WARNING: This post is not for the weak of stomach.
Last week’s post about regurgitation reminded me of another family secret.
My freshman year of college I was selected to be a part of the Ouachita Players, a drama group that performed skits throughout Arkansas and occasionally just outside its borders. I first told you about my stint on the drama team while revealing another family secret, “The One About the Orange Balls.” I loved being a part of Players. Over time, my fellow team members became like extended family. We laughed together, prayed for each other, and enjoyed each other’s company. But when I first joined the group as a lowly freshman, I was intimidated by the upper classmen on the team. Several were well-known around campus. Cheryl was cute and bubbly and always had a date on Saturday night. Dennis was one of the BMOC, a pretty preacher-boy-gonna-be. These were the cool kids and I got to hang out with them! Of course, I had two other freshmen, Steven and Greg, on the team with me, so I wasn’t the only newbie.
One weekend the Players traveled to Cheryl’s home church in Haynesville, Louisiana to do a Sunday night program. The people at their church were gracious hosts and they prepared a snack supper for us to enjoy before we hit the road back to school. I ate half a ham sandwich but something about it just didn’t taste right. I thought it was the Hellman’s. I’m a Duke’s mayonnaise girl, you see. Suddenly everything on the snack table looked extremely unappetizing and I had a funny feeling that something less than wonderful might be happening to me.
I don’t know what you do when you feel like you might be coming down with something, but if I isolate a thought that’s telling me something like, “I wonder if that tickle in my throat means I’m getting a cold,” I attack it as the wussy wimp that it is and attempt to talk myself out of being sick. “Nah, you just swallowed that chip sideways, that’s all. You’re okay.” So when somewhere in the corners of my brain, I wondered, “Hmm. I hope I’m not going to be sick,” I pushed that thought aside like it was a great big bowl of Miracle Whip.
Unfortunately, my brain forgot to tell my face that I wasn’t sick because it had taken on a sickly, pea green hue. I may have been fooling myself, but I wasn’t doing a great job of convincing anyone else.
“You feel okay?” someone asked.
“Who me? I’m fine!” I responded with fake vim and vigor. After all, I was a Ouachita Player. I could act my way out of feeling sick!
As evidenced by the lack of Oscars on my mantle, my acting couldn’t convince the other Players I was okay so they suggested I sit in the front seat of BMOC Dennis’s car in case I felt carsick.
“I don’t get carsick. I’ve never been carsick.”
Those were the last words I spoke, until later in the journey when I uttered these words that will forever live in infamy:
“I think I’m going to be……”
Yeah. I finished that sentence by selling cars (Ford, Buick, Hyundai), calling Ralph and dinosaurs, etc, ad nauseam (seriously, I added lots of nauseam).
Cute BMOC Dennis demonstrated his superior driving abilities by going from 60 mph to standing his car on its front wheels in less than two seconds, but it was too late. I you-fill-in-the-blank-here all over the dashboard of his car. And all over myself. And maybe a little splashed on cute BMOC Dennis.
Have you ever wished that you were a bird so you could fly far, far away? No? Just me and Jenny? Well, I just wanted to die right there. But I couldn’t even die because I was too busy being sick. As soon as cute BMOC Dennis stopped the car, I flung open the door but could only manage to turn sideways and lean over before the whole yuck started up again. If I can be frank, I was throwing up my toenails, people.
Back in high school when I watched a soap opera or two, I used to wish I could cry like Reva on Guiding Light. She always looked so pretty when she cried. I, on the other hand, look like my face is trying to turn inside out when I cry. But I don’t think even Reva Shayne Lewis Lewis Spaulding Lewis Winslow Cooper Lewis O’Neill could make throwing up look good. I know I certainly can’t. What made it even worse was that my new Player friends were trying to be a blessing. My friend Greg was actually holding back my hair while I… you know. Oh, how I prayed for the rapture to happen at that moment! But it didn’t. Oh, the mortification!
Cheryl’s mom had done her laundry while we were in town so she had some clean clothes in the trunk of the car. The girls held up a blanket (it was blue; I still remember it) for me to change behind. On the side of the road. While the boys on the team waited patiently in the cars. Still no rapture, Lord? Sigh. I’d imagined it would be fun if Cheryl and I were BFFs and we could borrow each other’s clothes and makeup while we giggled and talked about boys, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I’d be trying on her clothes on the side of a rural road somewhere between Emerson and Arkadelphia.
And we weren’t home yet.
Now, I had no aspirations that cute BMOC, preacher-gonna-be Dennis was ever going to ask me on a date. I liked admiring him from afar but I never thought we’d start a family and a church together some day. I just wanted him to think that I was pretty cool for a freshman. Let me give you a little helpful hint. Throwing up in someone’s car? Not cool. So I wished that I could crawl into the glove compartment of his little compact car when he gently and sweetly advised, “Now, if you think you’re going to be sick again, if you’ll just let me know, I’ll pull right over for you.”
I don’t remember the rest of the ride. I vaguely remember a couple of the girls half-carrying me to my dorm room when we arrived back on campus. I remember being so sick that my parents ended up driving up from Louisiana to take me home for the rest of the week.
And then I remember my first Ouachita Players practice after I got better. Oh, did I mention that every. single. person. who rode in the car with me that night got the same bug? I think cute BMOC Dennis caught it first. I’m not sure if it started WHILE he was cleaning my vomit out of the front seat of his car or after….Yeah, I’ll give you a minute to let that mental image die a slow, violent death. Sigh.
At first, everyone was sweet and loving.
“How are you?”
“We were worried about you.”
“You doing okay.”
And then someone, I’m not sure who, said, “So, did anybody give Chuck–I mean, Amy–a copy of the new skit?”
“Hey! I thought we’d all decided on ‘Chunk!’”
The snickers and giggles piled on top of one another and became snort laughs and guffaws.
And that’s how I earned my Ouachita Players nicknames.
Don’t even think about calling me either one of them.
Or I’ll make you cry like Reva without the pretty.