Many lament the mistakes and sins of their youth, and I am no different. For example, there was a brief period in my late teens where I felt that capri pants were quite fetching on me and complimented the front pulled miniature bangs I sported for a summer. We all make mistakes. Some of them are more misguided than others. In hindsight, the most noteworthy of my less than stellar choices I’ve made was a two-pronged error.
- After having lived in Oregon for my entire life, surrounded by trees and serenity, I moved to New York City and into East Harlem in the dead of winter at the tender age of 22.
- A few weeks after arriving, I got some seafood chow mien at 3:30 in the morning.
The worst errors are the ones where you have absolutely zero external forces guiding your mistake except your own stupidity. Where nobody did this to you but you. And there has never passed a day in my life where I, like Odysseus and his men, was unable to avoid crashing my ship into the rocks to heed the sirens song of easily accessible chow mien.
When I returned home, I shoveled this burbling mass of noodles, vegetables, and tainted seafood into my face with the joy that a child experiences when getting into the first of their Halloween candy haul. It was a euphoric experience. All of the flavors and carbohydrates sopped up the cheap whiskey in my stomach like a sponge as my taste buds danced on the rings of Saturn. While I drifted off to sleep watching some Netflix special with my eyes occasionally crossing, I finally knew peace.
That is until a few hours later at around 7 in the morning my body awoke me with the sensation of an ensnared beehive marauding in my stomach. I sat at the edge of my bed trying to ascertain and explain my way out of what I could tell in my heart what inevitable. For me, the lead up to food poisoning is exactly the same as the stages of grief: shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, testing, and acceptance.
Shock: “Oh fuck. Oh fuck I think I’m getting sick.”
Denial: “I can’t be getting sick. That’s not what’s happening. I just feel weird. I’ll go back to bed soon and be fine.”
Anger: “DAMMIT. DAMMIT I DON’T WANT TO BE SICK. FUCK. FUCK.”
Bargaining:” Okay, maybe I can just drink some water. If I have water and have vitamins, I can get out of this.”
Depression, typically done in the bathroom: “Oh no, this is happening. What have I done? I’m so stupid.. I’m gonna barf. I’m-“
Testing -or the first round of projectile vomiting- is far worse than vomiting from the flu or having too much to drink. This hurts. It’s as if your stomach, throat, skull, and even your teeth have been tied in knots and used to anchor an old stone hauling barge.
Acceptance, typically done shivering on the floor while sweating and wiping bile off of your cheek: “Okay, the moment I can get back to my bed, I’ll calculate how long I can stay in bed before I’m broke.”
Thus began by next week of abject uselessness. The first several says between non-stop fits of vomiting, I found myself so delirious that I began to marathon Modern Family, and dammit I thought that it was pointed and witty. That’s the level of malnutrition I was dealing with.
At night I laid awake watching snow fall from the night sky and on to the stone streets beneath my 7th story apartment wondering if this was how I died. Felled by my own hubris and love of greasy Americanized Chinese cuisine.
During the days I sweat while shivering, trying desperately to convince myself to get some kind of vitamins into my system. Like a young soldier trying to inch my way up the beach at Normandy on D-day I dredged downstairs and across the street to fetch some orange juice. I barely managed to return to my apartment whereupon which, after drinking one 6oz glass of juice, I spent the next two hours vomiting the aforementioned nutrients out of myself.
Around day four I spoke with parents in some kind of garbled infirmed patwa that gave even my father cause for concern. After all, what good was the cure all of ginger ale and rest if you couldn’t sleep or keep literally anything down?
On day five, two of my roommates finally came in to check on me. They informed me that they had been avoiding me because they didn’t want to catch what I had. Which was understandable. Until I realized shortly after they had left that that’s now how food poisoning works. They did however manage to compliment me on the recently acquired ab definition I was now sporting thanks to my severe illness, which although useless in my state, was admittedly a confidence booster. NOTE: Don’t get sick to lose weight. I shouldn’t have to say that, but here we are.
On day six the clouds parted, and my blood cells finally got back to work with such consternation and fortitude that I was able to eat a single packet of ramen noodles. A bit of a hair of the dog, all things considered. However, these noodles had been processed and gassed out of anything even close to nutritious so long ago that anything that could have possibly been living in them died a long time prior to getting my balmy hands on them.
Around the seventh day, I rose. Lazily I put on sneakers and made it two whole blocks to look at the river and have a peek at New Jersey through my bloodshot eyes. As I stared towards the south, I pondered how breathtaking it is that decades of life and experience can be chopped down like a sapling by a few microscopic particles stemming from poor refrigeration. Then I thought about all of those who have gone before us for the sin of simply being hungry. How many mountains of human bones there must be before we even knew which mushrooms were good or bad? I shudder to think.
Here at Critics Digest, I cannot possibly recommend that you get food poisoning, especially if you’re single, broke, in your early twenties, and need money. However, if you’re looking for a revamped perspective on the joys of being healthy, you’re only one helping of late-night seafood away from a master class in gratitude.