Friday, September 9, 2011

Every Mistake Ever Made

 At the beginning of the month, I moved into a new house in a neighborhood across town. The new place has everything I wanted and then some: a stunning view of the Olympics, a bakery down the block that only sells pie, track lighting, a back yard. My bedroom is spacious, with large windows, wood floors, and my own bathroom.

When I signed the lease, my only concern was the bathroom. It's got a new-age flat sink and a beautiful claw foot tub, but no fan. I repeat: Bathroom. No fan. Practically in my room. Also worth noting, the bathroom door is missing a doorknob. Instead there is a little hole cut into the door where the knob should be, and if you're lying on the bed and you turn your head just right you could look through it and see stuff.

Being a healthy, rational adult, I was a bit perplexed by this one persistent hypothetical: What if there's a boy over and one of us has to do something embarrassing in the bathroom? And by something embarrassing I mean anything other than a hand wash or a pee of normal duration and magnitude. Should I have looked at more places? What if I've made a huge mistake?

Girls have been avoiding using the bathroom around boys since the beginning of time. We're quite good at finding ways to go somewhere else, like the bathroom in the lobby or the Port-a-potty at the construction site across the street. It's something you just get good at even though you know it's wrong, like texting and driving or Ultimate Frisbee. "I'm just going to grab something from the kitchen," you say, carelessly pulling on a pair of sweat pants. Then, as soon as you're out of the room, you bolt downstairs or across the lawn and you do your business as fast as humanly possible. A real expert will remember to bring something back from the kitchen, so as to stick with the original story. "Here's a bowl of grapes from the fridge," you say nonchalantly. "Didn't you say you wanted some grapes?"

I had to give myself a pep talk. All this anxiety over a bathroom! Cool it, hot rod. I thought. You're putting the cart before the horse. Here I was worrying about this beautiful new house before I'd even spent one night there. And to tell the truth, I just don't have boys over all that often (or ever, if you're reading this and you are my mom.)

Unfortunately, this was one of those times where my fears were entirely correct. My very first night in my new place, I did have a boy over, and we both contracted food poisoning from undercooked hamburgers. And all the fans and doorknobs and downstairs bathrooms in the world could not have saved us for the retching, reeling horror that is Escherichia coli in all its miserable glory.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Gosh Melina, why does this sort of things happen to you so often?! Actually, I have two theories. One is that I did something very, very bad in a past life. I committed unspeakable crimes against humanity and for that I am now paying dearly. The other theory is that I am going to end up a very successful television writer with lots of money and famous friends, and all this life experience is just material for future skits I'll co-write with Andy Samberg. We'll just have to wait and see.
Here is what makes this particular bit of life experience not as hideous as it sounds: it wasn't just any boy who was staying over. One, he wasn't a romantic interest, and two, it was Andrew. Andrew Wehner, who I knew when I was a skinny fifteen year old and he was a skinny thirteen year old and we were both attending the Academy at Adventure Quest. The last time we spent a night together was eleven years ago, and we spent it freezing to death on a mountain. Yes, that's right, it was Andy, the co-star of my Lost in the Mountains adventure. (In case you haven't read about that yet, go read it now and come back when you're done.)

Welcome back. So as you can see, we've shared some real heavy stuff.  Together we crawled up a mountain on our hands and knees, chewed on orange peels to stay alive, slept frozen and entangled in a single bivvy sac. We co-hallucinated the angel of death- that right there is more epic than any 27 hour road trip to Bonaroo you did with your college buddies.  It's been eleven years since that night, and during that time we completely lost contact. Then he comes out to a Navy town near Seattle for work, the first time I've seen him in a decade, and we end up on the bathroom floor, and I'm puking into the bath tub because he made it to the toilet first.
Andy is the skinny kid on the left. I'm the girl.
I could write about how bizarrely wonderful it was to see Andy again, how quickly we reconnected and how our friendship is so special because of what we survived together as kids. Alternatively, I could tell you in some detail about how hard we vommed after we got sick. Here, I'll put it up for a vote: Friendship? Barfing? Keep your hands up, please. Okay, barfing wins. But one last thing about Andy: he's a good kid, and I love him a lot.

So, the barfing: I met Andy at the ferry terminal downtown, and we spent about an hour bussing back to my hill top neighborhood. I spent the most of that hour gushing about this newly opened restaurant that's a block away from my new house. "It's perfect! It's got a little bar by the window where I can write, and they sell espresso in the morning! I'll go there all the time!" I think I at one point I was actually squealing. Andy was very hungry, it was four in the afternoon and we hadn't had lunch, but I was dragging him to this one restaurant because I was so very excited.

So we went to the place and we both had hamburgers and split an expensive bottle of wine. I felt like an adult. Halfway employed fake adults drink a glass of wine at dinner if they manage to pay rent that month. Adults drink whole bottles of wine over lunch whenever they want. Right? At some point through our meal, (which was full of stories and catching up and gossiping about our classmates- the ones who are still living)  Andy said, "Boy, this sure is a juicy burger!" I too noticed how very pink and rare the meat was, but I didn't think to do anything about it. Real adults don't send back their fancy bacon blue cheese burgers because they're scared. In fact they prefer their beef medium rare. Right? 

Later that night, after visiting with my sister and walking around the neighborhood, Andy and I went to a pub down the street and had a few glasses of beer. Nothing crazy. No hard alcohol, no shots of anything, no late night chicken wings or manic 7-11 stops. By the time we got home, I wasn't drunk, just tired and feeling the beginnings of a cold coming on.  But when I lay down in bed to go to sleep, I started to feel weird.

Really weird. I had a migraine in my throat, which was new, and my whole body hurt. It really hurt. Things got worse as the night progressed. I developed a fever and terrible chills. I was burning hot under the covers but freezing cold on top of them. I assumed Andy was asleep, down on the hard floor in a sleeping bag, so I tried to stay very quiet. Hours ticked by. Finally, unable to cope, I whispered "Andy, you have got to help me with this head ache." And when I heard his feeble response rise up from below, I knew we were both screwed.  "I'm feeling sick to my stomach," he said. "I....I think I'm going to yak."

Next thing I know Andy was in the bathroom, yakking. And yeah, you know, a fan and its sound-neutralizing hum would have gone a long way at this point. But then he staggered out of the bathroom and that's when I realized I had to ralf too, so I hustled outside and start throwing up all over the lawn. It was 6am and the sun was rising all pink and delicate over the Olympics. I stayed down on my hands and knees, just hurling away. 

At this point I was thinking that I must have had too much to drink, which didn't make any sense. I've had a lot more than a few beers before and been fine. Besides which, this felt different. This felt way more painful.  Now, I'm not an expert in throwing up alcohol. I've only ever done it once, in my friend Kyle's minivan on the way to paddle the Skykomish river. It came up as a big watery slosh and was followed by tremendous and immediate relief. I did two enthusiastic laps on the river that day. But when I crawled off the lawn back into bed after that first episode, I didn't feel any better at all.

It got ugly. The fever and chills cranked up and so did the barfing. At one point I realized that if I stayed lying on my bed any longer I would die. So I decided to take a bath. I was so fucking cold that my skin was burning. I sat in the claw foot tub and ran the water up to my chin. But then my stomach twisted again and I started heaving right into the bath. I was too weak at that point to get out. I threw up five more times before I decided to let the water out. (Wow, look how many things I'm telling you! We sure are getting to know each other, aren't we, internet friends.) 

Just like when we got frostbite, I was worse off than Andy. Later in the morning he mentioned leaving the house and getting something to eat. "Maybe some muffins," he said. At the word muffins I jumped out of bed, hopped across the living room and threw up off the porch. Andy gamely took off walking up the hill but I heard him twenty seconds later throwing up in my new neighbor's driveway.

By this point, there was nothing left in my stomach. I threw up bile, water, and nothing. There were tears running down my cheeks, snot coming from my nose, and I kept changing outfits because I'd sweat through everything. Now I know what you're thinking: this sounds just like a middle school dance! But it was even worse than that, I promise you. When Andy returned, he found me sitting in the chair that's outside the house. I live on a street that's too steep for cars, so the city closed it off and turned it into a community garden.  It's a beautiful, leafy, secluded spot, and now a good portion of it has been sprayed with my stomach acid.

Andy sat down next to me. The morning was hazy and colorful. Almost peaceful.  It was very much like the time we sat side by side in the Emergency Room, slouched in wheelchairs, quietly absorbing saline solution into our veins. We were going to live, perhaps, but the aftermath was not going to be pleasant.

I touched his shoulder and somehow found the strength to speak. "You must go, Andy. You must save yourself. You are recovering, and I am not." This was my dramatic and polite way of saying "You'd better get your ass on a metro bus because I'm not driving you downtown."

After Andy left I would have felt very sad if I was still capable of human emotions. I crawled back into bed, curled into the fetal position and rocked myself into sleep. When I woke up, it was a few hours later and the light coming through the blinds had changed. My mouth was so dry that I felt instant panic. I went to the bathroom to drink water from the faucet. When I felt like I could breathe again, I looked up at face in the mirror. And that's when things got real. Like being a kid at Disney World and seeing the Blue Princess coming back in from her break brushing cigarette ashes off her gown. Mom? Dad? What's happening?

My eye balls had exploded. I still had pupils and retinas, but the white parts were bright red with blood. I do not mean that they were blood-shot, I mean that my eyes were actually hemorrhaging blood because of all that award-winning puking.

Now, I'm no stranger to puking. I've had renal failure. I once combined one pound of gummy bears with a Venti Starbucks Chai and then ran a marathon. I threw up all over a boy I was trying to kiss in the Grand Canyon. I had the Norwalk virus at Christmastime. I think a third of the posts on this blog are about me barfing (hyperbole). The point is, I know a thing or two about throwing up and its many unattractive attributes. But I have never, ever experienced anything close to this. I looked like Satan's daughter.
If you want to become very close friends with someone and you don't have much time, I recommend sharing some contaminated food. Or freezing do death in a remote mountain range as a teenager. Turns out, I'm full of ideas for fast-tracking friendship, especially when they involve Andy. What's next for us? Maybe I'll invite him to my next medical exam. Maybe we'll be the only survivors of a plane wreck, or we'll watch the film "Human Centipede" together. Andy, when I'm the head writer for SNL, I guarantee a back stage pass and a meet a greet with your celebrity host of choice. I promise that to you, and to anyone else who I've thrown up on, anyone I've inadvertently humiliated on this blog, or anyone who has lent me a book that I then dropped in the bath tub.

If it turns out I do not end up writing for TV and I'm just paying the price for my former life as a murderous dictator, then what can I say. I'm sorry. Honestly, nobody is more sorry than me.

The terrific humiliation of my life is made more bearable by Ariat Rodeobaby Boots.


Anonymous said...

Oh my God! this is nuts! I've never seen anything like that!! Get better!

Anonymous said...

"It's something you just get good at even though you know it's wrong, like texting and driving or Ultimate Frisbee." Genius. This had me in stitches.

Anonymous said...

"Now I know what you're thinking: this sounds just like a middle school dance!"
Also genius. And yes; exactly what I was thinking.

Nika M. said...

I hope you're feeling better soon!

Baby By The Sea said...

Holy crap. Melina, how awful and all the while hilarious. Seriously well-written, seriously crazy about your eyes..

elissa said...

nooo whyyyy did you mention human centipede?! I had almost completely healed since our last discussion...

that story is intense and awesomely written.

Melina said...

Elissa! That reference was just a little gift for anyone who actually read the whole article. Well done!


Kelle said...

DYING. Oh my Gosh, Melina. This is so well-written and I'm dying. Agree with "It's something you just get good at even though you know it's wrong, like texting and driving or Ultimate Frisbee." Word.

fozz said...

maybe the eyes were just pre-karma for your decision to terrify the wait staff.

zombie. zombie. zombie...

Hilary said...

Thanks for visiting me! I love that you used the expression putting the cart before the horse, because I have been saying that for the past week!

I am sorry, but I couldn't stop laughing during this post... It was great! I hope you both feel better. There is nothing worse than food poisoning... while sharing a bathroom... YUCK. Three days after I moved in with my no husband, we both got it... Thank god we had more than one bathroom.

dig this chick said...

I love the tags:

not winning

A healthy combo for a rich life.

Goodness, this story is insane and a really fun read.

Stormy said...

best description of food poisoning. Ever. A Barf Epic.

Anonymous said...

Wow. This is just gnarly. In the best kind of way: horrifying and yet I couldn't look away.

Angie Kroeker said...

seriously!! Intense and you had me laughing so hard. My four year old is trying to understand why your eyes were red and now we are going to be explaining food poisoning for a week. There is a reason I can only read a few posts at a time. I will have too many things to explain if I do more. BUT. I. WANT. TO. I could read all day. Just let the kids fend for themselves. Alas I have to take this blog in spits and spurts. Sometimes I am sad that I did not find you sooner but at the same time if I had I would not have all this great material to catch up on. Each post is just as full of fun crazy life as the last. Woot!! more reading to come.