Cool Hand Puke

“Cameron! Get up!” These are words that I am fairly used to at 1:00 in the morning. Usually, they come from my wife as she is hitting me with closed fists. When our little Zachary decided from birth to not sleep unless he was constantly being held by one of us, we realized that the only way to get any measure of sleep at all would be to bring him into bed with us. We, of course, have heard the stories about how somnambulant parents end up inflicting serious damage to their children placed between them in bed. So, by making the choice to put him there, we cursed ourselves with a pervading sense of paranoia which essentially made sleep impossible. When I let Zach rest his head on my arm, I stayed up at night creating plots to my upcoming sitcom called “Jurisprudence” about an up-and-coming lawyer who acts as defense for women that he keeps falling in love with. On occasion, if Zachary fell into a deep enough sleep, we would try to place him in a small crib next to us or in his padded stroller. This would inevitably lead to Miranda screaming me awake and forcibly removing me from the crushed infant body I was surely lying upon. It would take a few minutes for Miranda to wake up and it would take me a few hours to calm myself down. Good times.

But no, this yelling was coming from my wife, who I discerned after several attempts to focus my sleepy eyes was standing between our room and Zachary’s. Then I heard her say, “He puked! All over the place!” Surely enough, as I roused myself up and into his room, the smell was the first to give it away. It is almost like how you hear the sonic boom after the racecar hits the target velocity. The speed of smell, or more specifically the speed of spew smell, is apparently faster than even the speed of light. Zachary sat there in his bed with a drapery of chunky vomit around him and his bed sheets. We got him up and out of bed and my wife and I performed a process similar to Harvey Keitel cleansing a crime scene. Miranda removed Zach’s clothes as I peeled back the bed sheets corner by corner in order to encompass all of the fluidly discharge. Sadly, it was Mr. Rhino bear, Zach’s stuffed nighttime companion, who received the brunt of the blow. He looked like a splayed tauntaun. As I began to wrap him up in the now heavier sheets, I just about added my own contribution. Just as words could not express the beauty that was Nefertiti, or the taste of pure white truffles, or the elation of hearing Beethoven’s 9th, there are no words to express the atrocity of stench that existed in that room on that day.

Zachary was taken into the bath as I finished the removal of splatter. I took the clothing downstairs and threw it all into the washing machine, praying that somehow the pineapple tidbit sized chunkage would be able to fit into the much smaller drainage holes. We got Zach back into bed after a small drink and fell back into ours, exhausted from the ordeal. Approximately thirty minutes later, a faint cry awoke us followed by a silent, but distinctive retch. We flipped on the lights and Zachary sat there, just as he had earlier, with a smaller but no less putrescent expulsion all around him. We repeated the process, taking out the bath section and replacing it with a good rub down of diaper wipes, and put him back to bed on new sheets.

This process repeated every 15 to 45 minutes for the rest of the evening. As soon as I heard the cry, I desperately sprung into Zach’s room and tried grabbing him and holding him over the dedicated puke bucket. This was met with only minimal success. He received another couple of baths, at least one with a puked-upon Mommy. He ruined three pillows, befouled six sets of sheets, tainted eight sets of pajamas (five of his own and three of his parents), went through several diapers, and laid to rest one snuggly Mr. Rhino Bear. May his confusing trans-species loveability rest in peace.

We all got up, and ready for the day ahead with no more sleep than an insomniac summering in Alaska. I tried to keep my head afloat in front of my computer screen at work. Miranda tried to stay awake while feeding the baby. Zachary tried to see how many times he could run around the coffee table before he puked again. It wasn’t very many. Though he always told us that he felt better and continued to run and play just like any normal boy, inside him was brewing a wellspring of vomit that would renew itself time and time again throughout the day. He stopped a little after noon, just before we were going to call the doctor or possibly a priest.

My brother-in-law claims that puke is the funniest thing that God ever invented. I am leaning more towards the ferret, but I understand how funny a good ralph can be. It is funny if it is something you see in a movie or on TV or another medium which does not incorporate the sense of smell or touch. Handling the expulsion of what seemed like a feast of silkworms, headcheese, and Coco Krispies, was not very funny at all. Neither was cleaning up the German Chocolate cake that my wife projected onto the bathroom wall when she was pregnant with Zachary. Nor was the Arby’s Beef and Cheddar strewn about the carpet between the bed and bathroom toilet during the same time period. And neither were the rapidly filling, thimble-sized bedpans that were placed under my wife’s issuing mouth in the hospital whilst giving birth to Zach. I cannot count how many of my favorite shirts have obvious spittle stains on the shoulder or how many spots on our old carpet we were able to match with a sickly incident. It is quite possible that our beloved Zachary is a puking machine, sent here from the puking future to insure that puking remains a way of life on Earth. What’s more, he is teaching his ways, The Tao of Puke, to his little brother who is becoming more and more adept in the art. But, I still love the little guy and am always concerned when he gets sick like this. In truth, I wear his vomit stains as badges of honor. Not all of us have the privilege and honor of being father to the once and future Prince of Puke.


Kara Thacker said...

So goes the life similarly at our house, but hooray, they grow out of it or at least learn how to make it into the bucket or the toilet. No current pukers in our house but know that you have empathic ears! I will gratefully leave you the title of Puke Prince! I hope I don't ever have enough to rival. :)

Rob & Michelle Eberly Family said...

Robby still stands by his word that puke is funny and even though you wrote about it in a pretty hillarious fashion, I could almost smell the vomit through the computer so therefor I'm siding on the NOT funny half of this anecdote.