I had Panda Express at 11:30am Friday morning and the rest of the day just went downhill from there.
Throughout the day, Shanghai Steak and Beijing Beef were chanting “You should have gone to Potbelly’s and had the salad Jefffffffff! Shoulda went and gotten the salad, Jefffffffffff!”
There’s a Panda Express and a Potbelly’s in my building and the line at PB was just too long! So now you have a blog post about vomiting on trains.
Around 4pm, Shanghai and Beijing were calling all their friends like their parents were away. Of course they invited all the bad kids. And so the party in my gut began. Fried Rice had no choice but to go along. I don’t blame Fried Rice.
I considered getting a cab for the walk to the train. But I didn’t. I was worried that I’d throw up in the cab. Which says all you need to know about my stupidity. Because **SPOILER ALERT** this story reaches its climax with me throwing up on the train. So if I was suspecting that motion might be a problem, why didn’t I plan for the train? Why didn’t I bring a bag with me? Why didn’t I camp out in the fumy lavatory and just get it out of the way? Why didn’t I just have the f@#king salad?!
The answer is simple: if I did those things, you wouldn’t have this epic tale of The GREAT PANDA UPRISING.
When I got to the train, I immediately went to the upper level like I always do because denial. It was 5:30 and waves of nausea were growing stronger. I was in the first seat, next to the stairs, probably the most secluded part of the upper level. And that’s the only good in this whole saga. So you can stop reading here if you want a happy ending.
I thought I just need to hang on for 10 minutes. If I yack before this train pulls out of the station, they’ll kick me off. Then I’ll be covered in puke and stranded.
So I mustered all of my will power, which is not considerable at all, to ride this bitch out! An icy wave of nausea spread up through my body and I thought OH SHIT THIS IS IT, HERE COMES THE PANDA!!
But it didn’t. I told myself I got this! I only need to hang in there until the Oak Lawn stop.
Even though there were plenty of seats available, some people were sitting on the stairs directly behind me because people are assholes. If I got up to run to the garbage can at the bottom of the stairs or the lavatory, then I ran the risk of hitting people if I didn’t make it. And with the waves crashing through me, I was sure that just standing up would bring about end game. So I was effectively sealed in.
At 5:40 the train began carrying me to relief. I was shivering and sweating. I kept moving and fidgeting to try to find some pose that gave comfort. Comfort was chased away by queasy. My eyes were closed when the conductor came by to audit tickets. The world was rocking and full of sounds. The air was stale and recycled and smelled like oil and grease. My wallet with my ticket never made it back into my pocket. The next wave brought everything out.
I thought I could do it quietly. On hell no. It was cartoonish. It was a caricature of vomiting. I had maybe five eruptions and all of them were loud as hell. “HUUUUAAAACCCCKKK! HUUUUUAAAAACCCKK!” Each followed by a splash, like workers tossing buckets of mop-water out behind the restaurant after closing. “HUUUUAAAACCCCKKK! HUUUUUAAAAACCCKK!” And in between, I could hear people gasping. “HUUUUUUUUUAAAAAAAAAAACCCCKKK!” I remember having a little clarity, wondering if my loud retching would spark a chain reaction. SPLASH!
Chunks were everywhere.
I learned two things about Panda Express immediately after my stomach emptied all over the wall, floor, seat and my clothes:
Throwing up Panda Express just feels right. I half-expect to find somewhere on their website a disclaimer stating that “Panda Express products are for entertainment purposes only and under no circumstances should anything we serve be passed through the digestive tract of any human being anywhere—especially not Shanghai Steak or Beijing Beef. Should this occur, please call our hotline immediately. Or poison control. Recommended usage includes vomiting our products as soon as possible, preferably on a train.”
And Panda Express tastes the same coming up as it does going down. No bullshit. It was just as flavorful. I take that as proof that you’re supposed to give it back.
By now I had everyone’s attention. I’m sure they thought I was drunk. The first thing I did was hold up a dripping hand and apologize. Then I tried a joke. “It was the Panda Express,” I told them all. No one laughed. They started giving me every tissue in their possession. I wiped the best I could. Someone offered to get a conductor and I said “Yes please,” but no conductor ever came. I sat in my mess the rest of the way home. With no way to clean any of it up.
I stripped down to my t-shirt. My jeans were soaked. They were my crappy jeans anyway. I had a moment to be grateful that I didn’t throw up on my Urban Star Jeans. Which would be a good tagline for the company.
I’m glad I didn’t throw up on my Urban Star Jeans.
Which made me think about the jean company I want to create: Classy Ass Jeans. Can someone fund this? Seriously, I don’t know where these posts go once I click publish. It feels a lot like I’m tossing a message in a bottle into the ocean. But if this should be shared somehow with someone who can make it happen, please make Classy Ass Jeans a reality.
Classy Ass Jeans—they’re the classiest!
When the train got to Oak Lawn, I fled from the car and ran to find a conductor. Someone at the last stop gave me a newspaper which I used to cover the mess, and I wanted to let someone know that it still needed to be cleaned. I found one assisting a handicapped person.
“Hey, hi, I just wanted to let you know that I threw up one car back.”
“ . . . ”
“I covered it all with newspaper, but I couldn’t clean it up.”
“ . . . ”
“I . . . I had nothing.”
He just stood there looking at me like I was a shit-stain. “Are you serious?”
“ . . . ”
I now ride in a different car on the train home. I’m in seclusion in the quiet car. Where people may or may not silently judge me. I don’t know. I didn’t have my eyes open to know who witnessed the GREAT PANDA UPRISING.
But I have to walk past the car I used to ride on the way home and I can feel their judgment. Looking at me, thinking: There he is! Look at him! Who does he think he is, all not throwing up?