. I reassured my nice friend that I would be just fine so he would go catch the bus. Then, I lurched a few steps down my street before pausing to barf on a van just outside of my apartment door. I regret this. I love this van very much. It sits below my living room window and has a lovely southwestern desert mural painted on both sides. I would probably marry the person who drives it, if they were to only ask.
As it turns out, they haven't. However, I'm not suffering for a lack of suitors. For example: as I uncontrollably vomited onto the car and parking lot and sidewalk and whatever else caught my fancy, I think to myself, god, am I so glad that no one is out right now to see this, because I actually can't talk. I wouldn't be able to tell them that I'm not super trashed. Maybe--holy shit--maybe this is the flu?!
Then I hear a sharp squeal, as bike tires came to an abrupt halt behind my heaving back.
¿Está bien? a worried voice asks. I turn my head to see the speaker. A rope of drool swings along a half second later. Yeah, I say. I'm just sick. Ohhhhhhhh, my friend says. He is short and wears a ball cap and he looks very concerned as he wheels his bike over to me. Bad Chinese food? Briefly, I wonder what exactly it is about the recent contents of my stomach that resemble fried rice, but then I look down and see that, in my hand, I'm still clutching the rest of the ribs. They're in a carton normally reserved for lots of orange chicken. No, I tell him. Bad ribs. Ahhhhhhhh, he says, and from his pocket, pulls out a napkin for me to use on my drippy mouth. Gratefully, I accept it.
We continue on this vein for a little bit longer. I try to walk to my house but instead turn back around and barf some more. It's ok, says my new friend sympathetically. Get it all out. I can't believe I'm puking on this van, I say. I live right here! It happens to me too, says my friend. I live down the street from here, but usually just puke in the alley. He points to the alley between my place and Bubbleland.
I wonder what he means by "usually."
I do not ask. Instead, I choose to dig for my keys while unsteadily rise and walk to my door. He walks alongside me. My name is Jesús, he says. I'm Katie, I tell him. Nice to meet you, Katie! he says, with great enthusiasm. I unlock my door. Are you going to be ok? he asks. Do you need my number? No, I tell him, meaning number. Are you sure? he asks, meaning my number. Yep! I say. Thank you so much for your help! See you around. You should probably drink some tequila, he calls up the stairwell as the door slowly eases towards shut.
I do love tequila, I shout over my shoulder, and almost fall down the stairs. Do you want some right now? he cries with delight. Maybe some other time! I holler, with my last strength, and make my way to the third floor, shove myself into my apartment, and take off all my clothes.
My roommate greets me and asks how my day has been. I puked a lot, I say, and flop on the bed, sweaty side up. Oh no! she says. We talk about her friend who is coming over--she's not sure if it's a friend or if it's a date, and was hoping that I'd be around to help balance it out. Regretfully, I am unwell, and want nothing of dates.
There is a knock on the door. It is not Jesús. It is the date-friend. My roommate lets him in, and seats him at the kitchen table. My room is off the kitchen, and I have forgotten to shut my door, or for that matter close my legs. I do both of these things and then throw on a large old t shirt. These activities prove to be too much, and the need to barf rises in me like some ancient and terrible creature. I fling open the door and spill out of my room. Hey, I'm Kate, I say to our guest. Welcome to our place. I'm sorry if you saw my tits. I'm going to go throw up now.
And I do, but before I do, I am careful to make a quick stop by the fridge to set my carton of ribs onto the second shelf. Tomorrow, a kind gentleman will come over to take care of me. On his way out the door, I'll mention that I still have the meat. Incredulous, he'll grab the offending objects and take them down to the dumpster in the alley, the same one Jesús is so fond of. Tonight, I'll hang on to them--not because I plan to eat them, but because I'm not sure. I always hate when something goes to waste.