I was wondering why throw up smells so bad. Why does it have to have this odor. Couldn't it smell a little better. What do you think?
Dear Jonnie Two Bags,
As I write this it is the day of Saint Valentine, named for the patron saint martyred via electro-chair after he slew a crowd of cupids in the ancient Grecian city-state of Chi Cago. It is also the day of Lupercalia, known to some as the Day of the Amorous Wolf. Warren Ellis, Chief Propagandist for the Internets, has taken to calling this the day of the Horny Werewolf. As ever, his reasoning is obscure, but propitious:
In ancient times those beset by Love would flee through the dusty streets of Rome, driven before men wearing wolf masks and bearing scourges. The masked men — symbolic of the lunar-locked wolfish demi-men, who founded Rome-Upon-the-Hills — would whipcrack upon the Love-struck, tearing their amorous backs to tatters. If their Love survived the onslaught, then it was true and blessed — although, until the lacerations healed, it was awkward, and generally insisted on "standing quickies" or the "modèle du chien" rather than the posture of the missionary saints. If their Love failed the test and fled from the whip-flurried streets, then it was but a fleeting fancy, and unfit to be called Love. "Let it live out its days alone in the hills beyond our Hills," the Romans would say, "Let it masturbate in the dust and dirt, among the thornéd bushes, lubricated only with its own pitiful tears. It is not worthy of lycanthropic cupidites such as we."
This is a cautionary tale, Jonnie O'-Deux-Sacks.
When the Roman empire fell to the uncivilized tribes of Europa, the Bull, the tradition was lost. No more was Love tested by thick-armed men wielding leather. No more was it challenged by physical pain and trauma, in a crucible of mud and dust and flesh. Love was given freedom and it wandered and multiplied and layed with all who came to it — generally in the posture of the Missionary, although the Mission, to this day, remains unclear. Love became a harlot and a strumpet and gave herself away freely. Love, with challenge removed, was diminished. In short, Love became Cheap.
My teenagéd typist, Jarwaun, is a schoolchild of Detroit. As today was most frigid and snowsome, Jarwaun and his young brother Trael were unschooled, and instead did visit with me throughout the day. As we played of the checkers, I idly asked the young Trael if he was saddened that his elementary school had been cancelled, and he would not get to partake in the diluted, meaningless modern pablum of exchanging mass-produced paste-board cards and flavorless chalk eating-hearts. He grew still, set down the checker piece he was about to move, and then looked upon me with his dark eyes.
"No," he did speak.
And silence, then:
"I was gonna give some, but," he did glance over his shoulder, to where his brother sat looking upon the Internet at HisSpace, "I heard D'Mario Rucker telling Jarwaun that last year he got a girl a Valentine and she," he checked Jarwaun again, then looked back to me and whispered, "And she put her mouth on his Private Area."
I jerked back, involuntarily aghast. "Her razor sharp beak?!?" I did gasp.
Trael nodded solemnly, "Her mouth full of teeth," he looked upon me quietly, and we shared of the manifold horrors of this world, "I don't wanna give no Valentines, and I don't wanna get none either. I'm glad we had Snow Day today."
I could see why. He looked down to the board, lifted and placed his checker, and did not speak of the matter more.
I am sure you are wondering what this has to do with your vomit. Your vomit, that you insist on smelling over and over again — a quality mammals are renowned for in the greater Kingdom; you are known for this unhealthy obsession with one's own bodily excretions. Your vomit smells "so bad" because it is a sign of Bad Things that have been wrecked upon your person. Did you drink too much of the alcohol? Did you fall ill to an influenza or a car-sickness? Have you fallen for the Love-With-Teeth, angered her with the predictable fair of a bloodless, neutered Lupercalia: the trite Hallmarkéd cards?
The esophagus is your body's telegraph wire, and the vomit is the stuttering, staccato electro-impulse, a morse-code missive reading:
WE HAVE BEEN MISTREATED *STOP*
EAT NO MORE WHITE CASTLE *STOP*
BEWARE LOVE'S TOOTHY EMBRACE *STOP*
The vomit is your body's lone messaging system; it smells "so bad" for the same reason the fire's alarm must be "so goddam loud": To get your attention, you foolish, feculent, grunt-rubbing, loveless ape. All alarums bear the same, singular message: Stop doing that which you now do, and instead FLEE!.
Today I am vexed and saddened: Weeks past, when the burly naked he-wolves of Fortune whipped me and my love Hazel bloody in the streets, she fled indoors and left me to the lick my wounds alone, among the chaparral of the dry hills outside of Rome.
Was it I who changed, or was it she? Was it wrong to save her life with that saw and that tubing, the torches and the tape? Who can know . . .
I catch myself in these thoughts of my heart and I smell vomit here in my tank. Like Trael, I should heed it and move on, but like a dumb ape I keep returning to poke and sniff the sickness.
The Giant Squid
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Copyright (c) 2000, 2004, David Erik Nelson, Fritz Swanson, Morgan Johnson