Wednesday, December 18, 2002

So, on Monday, there I was: leaning over a bush and puking air.

This began with the noblest of intentions. The Monday Night Alliance of which I am a part decided to support a local family this year at Christmas time, so we had planned to spend last Monday night shopping for Christmas gifts, then wrapping them for delivery on Tuesday. All well and good. Monday night, we split up into teams of two and attacked the malls, braving gum-chewing, glassy-eyed clerks and half-crazed shoppers who just had to push in front of everyone else to grab a dancing Santa doll, because after all, the store only had about five hundred of them left.

At 9:30 p.m., we re-assembled at Barnes & Noble, tallied our gifts, then returned to our collective cars to drive to one participants’ apartment, where we intended to wrap up everything.

As I got into my car, I felt exhausted. Granted, it had been a long day; after a busy day at work, I had grabbed a quick dinner at Arby’s before driving directly to the mall to meet the rest of the Alliance. I must’ve just been tiring out. Maybe I was coming down with something.

As I drove to the apartment, I felt increasingly ill, and soon I could no longer ignore the all-too-familiar warning signs.

See, I have mild acid reflux disease. It effects people differently, and my take is that I effectively can’t belch out air. This causes a buildup of air in my stomach, to the point that I have to actually throw up to get all that air out.

But I won’t just throw up; it takes me a good twenty minutes of nausea to build up to actually throwing up. And then, when I actually do throw up…well, you know how pleasant that is. I only throw up air; it’s like the worst burp ever. But it’s still a rotten feeling.

So I drove up to the apartment feeling distinctly nauseous. I couldn’t be sure that I’d actually throw up, so I decided I’d wait until my companions appeared, then go up to the apartment and politely ask to use the restroom if I needed to.

So, I walked into the lobby and waited.

And continued to wait.

Nobody showed up for a while. I felt more and more nauseous. I tried every calming trick I could think of, and it just kept getting worse.

Once it became clear that we were “Go” for launch, so to speak, I carefully — but quickly — strode over to the bushes near the front of the apartment complex. Of course, I tried to appear nonchalant; I propped one leg up on the concrete ledge surrounding a sad bunch of bushes, and did my best to look like I was peering with interest at all the dead vegetation in the pitch-black night.

And then, sure enough, my stomach heaved, and I spent the next minute or so belching at the verge. I took a few good looks around, and didn’t see anyone nearby, though I’m sure a few folks inside were wondering just how much eggnog I’d downed that night.

I spent a few minutes just standing there, making absolutely sure I’d recovered — this is not the sort of thing to miscalculate — then wnadered back over to the hotel just in time to see my friends approaching from the other direction. They couldn’t have heard me, fortunately, and all was well.

But it makes for a pretty good Christmas story. :-)

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