"I never throw up," I bragged to B on one of our first dates. This was sometime in 2003. At the time I was working on a no-throw-up record of almost 30 years.
B was pretty; she was smart; she had a great personality. I liked her. So I thought this was a good selling point for myself. I mean, who likes someone who throws up a lot? But I guess what I was doing, with my lame attempt at humor, was making a kind of promise. I would stay healthy for her. She was not signing on to be my nursemaid. No throwing up.
The last time I'd thrown up was in 1974 or 1975 when I'd had a terrible bout of the flu. And, well, stuff happens. Soon after, I fainted and cracked my chin on the bathroom sink as I went down. My wife (my first wife) panicked when she saw me crumpled on the floor with blood running down my face. She called 911. The first thing I knew, I woke up with my wife hovering over me and two male faces murmuring some mildly reassuring words.
That's how bad it has to be when I throw up.
But last weekend . . .
We had just gotten home from our trip down south. Our grandson had had a bout of stomach flu. So did someone else in the family. But I kept my distance, washed my hands. And anyway, that was four or five days earlier.
The morning we got home we went out to breakfast at a diner. We had never been there before, but it was crowded. Must be good.
I ordered eggs, pancakes and a side of fruit.
The portions were huge. But the fruit looked good. I dug in. As usual, B forked a few pieces for herself. But I was the one who gobbled up most of it.
Later that afternoon I just felt tired. I don't know why. I'd slept well. I hadn't really done anything vigorous or taxing. But we'd been traveling. That creates more stress than you think. Maybe it made sense that I was tired.
At dinner the food, to me, looked intimidating. I ate a bite or two of chicken. It was too rich, too spicy. The asparagus seemed stringy and hard to chew. I left most of the meal on my plate.
I did the dishes, as usual, then went upstairs to my desk. I tootled around on the computer for a bit, then B came in. We had an engagement the next day. She wanted to discuss what time we should leave and other details of the outing. I looked at her and said, "I hate to say this, but I don't feel so good."
She looked disappointed, but understanding. "Well, let's see how you feel in the morning."
It was about five minutes later when for some reason the thought crept into into my mind: I'd better get to the bathroom.
I'll spare you the details. But it's a good thing I did. Because my now more-than-40-year throw-up record was over. In spades.
Luckily, B decided to sleep at the other end of the house. I got more exercise than sleep that night. But finally around 5 a.m. I settled down and slept till about 10. I heard the phone ring a couple of times but didn't pay attention.
I got up for an hour or two and found that B was still there. She had canceled our engagement. Then I went back to sleep. I got up again around 2 p.m. B asked me if I wanted anything to eat. I said no. She asked about dinner later on. Some toast? Chicken soup? No. No. Then I saw a potato on the counter. "How about mashed potatoes?" I asked.
I took another nap from about 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Got up. Ate a few mashed potatoes. I was worrying that I would lie awake all night since I had slept most of the day. But no. I fell asleep listening to a podcast and stayed asleep until 8 a.m. the next morning.
I got up. I don't know if it had been the flu or the food, but now I felt fine. Well, mostly fine. I felt like I had been through a fight, and was now recovering, like the guy in the movies who is sitting there half-dazed with a bandaged face and an arm in a sling.
A day later I was back on my feet. I went to my class, played table tennis that night. I had met the enemy and had won. And the silver lining -- I'd lost about five pounds. But it took two days out of my life. And I had broken the promise I'd made to B, all those years ago.