Drive-By Day



Caution: although humorous, this story isn’t for those of weak stomach…

Dawn and I ate a majestic meal at Jason’s Deli. When we went inside, I almost suffered a technology stroke because of the complexity of the self-serve kiosk. It’s my new favorite thing now, of course. I had a bowl of tomato basil soup which made my mouth sing the national anthem of Yugoslavia, followed by an eclectic selection of culinary oddness. There was a salad involved, but only in the vaguest sense. The cucumber dill dressing was so delicious that I found myself down on one knee proposing matrimony with the salad bar. I couldn’t find a straw; otherwise, I had intended to plunge one deep within the bin of cucumber dill dressing and drain it like a starved vampire might.

We went to Shoe Carnival. It’s a carnival, I’ll agree. The sales associates all graduated from the “Who, me? School of Helpfulness,” most of them with honors. Dawn found the perfect pair of shoes by accident. I kept myself busy by reorganizing the shoes under a system invented by a drunken Klingon.

We followed up the quest for the perfect shoe by going to Lowes, where ideas of home improvement slowly strangle themselves amidst the melee of price versus ability. What started as a simple desire to buy a projection display devolved into a debacle involving QR codes, Venn diagrams of overlapping lights, and 5 quarts of outright guesswork. By coincidence, we decided which display to purchase at the exact moment I said the magic words “I’m done,” as a wave of consumer apathy overload hit me in the head.

We finished our trifecta of activities by going to the grocery store, after a lengthy negotiation of back-and-forth ‘what-are-we-going-to-buy’ between us, some of it so detailed that we almost had to call a UN secretary in to take notes and mediate the discussion. All married people tasked with joint grocery expedition duties will understand the implications of this statement.

As we walked toward the front of the store, Dawn said, “Look at that girl throwing up!” It confused me because Dawn used her higher voice of wonder and amazement to tell me this. I was expecting to see a woman dressed as a Disney princess standing atop a glittering mechanical carousel, puking her guts out. Instead, just as I looked to my left, a blond-haired younger woman ejected her head out of the rear passenger window of an older green vehicle. Her shoulders exited the window and as she crossed the threshold, a stream of vomit cascaded from her mouth. It was so startling that time slowed to a crawl and the fountain of half-digested food seemed to arc upward like the highlighted basketball of the final shot of a championship game. (I’m pretty sure that if we were to watch it again on the parking lot security camera that even the footage would replay in slow motion.)

The vehicle she was in didn’t slow down as it turned, causing the arc of faux oatmeal and detritus to bend as it traveled. As distasteful as the image was, I couldn’t look away. I’ve not seen action that graceful since my early years watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. There were now two small creeks of vomit on the parking lot. If I failed to mention it, this happened within a few feet of where we were standing.

While we felt bad for the woman, Dawn looked at me, and we laughed, in part due to the absurdity of what happened. There was no way to help the woman as she sped away. It seemed ridiculous that whoever was driving took off after the first round of sickness, much less as the poor girl continued to be sick. The entire moment caught us off guard and the dissonance of how quickly it happened caused Dawn to lose her usual sense of decorum and good taste. We were still laughing as we made our way through produce and the dairy aisle. It’s difficult to explain the hilarity of the moment, except to compare it t to the unnatural urge to laugh like a fool at funerals, or the inability to control a snicker when confronted with someone angrily telling you to “be serious.” Dawn usually can’t even stand the image of anyone throwing up, even on television. This woman had just provided an anatomical demonstration in 3-D, within a few feet of us, sound and visual on full display.

Surprisingly, my appetite for an entire bin of cucumber dill dressing has vanished.

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