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Monday, May 2, 2011

Fainting, Puking and Coffee…It’s Not Just for Dating Anymore

As an English major back in college, I was required to take a course on the writings of Shakespeare.  The teacher was an eccentric sort, a bit annoying, but nonetheless expressed a viable passion for the works of good ole William.  One of the class requirements was to see a performance of The Twelfth Night at a hole in the wall, delapdated theatre located in the bowels of Manhattan, otherwise knows as…The Bowery. 
Now, I know that the Bowery has been greatly rehabilitated over the years, boasting a Whole Foods and multi million-dollar condos, however, back in the 80’s, it was gross, dirty, and full of “eccentric” and unsavory individuals drinking out of brown paper bags.  Thus, my sordid tale begins.
It wasn’t a date per se, as we were friends and classmates.   It seemed, however, that I had been coming down with the flu as it hit me out of nowhere during the middle of the first act. I stole away to the bathroom and remained there for the remainder of the play.   I was dizzy, faint, hot, feverish, and very nauseous, praying that relief would engulf me, but it didn’t, at least not in the bathroom. 
I found my friend, told him I wasn’t feeling well and would have to skip the after play repast in Chinatown.  “Okay, let’s get to the car, and I will get you home.”  He seemed sympathetic.  All of a sudden, a huge wave inside me needed to get out.  I found the nearest garbage pail and proceeded to let my inner inhibitions free.  My friend stood by and asked if I was okay.  He was such a good sport and so truly patient as I wretched and released in a most un-Shakespeare like manner.   Here’s the ironic thing though.  I was a twenty something, nicely dressed, seemingly normal individual barfing into a garbage can, and yet, no one stopped, cared, or seemed to think this wasn’t normal.  Apparently, this was a regular occurrence down on The Bowery.  People threw up in garbage cans all the time and I guess I was just part of the general milieu.  Moreover, I didn’t care.  I was sick and that garbage can was my friend, a receptacle in waiting.  It was my metal beacon in the night.
It’s like childbirth.  You just don’t care at a certain point who’s in the labor room.  I had 18 hours of non-medicated childbirth, and when the emergency team swooped in to get the baby out (she was stuck) I didn’t even care.  It could have been the janitor delivering my baby, I just didn’t care.  Oh, Oprah wants to interview me, now?  “Sure, Oprah, don’t mind my screaming.”   Shape magazine wants a picture of me for their cover, entitled, Don’t Let This Happen to You?  Yeah, you can let them in too.  I DON’T CARE, GET IT OUT! GET IT OUT! GET IT OUT!  
Truly, throwing up on a date wasn’t my best moment, which is why it’s funny that it happened again…on a date.  Seems like I can’t hold my dairy too well and as he pulled up to my house, I couldn’t even wait, I opened the door and let myself go in the street sparing the seat of the car.  In retrospect, I wish I had aimed at the seat, in the trunk, the steering wheel and the glove compartment as that boyfriend cheated on me numerous times during our relationship.
Then there was the time, I fainted on an AMTRAK train.  Now, I was out of college and on my own.  On a trip to NY to visit my parents, we wound up having an argument over my current beau.  I holed myself up in my bedroom, and didn’t eat for 24 hours because I didn’t want to engage in any more conversation with my parents downstairs.  I left for the train station super early without saying goodbye, or as much as a banana to eat and proceeded to head home.  Nothing was open that time of the morning, so I still had not eaten. Lack of food combined with hypoglycemia (which I didn’t know I had at the time) put me in the embarrassing predicament of passing out on the woman next to me (who by the way was on her way home from her honeymoon with her new husband).  
The train made an emergency stop in Metro Park, NJ.  If you look closely, there is a sign that hangs at the station that reads…Metro Park, Home of the Emergency Stop.  They wheeled me off in a gurney, and the EMT’s took me to the hospital for tests and I.V’s.   This time, people gaped, pressed up against the window of the train but not because they cared, rather, annoyed that they were going to be delayed…I knew how they felt. 
After that occurrence, I broke up with the guy my parents didn’t like (don’t you hate when they’re right)?   But my little fainting spell happened again a few weeks later on –you guessed it, another date.   He said that he never had that affect on a girl before, which only made him cuter.
Ah….so now here I am, hypoglycemia under control, and no longer on the dating circuit.  What could befall me now? 
This past weekend, I made an unusually large pot of coffee.  My husband usually helps me finish it, though we had some things going on and left the remainder in the pot.  When we came home I decided to have some more, and then ultimately finished it. I wasn’t really paying attention to how much I had actually consumed (6 cups).  About an hour later, I decided to take advantage of the beautiful springlike weather and go for a power walk.  About midway, I was doubled over.  Of course, I had forgotten my phone, and I was about 2 miles from home. 
I managed to walk a ¼ mile to the Emergency room at the local hospital.  I was about 15 feet from the ER, and about to lose it on a lovely grassy knoll, and I just didn’t care.  I felt horrible.  I actually made it to the ER in time and guess what? They didn’t seem to care either, it was like the Bowery all over again.  I walked in pale, shaking, and hunched over and asked for the ladies room and he detachedly pointed to it.  Do I need to make the irony clear here, that I was in an ER???  No, “Mam are you okay?” Of course, I would have stood on ceremony if he had called me “mam” because I absolutely hate being called, “mam.”
When I emerged (probably 5 lbs lighter) I called my husband to pick me up.  My knight in shining armor arrived in our misty blue Sienna minivan, (which is far less bumpy than a white horse), and pajama pants. No questions or lectures, just sympathy and speed, and my parents like him..bonus.
The next day, I swore off coffee as my stomach acids tried to neutralize themselves, but then I developed a headache of migraine proportion.  I thought I had a virus, but then I reared in horror…OMG I was totally addicted to caffeine.  My husband was right (don’t you just hate that)?  “I can kick it.”  I said, a little shakily.  Truth is, I remember when he went cold turkey on coffee and it wasn’t pretty.  It was seriously like watching drug detox, complete with shakes, headaches and severe moodiness.   I liked him much better on caffeine.
This morning, I desperately tried again to avoid it.  I made wimpy vanilla chamomile tea which by the way tastes nothing like vanilla.  I asked my husband what to do.  He sarcastically suggested I find a new addiction.  Maybe I will take up smoking.  I needed coffee.   I scooped it out, breathing in its heady aroma, and when I finally succumbed to the rich, dark elixir, presto, my headache instantly disappeared. 
I always find it funny when my girlfriend tells me I am one of the most grounded people she knows.  When I write these stories from my past, or even my present, it’s a reminder that I am a work in progress.  It’s all part of the Lick the Bowl experience where you begin to understand that each occurrence makes you a little bit wiser and brings you to a point of understanding and appreciation for the little things in life.   This latest scenario not only makes me appreciate the narcotic effects of coffee, but the wisdom that emerges from stupidity and a husband who stands by and doesn’t judge.

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