First Day of School!
IS there anything worse than vomiting in school?
Yes! Vomiting on the first day of school, just two short minutes before the end of the day – after you almost made it without vomiting!
It happened to yours truly, waaay back in fourth grade, and now you are there!
Like you, I’ve never done well in extreme heat. Add intense humidity to the mix and it’s only a matter of time before that telltale headache starts developing, I turn white and clammy, and I start looking for a toilet, wastepaper basket, or girl with long, elaborately-braided hair.
Ah, I remember it like it was yesterday: The entire class was sitting with our new teacher Mrs. Anderson on the carpeted floor of her classroom. In the waning minutes of the school day she was reviewing with us, her new charges, what we’d be covering that year.
I’d been feeling increasingly ill since about one p.m. But you know me – I’m not exactly the sort to raise my hand and speak in class if I don’t have to. I was going to run out the clock. I could do this! Steady, stomach – just a few moments left!
Two minutes to three p.m. and I couldn’t hold it back anymore. With a sudden and mighty blurrrrp the contents of my stomach gushed forth from my mouth, onto my lap and the carpet. I still remember what they served in the cafeteria for lunch that day – hot dogs, pineapple chunks and chocolate milk.
I remember because they made a striking visual contrast, half-digested as they were, on the deep orange carpet and my light blue corduroys.
The tight little knot of students exploded back. You remember the old kindergarten science experiment where you sprinkle black pepper on a bowl of water and then add a drop of dishwashing soap and the pepper immediate pushes back to the farthest reaches of the bowl?
Well, think of my classmates as the pepper and me and my vomit as the soap, Tropical Chocolate Frankfurter Gastric Juice scented.
Since I’d been sitting cross-legged on the floor, when I stood up, my legs were striped: Puke, corduroy, puke, corduroy.
As Mrs. Anderson walked me down the hall towards the nurse’s office she asked me with equal amounts of compassion and frustration, “Why didn’t you say something?!”
“I thought I could make it!” I whined.
The custodians did a good job of cleaning up the mess. There wasn’t a trace on the carpet the next morning. That didn’t stop all my fellow students from walking over there and inspecting it, though – whispering as they looked at me. Sure, there were a few half-hearted offerings of “glad you feel better” but I was largely a pariah for the next few days.
Of course this incident followed me throughout the rest of that school year, to the end of elementary school, through junior high, and onto high school. “I remember you!” I’d hear at least once a year from someone who’d been in my class that fateful year but I hadn’t seen in some time. “You threw up on the first day of school!” After I graduated I thought – I hoped – that would be the end of it.
But it’s my own fault: I made the mistake of telling Devon, hopefully imparting the lesson I’d missed – to never be afraid to speak up. And of course, little Devon missed the point completely, loved the story and thinks it’s the funniest thing ever – especially the part about the striped puke-y corduroy legs.
Today he starts fourth grade, he does. Little sickly Devon with his many allergies and his sensitive, sensitive stomach.
Fourth grade already! They grow up so fast, don’t they?
…Anyway, look what I’ve secretly replaced the Fruit Roll-Up in his lunch with.
Yeah, we’ll see who’s laughing this afternoon, little smart-mouthed so-and-so.