jeanine fritz
Editor's note:

Please wait a full 30 minutes after eating, before swimming, or reading this column.

My mother attests I threw up on her so many times as a baby that she wondered if I was a burgeoning fashion critic ("that top makes me puke, mom!").

The first time I recall losing my lunch was when she served my kid brother and I creamed spinach at dinner. It's still clear in my mind: Brian and I, covered in levels of snot and tears reserved only for bratty children and bone-melting breakups, my mother insisted we try "one bite for the love of God."

We did.

I don't know if it was the spinach or the art of sibling revenge, but in perfect sync we pressed our sticky little hands on the table, pushed back and yaked everywhere -- with our heads whipping side to side like two tiny choreographed children in desperate need of an exorcism.

I won't lie; to this day, picturing it still makes me smile. (Sorry, Ma!)

But I can't think of another time puking was funny. I remember barfing up lasagna after a birthday party and that it looked the same going in as it did coming out. I remember all the times in college I prayed to the porcelain gods. I remember spending a whole day laying on a Pepto-pink shag bathmat in someone's trailer because the fried chicken I ate on the way up to my first snowboarding trip did me wrong. I remember the winter I got the flu and laid on the hardwood floors, praying for death and wishing we'd been better about cleaning up the cat hair.

In my opinion, nausea is the worst version of illness.

If I ever say to you, "Gosh, I'm starting to feel like I'm gonna hurl," just back away slowly and run. Feel free to poke me with a stick or smack my hand with your shoe if I grab at your ankles because you do NOT want to be around for it. I transform into a pathetic mess, sniveling and whining and weeping and rolling around on the cold bathroom floor, while crying out for God to make it stop. I know 10 minutes after I yak I'll be fine, but in those moments when my stomach cramps up, my guts curdle and The Evil chambers up for release -- there is no hope.

Luckily, I'm not a puker. (Perhaps all that baby barf fulfilled most of my lifetime allotment.) Instead, I get hives and colds and headaches and so many bouts of gut rot and mud butt I should consider the past decade my own Tour of Doody. (TANGENT: This kind of soul-baring should put to rest the question why I don't have a real headshot with my column.)

Because I spew infrequently, it takes kind of a long time to figure out it's about to go down. Er, come up.

Thursday, around 11:30 a.m., as I mashed away at the keyboard atop the green exercise ball, my gut suddenly seized, doubling me over in pain with such ferocity it was as if my stomach was shivving me from the inside.

This increased over the next two hours until the dude next to me told me to go home. I teetered out to the truck, bent over like a bell tower employee and raced across town towards home.

Like an idiot, I decided this'd be a good time to check the mailbox I hadn't opened since Christmas. I climbed the stairs to my apartment, hunched over, sweating through my wool coat and carrying enough grocery store mailers to papier mache a Fiat-sized pinata, burst through the front door, dropped my purse but NOT THE MAIL (what is WRONG with me?) and raced to the bathroom. There, laying in my nest of Safeway coupons, defiant, sobbing, covered in snot and tears, I hurled.

I think a bad crab cake caused it, but what came out of me was the saag paneer I'd had for lunch, making this the second time creamed spinach and I had been at odds.