Sunday, May 10, 2015


"Do you have the hiccups?"

"No. I think I might throw up."

We were on the ferry from Hong Kong to Macau. The sea was calm, but my wife's stomach wasn't, and we hadn't even departed. The catamaran was bobbing up and down with the tide. The sky was overcast. I looked around the seats for barf bags and saw that there weren't any. And the lines to the lavatories were long.

"I didn't know you get seasick," I said and held Patricia's hand. We had been married three years, and I was continually learning new and interesting -- if perhaps insignificant -- facts about her. I still am, twenty-three years later.

"Didn't you say you've taken this boat before?" I asked.

"I did, about ten years ago."

"And were you sick then?"

"I don't remember."

A young man was walking down the aisle with a tray of assorted snacks and beverages. I considered buying a beer and a bag of potato chips but thought better of it. My stomach wasn't feeling in top shape itself.

"Sorry, Patty, but that seems like something you'd remember," I said. "I mean, it's not every day that you ride a boat, especially one in a foreign country. I can't recall what I ate for breakfast two days ago, but I'm pretty sure I'd remember if I vomited on a boat."

"Shut the fuck up, Jonathan. You're making it worse."

I shut the fuck up.


Macau was nice enough. Patty's nausea ebbed and flowed during the hour-long ride, but she was able to contain the contents of her stomach. We walked through the cobblestone streets and saw a facsimile of Macau's past. Colonial mansions and McDonald's.

We don't gamble, but during our tour we found ourselves at a large casino, the name of which escapes me. We agreed to go in and have a drink.

Cigarette smoke hovered like a cloud in that monstrous gaming room, where middle-aged men and a peppering of middle-aged women sat at tables covered in green felt. I would be lying if I didn't say that it was a pathetic, depressing tableau.

We took two seats at the bar, which was about as massive as the whale that swallowed Jonah. I ordered a beer. Patty ordered a beer. The bartender, a pretty woman with pink mascara, gave us each a bowl of salted peanuts. We talked.

My drink was almost done, and our ferry back to Hong Kong was set to leave in forty minutes. "Ready to go?" I asked Patty.

"I guess so," she said.

Immediately upon exiting the casino, we witnessed the aftermath of a traffic accident. A bus had run over a man on a scooter. People were yelling. People were screaming. There was blood. There was a lot of blood.

I wanted to stick around and gawk, but we had a boat to catch.


"Jesus, I'm going to be sick."

"You'll be fine. Patty, look out the window. See how the boat is going up and down? Bob your head up and down with the movement of the water."

"That actually works! I look like a crazy person, but it works! I feel so much better when I do that! How did you know that?"

"Kids get carsick, but the driver never does. If you have a point to focus on, everything else disappears."

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