Oh No, I Threw Up In Front Of You!


Despite what most writers and artists might tell you, drinking alcohol is a social activity. It is not solely the purview of the sullen, solitary mind. Like most controlled substances, it is to be shared with good company. It’s also one of the most effective methods for making a shy, reserved, awkward individual more charming. For hundreds of years, humans have been using booze to mask a variety of anxieties and foibles. For instance, when I am drunk enough, I completely forget that I have thinning hair, a mildly protruding stomach, bags under my eyes, a mistrust of others, very little to say about the war in Afghanistan and a tendency to gesticulate wildly when nervous.

There is, of course, a point when you can’t get more any more wonderful and you begin to regress into an infantile state that will threaten all the gains you’ve made with the sexual partner of your choosing. The mile marker for crossing the ‘threshold of pain’ varies for everyone. For some, it’s an unbearable propensity to touch others. Hair, hands, shoulders, breasts and faces are all fair game for the drunk person. Some lose their ability to censor themselves effectively. “Hello, how are you?” becomes “Immma gonnnaaa kissss you, k?” For me, I know that fun time is over when I throw up. Vomiting is one of the most heinous act you can commit in front of or near someone else. It’s not as egregious as defecation or urination, but more immediate than a mere belch.

I recently made the mistake of chucking one out in front of a group of people. Shame does not kick in right away. The convenient thing about drinking a lot is that ‘shame’ grows arms and legs and climbs out of you from any number of orifices, walks away and gets a bus direct to Santa Fe, New Mexico. I was drunk enough that I couldn’t even spell ‘shame’ with a dictionary in front of my face. I remember vaguely the moment I decided to hurl. I was outside, doing my best to converse with the assembled masses. I believe the conversation had something to do with the trajectory of Usher’s career in music.

It could have been a sensed memory of the summer when “Yeah!” (featuring Lil Jon & Ludacris) was all over the radio, or it could have just been my own need to flip the topic of conversation back to me where it belonged, but I chose to throw up on the ground. The looks one receives after having expelled bodily fluids is somewhere between shock and utter contempt. That horror isn’t even confined to throwing up in front of someone. If you were to throw up privately in the bathroom of a party or bar, then proceed to tell everyone about it, you would welcome all manner of disturbed glances and pleas for you to exit the event immediately with a one-way ticket to Loserville.

Vomiting is a clear sign that you have gone too far, that you have taken ‘fun’ to a level it was never intended to go. You’ve transcended mere joviality and ventured into a state of mind where there are no limits. You are capable of anything; mostly vomiting and screaming, but also plenty of other things. You represent what is wrong with the people around you. In some ways, it’s like expelling the sin, depravity and reckless abandon that the rest of the party has been experiencing through the act of imbibing alcohol.

No one wants to be reminded that what they are doing is physically or emotionally harmful. You have no boundaries. Horrible things come out of your body. You are spending valuable seconds of your life doing something damaging. Much like throwing up, drinking is just a physical action intended to alleviate suffering. You throw up to expel the poison swirling around inside you. You put alcohol in your body to expel the pain of living. You drink to forget that ex who broke your heart, the job you didn’t get, the negative balance in your bank account, the homeless woman in front of your apartment who just needs to eat, the sheer mediocrity of modern cinema, the bigots who scream at you from your television, the acid rain and the fathers who just don’t care.

No warning label or disapproving look is going to keep someone from pushing boundaries. It’s an inevitable part of our nature. Just try to remember that there are boundaries as you push them, Sisyphus. I want to share all the things that bother me with as many people as I can. I want to tell strangers to stop eating Taco Bell so much and tuck their shirts in. I’d very much appreciate the opportunity to request everyone adhere to the ‘walking on the left, standing on the right’ rule for escalators. Unfortunately, there are some things I can’t say, just like there are some gross things I can’t do when I’m drunk. In order to make yourself useful to society, you need to know when to be honest, but also when to keep your frustration…and your breakfast to yourself.

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image – Debbie Goard