Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Streak (Queasymodo)

ELAINE: What's the matter with you?
JERRY: Uh, I don't feel so good.
ELAINE: What's wrong?
JERRY: My stomach. I...I think it was that cookie.
ELAINE: The black and white?
JERRY: Yeah.
ELAINE: Not getting along?
JERRY: I think I got David Duke and Farrarkhan down there.
ELAINE: Well if we can't look to the cookie, where can we look?
JERRY: I feel like I'm going to throw up.
ELAINE: Hey, what about your vomit streak?
JERRY: I know, I haven't thrown up since June 29th, 1980.
[Jerry gets up] 
ELAINE: Where're you going?
JERRY: Fourteen years down the drain.
The Los Angeles Lakers won 33 straight games during the 1971-1972 NBA season. The Boston Celtics won 8 straight NBA championships from 1959 to 1967. From 1952 to 1956, Rocky Marciano won 49 consecutive fights. Cal Ripkin Jr. played 2,632 consecutive games of baseball. And A.C. Green spent 38 years as a virgin while playing in a league that is notorious for its groupies.

I might have them beat.

I definitely have Jerry Seinfeld's eponymously named character on Seinfeld beat. Fourteen years? Bah, that's amateur shit.

I haven't vomited, thrown up, barfed, upchucked, tossed my cookies, puked, hurled, or prayed to the porcelain god for over twenty-three years.

And like Seinfeld (or his character, at least), I remember the exact date that it last happened.

March 4, 1992. My brother's birthday. Mom brought home Harvey's -- makers of making your hamburger a beautiful thing -- for dinner. I eat like a bird these days, so it might be hard to imagine for anyone who didn't know me as an adolescent to imagine, but I ate a double cheeseburger, some BBQ ribs, and cake. Washed it down with cola.

That's a lot of food, but I was quite the portly middle schooler. I was extremely sated, but not overly stuffed.

I went upstairs to my bedroom after dinner and did my homework. Later, sometime during The Arsenio Hall Show, I started feeling nauseated. I tried to sleep but couldn't. Nausea, at least for me, is the most unpleasant feeling I can experience. Let's put it this way: If I could choose between being nauseated all day or skydiving, I'd pick skydiving. And I'm never fucking going skydiving.

Eventually, some time after four o'clock a.m., I barfed. A few minutes later, I barfed again. Then I drank a glass of water from the tap because my throat was burning from stomach acid and I went to sleep.

I missed school that day. I also developed an intense fear of vomiting -- which years later I learned is a thing known as emetophobia -- and a side order of insomnia.

I missed twenty-six days of school that year. Scratch that -- I missed twenty-six days of school that semester.

Over the ensuing months and years, I grew so anxious, worrying too much that I'd start feeling nauseated and have to spend hours on a dizzying carousel of sick.

That eventually went away, although I've had a few relapses. One day when I was in eleventh grade, I started feeling nauseated during morning gym class, and the nausea wouldn't abate. I made it through math class in the afternoon, but had to go home before the end of the school day. Had to get off that ship. Coincidentally, my father came home from work early and puked. The next day, my mother said she was also sick overnight.

But I didn't barf.

In late 2004, my daughter, only a little over a year old, had stomach flu (gastroenteritis, norovirus, whatever it was). Thankfully, at such a young age, she got over it in less than a week. When I got it a week or so later, it was, ironically, much rougher. I spent two weeks sipping Gatorade just to stay alive (ghetto IV) and evacuating things I didn't know my intestines were capable of holding. I think I found the penny I swallowed as a six-year-old and my missing back-up set of car keys.

But I didn't barf.

I know the streak will probably end someday. I had another scare this past Sunday. I woke up with butterflies in my stomach, not a common thing for me. I thought it was probably best to fast for at least the morning, see how things go, but I was talked into eating a six-inch avocado turkey-and-bacon sub from Subway*. I was nauseated the whole day, and half of the next.

But I survived. The streak survived.

It won't last forever. It can't last forever, reasonably.

But I'm going to try to extend this streak for as long as I can.

Twenty-three years, no puking.

I know another champion who had the number 23.

I won't stop not barfing till I retire.

* Don't do that, even if you're feeling like your intestines are coated with iron.

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