As a teenager, I used to catch a flu almost every winter break between Christmas and New Years. It usually only lasted a couple of days but one year’s bout of Norwalk was particularly difficult and long for me. I had hugged one of my cousin’s kids goodbye after my parents hosted a Christmas party at our house and later learned that he had been throwing up for days before the 25th.
On boxing day, my other cousin came over and dared me to dare her to eat a full carton of mint chocolate chip ice cream. In hindsight, she was just trying to eat all the ice cream and because I hated mint chocolate chip and didn’t really care if she ate it or not, I agreed. She started eating it while I worked away at a bag of salt and vinegar chips which I still can’t really stomach to this day. The next morning, when I woke up at 3am and started puking out the dinner and chips I had eaten the night before, everyone heard and thought it was Elaine and her stupid mint chocolate chip ice cream.
I spent the next three days loudly puking and shitting in the upstairs bathroom. I camped out in my house’s guest bedroom because it was closer to the washroom. By the third day, I was exhausted and dehydrated, unable to drink any water without it coming up half an hour later. I timed the periods between my throwing up on the DVD player and for a day or two I had to get up consistently every 27 minutes. I thought that my body was cool. I slept soundly between the vomiting sessions. Finally, after four days of this, I couldn’t muster the energy to get up anymore. My puking had turned to intermittent diarrhea which was more manageable and less aggressive. I had been laying in bed for a few minutes at 5 in the morning and my stomach turned.
My heart wanted it to be a fart. I felt so confident that it was a fart and that I could just go back to sleep without thinking of it. The bathroom was ten feet away but it was the principle, I had already gotten up so many times.
Later that morning, after taking a shower and cleaning the sheets, I went downstairs to watch my family eat breakfast. I sat next to my mom who insisted that I have some water and toast after having eaten very little that week. I told her the story of what happened that morning. She looked worried when she asked: “It wasn’t a fart...was it?” No, it wasn’t. She was so disappointed.