“No. Not here. Not in a Panera parking lot.”
But yes. The moment had arrived. I was either car sick, or road trip drive-thru-breakfast-burrito-sick. It was likely a combination of these two factors that unleashed my famously vulnerable constitution.
As my older brother recently said to me, “You’re the only person I’ve ever known who has actually used those seat-pocket airplane bags.”
And this is why I’ll never earn the nickname “Ol’ Iron Gut.” So many stories I could tell about not being Ol’ Iron Gut.
Like the LaGuardia Airport departures-terminal story. I’ll never forget that day I had to abruptly tumble out of a traffic-weaving, nicotine-diffusing shuttle van. The sidewalk trash can was perfectly placed. For a huge audience.
Lean in, baby.
And so history echoed itself this holiday season. I can say with confidence the only thing worse about not feeling well is not feeling well in such a public manner. I’m good at that.
Without getting graphic, this most recent episode occurred at a strip mall-y area in the heart of the Ozarks. Minutes before, as the car lurched from too many traffic lights, my skin turned every Pantone shade of green.
There was not a moment to spare when my husband swerved into the parking lot. The car might have still been rolling when I hopped out.
Despite the misery, I was thankful for the fresh air and the narrow, curbed-in grass median I stumbled upon. To me, that median was the most beautiful, important patch of landscape in the world. But as promised, I won’t hurl out any more details here.
The back story of this fiasco is actually a backseat story. My husband and I invited a dear uncle to visit another dear uncle in a Missouri nursing home.
I graciously (stupidly) offered our guest the shotgun seat, so I was in the back of the car for nearly three hours. It was super sunny, the windshield visors were down and my view of the horizon was choppy.
Plus, I was sleep-deprived, and my innards were saying, “Hmm, An undercooked breakfast burrito three hours ago? Oh, no she di-int.”
But yes, I did.
Then, there was relentless stop-and-go traffic. And the horrible radio station.
“Turn that off!”
It’s so unlike me to bark backseat commands, especially with a polite, dignified guest in the car, but I was in survival mode. When one is unwell, the last thing one wants to hear is bad FM music segue into a loud, locally produced spiel about a transmission-fluid sale.
Once I got off the median, I was pale and off kilter. I had to rally, because we were on an important mission. I regrouped as we headed to the nursing home. I walked into the place only to U-turn not long after.
We thought it would be best to get my equilibrium back and try to nap in the car while my husband and his uncle carried on with the whole point of the trip.
Everything else on the itinerary was nixed that day. I was useless. All I needed was to be horizontal. On the way home, I rode shotgun and checked the clock every five minutes.
Bucking up was not easy, but an unexpected twist gave me hope I was stronger than I thought.
We stopped to refuel. My husband, bless his heart, was famished. He popped into the convenience store and unwittingly bought the worst possible thing one could snack on while sitting next to a recovering queasy person: beef jerky.
This time, though, I kept quiet. I just focused on the future. The horizon. We made it home without further incident.
In the grand scheme of things this messed up trip was not a big disaster. It was a reminder that we never know when we must muddle through sudden unpleasantness.
Maybe I’m one step closer to becoming Ol’ Iron Gut — in spirit, anyway.
Reach Denise Snodell at firstname.lastname@example.org follow her on Twitter @DeniseSnodell.