Sunday, October 01, 2006

Places My Sister Has Thrown Up

1. In a rental car in Orlando, Florida, the year she was 4 and I was 6. I was in the back seat with my mother because I was sick. In the front with my father, my sister began to complain that she too wasn’t feeling well. Although my father started to pull over, he didn't make it before she lost control. Because he had no bag to offer her, my father instinctively put out his hand and she puked, overflowing his hand, the vomit dripping between the bucket seats of the car. After it sat for 2 more days in the sweltering Florida sun, we returned the car to the rental salesman who stuck his head in through the window to ask how we enjoyed our vacation. Recoiling in horror, he watched as my father handed over the proof that only 5 days previous, he had sold us the complete insurance package.

2. Two years later, my sister covered a sand ashtray stand outside a shoe store in a mall, again on an Orlando vacation.

3. Paris, France. En route to the Charles de Galle airport, my nine year-old sister gave us just enough warning of her impending sickness so my mother could empty a plastic bag of food to contain my sister’s mess better than my father had in Florida. Our quandary came upon arrival, when we couldn’t leave the bag with the cab driver, nor could we dispose of it in the airport trashcans, as they were blocked due to a bomb threat. Surreptitiously placing the bag in a corner of the airport, my mother read later that due to heightened security, all unattended bags and packages would be blown up.

4. In an indoor swimming pool of the Kansas City Jewish Community Center the year she was 10. As rehabilitation for a torn hamstring (from ballet class), I had to go swimming four days a week for six weeks. Stacey and I were in the deep end when she complained of a stomach cramp. Unable to make it to the side fast enough, she got sick, and we watched as chunks of her former turkey sandwich and pieces of carrot sticks floated past us.

5. Always one of the shortest students in her class, my 11-year old sister was on the third tier of bleachers singing at an all-school assembly when the heat from the lights and the other students began the make her feel queasy. Before she could stumble out of the spotlight, she covered the two girls in front of her. She spent the next several years dodging the nickname “barf girl.”

6. Every orthodontist’s nightmare—-at 14 getting fitted for braces. The dental hygienist was trying to make an alginate mold of my sister’s lower teeth when Stacey began motioning frantically that she was about to get sick. “Don’t worry,” the hygienist tried to reassure her, “everyone gags during impressions. You just feel like you’re going to get sick, but you won’t really.” She was wrong. She didn’t know my sister.

7. In the corner entrance to Lawrence Memorial Hospital when I was 20, she was 17. On the way back to college after a weekend visit to my parents, I drove off the highway. After I was rushed to the emergency room, my parents were called and they brought along my concerned sister for the 45-minute drive from Kansas City. Upon entering the hospital, she was so nervous about my condition that she only had enough time to face the corner of the entrance before puking.

8. Flying from NY to KC for Passover. Although she was 24, she could still pass for 18 or even 16 and, on this day, she capitalized on her youthful appearance. "I'm really hot," she suddently announced, "I might have to barf."
"Let's get you some water," I suggested, summoning the stewardess. Stacey, however, had other ideas. Wrapping the airline's blanket around her waist, she unbuttoned her jeans and began to shimmy out of them.
"What are you doing?" I hissed.
"I have to--no one will notice." It was after she was pantless, of course, that she ending up throwing up, handing over the filled barf bag to a less-than-pleased stewardess.


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