Yeah, I know. You've got a stomach like a goddamn billy goat. But for the rest of us, sometimes feats of gut-dumping athleticism are unavoidable. They come after chasing beer with liquor, drinking on an empty stomach, drinking on a full stomach, drinking too much, too fast, or drinking too much for too long. Yes, even the best of us have had a night's worth of liquid courage blaze back out our esophagus with burning fury. It's no fun, but it can be damn funny. With that in mind, I went searching for the city's best puke parables. Many were enthused to tell them. Time heals all wounds.
At newly restored Cecil's Tavern (600 West Gray), two men in Aggie caps are cueing them up. One nurses a longneck, the other a vodka tonic.
I waste no time. "Gimme your best puke story," I say after introducing myself.
Vodka takes the ball and runs with it.
"Mine happened a couple weeks ago, actually," he says, half smirking. "I had been drinking all night."
"Real shocker!" Longneck chimes in.
They laugh and high-five, pregnant with happy thoughts of intoxication past.
"Riiiiiiiight. Real shocker. Anyway, I'd been drinking all night. I was at a party where the host had rented a frozen margarita machine. I think I might have emptied it myself twice."
"Afterwards I'm hungry, so I go to Whataburger. It's, like, 3 a.m. and there's a pretty big line of cars at the drive-thru. After I order I begin feeling nauseous. By the time I get to the window I feel like I'm going to hurl. I'm just thinking, 'Please, God, let me keep it down until I pull out of the parking lot I don't want all these people in line to see me toss my cookies.' "
"Did God abandon you?" I ask.
"Shiiiiit. The girl at the window hands me my bag of food and I projectile-vomit all over it and her arm!"
"Are you serious, brother?" Longneck wails in shocked disbelief.
"Totally serious. The girl was pissed. She was black and she screamed, 'Oh, no you didn't, white boy!' I thought she was going to crawl through the window and beat my ass."
"Did she?" I inquire.
"No. I peeled out of there. I left my puked-on food in the parking lot. What's worse -- I had already paid."
"Muh-ther-fuck-er!" Longneck smiles. "Is that why we always have to eat at Wendy's now?"
Later, on the deck, a young man adorned with a Dead Milkmen T-shirt, pierced eyebrow and trucker cap adds his tale of woe to the vile bile Hall of Hatred.
"I was downstairs at Fitzgerald's [2706 White Oak] with my friend here," he begins.
"Man. Do you really have to tell this again?" pipes in Friend.
"Come on, man. It's funny. Anyway, I go to the bathroom, and I'm about to wash my hands after taking a piss when I notice that someone has puked about a gallon of -- I don't know what -- just disgustingly foul shit in the sink. It's almost full. It looked like chili with green peas in it or something."
"It was horrible," Friend recalls.
"So I go up to my buddy here and tell him that there is a drunk girl in the bathroom and that she's showing her pussy. It's the only lie I could think of that would get him to follow me in there."
"It's a good one," I concede.
"Thanks. He follows me in and just as we're about to turn the corner to look at the 'girl,' I stick both of my hands wrist-high into the puke and throw it at him. It went all over his shirt, his hat and his face!"
"You're still friends with this guy after that?" I ask, amazed.
"Every day I wonder why. I still owe you for that one, man."
The guys' recollections have been pretty retch-ed. Could the ladies' accounts of upchuck upend them?
Inside the comfy, naked wooden walls of Slainte Irish Pub (509 Main) a group of them sits with pints of motor oil. Turns out, they're not only together, but together (wink wink, nudge nudge).
"One time I was at South Beach making out with a girl," one remembers fondly.
The others in the group start laughing wildly -- already familiar with the story.
"Oh, this must be good," I say, giddy with anticipation.
"Well, more gross than anything. I had had too many vodka sours. I was making out with this chick, and I puked all over her."
Ho-hum. Most of the stories I've heard over the last few weeks have involved an innocent bystander being doused in sick. Nearly half of those were mid-snog.
"Well, she had puke all over her shirt and chin. And we kept making out."
Okay. That's different.
Later, up the street at the Speakeasy (110 Main), a young woman tells me a story that takes the puke cake.
"It was my friend's Sweet 16 and she had just gotten a car. We went out to celebrate. Her boyfriend was driving. We were driving down I-10 back to Baytown and she tried to puke out the window. We were going pretty fast and the puke sprayed all over the car. There didn't seem to be one inch not covered -- the dashboard, the seats, the floorboards, us. "
"Happy birthday!" I add.
"Yeah, right. So her boyfriend started freaking out, because he still had to take her home to her father. We pulled off to a 24-hour do-it-yourself car wash. We took her out of the car, vacuumed it, gave it a thorough once-over."
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Shades of Pulp Fiction; namely, Harvey Keitel's character the Wolf.
"After we cleaned the car, her boyfriend says we need to clean her up. We stripped her butt-naked and took the pressure hose to her. We dried her with the other side of her puked-on clothes. She was a cheerleader and had a uniform in her trunk. We dressed her in that and took her home to Daddy."
That must have been one proud papa.
Funny thing. My best puke story involves me wearing a cheerleading uniform, too. Maybe next time.