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If I haven't wished you a happy holiday...

...I've been busy cleaning up vomit. 

It started last Monday when Otto came home from daycare.  He'd been puking all day.  The next day was my first day off of a two-week holiday stint.  I planned to have a huge guys day out.  Otto, Q and I were going to go Christmas shopping, surprise Sarah at work and maybe spend the afternoon watching TV with our hands in our pants.  We did bond, mostly by puking on each other.  Q tossed up more than I've ever seen him eat.  His gag mechanism reached deep into his little body and took from his future.  It pulled from his toddler recesses milk from breakfast, hints of red from the sucker he got for using the potty, and I think eggs from the previous Easter.  After Quin set in me a fear of dairy products and bequeathed unto me a night of hosing down upholstery, Sarah came home from work and postponed our holiday trek to her parents. 

Our flight came a day later.  We were packed, the kids were fed, and the dogsitter insisted I needn't again explain Paco's food and medication regimen.  Then Sarah handed me the baby and galloped off to the bathroom.  A little while later she returned with mixed news.  She hadn't puked. 

The trip to her parent's home in Baltimore began with a two-hour Super Shuttle ride to the airport. 

The Super Shuttle is not Super because it's fast.  No, strapping a sleigh to our dog would be faster.  The Super shuttle is Super Slow, Super Packed and Super Bad for anyone feeling a little queasy.  On the icy roads of Denver the amenable driver shared conversation while fishtailing around corners, running over curbs and maintaining the cozy climate of an armpit.  Sarah was pinned between Otto's carseat and a man who smelled like cigarettes and regret.  She swayed with the vehicle and politely and silently retched into a garbage bag.   

When we reached airport security Sarah's color was gone.  Her hues of warmth had faded into a cold, ashen paste.  When the TSA guard—a nice man but part of the biggest Cover Your Ass operation in the history of mankind—made us unload the babies and fold the carriage onto the conveyor belt, she showed no emotion.  She was a faded sketch of herself.  She was mechanical, her outward self an automaton covering for a battle within.   I’d stopped looking at her because my concern meant she had to respond, and responding was a pain in the ass.  Responding is an open mouth away from catastrophe. 

However, Sarah would get a reprieve; one of those dark strokes of misfortune that only a mom could paint as a positive.  Southwest flight 230 en route to Baltimore encountered some mild turbulence.  Already a shaky flier, Sarah desperately rubbed together the edges of the complimentary barf bag.  The grandmotherly woman across the aisle had been glancing at her hard-swallowing, silently-praying neighbor, but Sarah's sudden move for the seat back pocket had her pop open with a wide-eyed stare. I'd been comforting a fussy Otto, but it seemed he'd found the quiet in the eye of the storm.  We watched and waited.  I hoisted Otto and jostled Quin closer.  And then...relief.  Sarah no longer needed to worry about puking.  She had something else to do: become a human levee to the unabated spray of her oldest son.  Apparently Quin had been quietly brewing a repeat of his Tuesday melee with a double shot of the day's meals.  With cupped hands Sarah caught the first load and deposited into my coffee cup.  The second spattered my laptop and spackled every crack and crevice until it flowed between the seats to the horrified passengers behind us.

With the generous help of Southwest's crew and some shaken passengers, we survived the journey.  Q and Otto sprang into the wonderful world of Christmas at Grandma and Grandpa's house and Sarah was finally able to rest.  I, on the other hand, lay awake and wondered if the little tingle in my belly was the excessive sweets or the two glasses of bourbon slush.   Soon, I would find religion.  It would be by a toilet in a quaint suburban house in Randallstown, MD.  My wife sunk into recovery, her parents slumbered in relief of children arriving safely, our boys slipped easily into a Christmas Eve sleep, and I fell to my knees and screamed like Rambo impersonating Satan. 

I'm a loud vomiter.  I don't want to be, and I actually tried to mute my body's response to the flu, but it only made it louder.  It was awful.  It was my soul ripped out by a coat hanger.  It was a fast car, a sharp turn, and an intestine caught on a delineator post.  It was a colonic sneeze ripping a hole in my gut.  It was also only the beginning. 

I would miss most of Christmas.  My night shrieks had the in-laws giving me some space.  Precious rest came between joyous outbursts from the boys and their cousins.  I felt like a like a leper cast out of the village. 

Unfortunately, they probably should have banished me and burned my clothes.  I got better.  But now my sister-in-law is stuck in a hotel room with a sick 8 and 9 year old.  My mother in law is the color of a snowstorm and barely made it through Sunday services.  I have no idea who is next, but our season of joy has become something like a creepy apocalyptic movie and the pie-eating scene in Stand By Me

So I've been meaning to get back to you.   We'll be back in town either Tues or Wed and we must make plans to get together.

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Reader Comments (2)

please forgive me if I refrain. I'd like to keep my lunch.
December 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAV Gary
Dude your latest blog post is hilarious! You need share tools on there: twitter, FB, FF, etc..
Keep writing man, you ARE that good.
January 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTM

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