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Childhood Poison by Ray Printer Friendly

Under the best of conditions, I generally don't take care of myself very well. I try, sometimes. There will be weeks at a time that I exercise regularly, eat healthy, go to bed at a decent hour. Sometimes I'll be able to maintain this lifestyle for months.

And then something will happen. Maybe it's a road trip that changes my eating habits from healthy to fast food. Maybe it's two weeks of rain, or a too-busy schedule that keeps me from exercising. Usually, it's just laziness and lack of will power.

My princess was out of town for the entirety of last week, and while I at first viewed her absence as a chance for me to get my dietary habits on the right track, that plan soon fell apart.

You see, my princess is one of those people who looks great even though she eats things like waffles or cupcakes for breakfast, chips for lunch, and ice cream for supper. I don't blame her for my obesity, but as I mentioned a second ago, my will power sucks, and when I open the refrigerator and see a bowl of lettuce next to dish of eight-cheese lasagna, or a box of raisins next to a bag of cookies, the decision is an easy one. By easy, I mean that I devour a plate of lasagna and half the bag of cookies before it even occurs to me that I should've picked the salad and raisins.

With her gone, I figured I could prepare myself healthy meals, and by the time she returned, maybe I'd be on the right track far enough that I'd be able to resist the urge to eat good food instead of good-for-me food.

She left Saturday. By Monday, I realized this was not going to be the case. Instead of going to the grocery store to stock up on healthy food, I sat around in my underwear, playing video games. Instead of using my evenings to exercise, I used them to read comic books.

By Wednesday, I had ingested pretty much everything edible in my house, and despite the fact that I had been eating out quite a bit, the only clean dishes to be found were: the top of the blender, a couple butter knives, and three glasses.

So when I came home for lunch, I was at a loss. I searched through the cabinets and came up empty. Then I remembered the grocery bag on the living room floor. I'd had to make a quick trip to the grocery store on Saturday night and on impulse, had grabbed a couple cans of Spaghetti-O's. Sure enough, they were still in the white plastic bag, right by front door.

I grabbed a can and carried it to the kitchen, leaving the bag on the floor where I'd found it.

I rummaged through the cupboards, looking for anything that would pass as a bowl, and finding nothing. So I opened the can, tossed the lid in one of the many fast-food bags collected on my counter, and used a plastic spoon to shovel the fire-orange goop into my food hole.

Moments later, the can was empty, and a quiet nausea was creeping into my guts. I was still hungry. I knew better, but the little voice of sanity that usually tells me something is a terrible idea gets more muted the longer I'm away from my princess, so it seemed like a good idea to go back and grab the second can.

Well, maybe not a good idea, but not such a terrible idea. Within seconds, I'd worked my way halfway through the second can, and my insides felt like a vandalized building. Still, though, I knew if I didn't eat the entire can, I'd have a partial can of Spaghetti-O's sitting around in my refrigerator until who knows when, so I ate the whole thing.

By the time I started back to work, I was realizing what a truly terrible idea this was. I felt bloated and gross and sleepy.

Sadly, this is a feeling I'm more than a little familiar with, and while it felt like I was going to burst, I was pretty sure it would pass within the hour.

It didn't. In fact, it got increasingly worse.

"I feel like that fat guy in the move Seven," I told my coworkers. "The glutton guy who ate himself to death."

"Is this just another scheme of yours to meet Brad Pitt?"

"He's just so dreamy. Seriously, I feel like I'm going to pop. Everything in this building is gonna be covered in that weird orange color of Spaghetti-O's. If I was smart, I'd make myself puke right now, but throwing up Spaghetti-O's is pretty much the worst thing ever."

They agreed. I've done my share of vomiting, and Spaghetti-O's are up there as the absolute worst thing to regurgitate. Maybe it's because I'm scarred from childhood--many a summer day I'd eat them for lunch, and then run out into the heat to play. Maybe it's because they already taste pretty weird, and when you mix them with stomach acid, it forms some hideous combination that is worse than its parts. I don't know, I'm no scientist. All I know is, puking Spaghetti-O's is awful.

I bitched about it all afternoon, and by the end of the day, I was wondering if I was going to be able to control the horrible disaster that was brewing in my guts.

I grew up in the Panhandle of Texas, where dead cattle on the side of the road was a common sight. At first, they just looked like dead cows, but if they sat out in the heat for a week, they started looking like grotesque hair balloons, bloated and sickly explosive.

That's how I felt when I entered my apartment that evening.

I'll spare you the horrible details, but it was not a pleasant experience.

I went to bed Wednesday night with the cold sweats, weak knees, and a horrible burning in the back of my throat. Also, my ass felt like someone had opened it up and dumped cayenne pepper in there.

Not in a good way, either.

I woke up Thursday morning feeling much the same way. Added to that was the feeling of dread, knowing that I had a day of work ahead of me.

I shuffled into the bathroom, stared into the mirror, and began the pep talk. These talks are usually reserved for hang over mornings, but I figured they'd work for this occasion, too.

"Okay, man, you can do this. You got plenty of sleep, you have time to get showered, that always helps. Drink a little water, maybe eat some breakf-"

And then I lunged to the toilet and puked up about half of my insides.

I had just enough time to flush before it was time to reverse position. I spent a lot of time wondering how long it takes for an extra-jalapeņo cheeseburger to get out of your system. I couldn't remember exactly when I'd had that for supper, but apparently, it was still in there. But rapidly exiting, in the most painful way possible.

I eventually got things under control, and made my way out to my desk. I didn't trust myself to get in the shower just yet. I got on my computer to bitch about my current situation:

After a while, I made my way into the shower, but it was almost immediately interrupted by another bout of my insides abandoning me. After another failed attempt, I finally managed to make it through my shower, and knew that I wasn't going to be able to make it into work.

When I felt like I could talk without choking on my intestines, I called my job, and hastily explained the situation.

"You know those Spaghetti-O's I was telling you about? They're trying to kill me."

"Well, keep us updated."

"Trust me, man--you really, really, don't want updates about this."

"That's not what I meant!"

I spent the day in bed, or when called for--which was much more often than I would've preferred--in the bathroom.

When I went back to work on Friday, one of my co-workers asked me if I really ate Spaghetti-O's. I hadn't seen him the afternoon I ate the two cans of Spaghetti-O's, so he hadn't heard me bitching about it.


"I thought you were just making a joke."

I work with some pretty weird people, but they're funny, so I was perplexed about how eating Spaghetti-O's could be considered a joke.

"You didn't hear about the recall?"

"What? No."

"Did your Spaghetti-O's have meatballs?"

"Hell yeah, they did." I'm fancy with my Spaghetti-O's.

He then pulled up some news page talking about the recall of fifteen million pounds of Spaghetti-O's.

Now, look. I don't know if I got a can (all right, two cans) of poisoned Spaghetti-O's. Chances are, some gross-ass little kid came along and picked up a can to beg his mom to buy it. Maybe the little bastard even slobbered all over the lid, I don't know. Kids are gross.

And I'm gross, too, because I ate them without heating them up, without even rinsing off the lid.

I do find it odd that I got mad-ass sick the day before they announced a recall, though.

"That sucks," my boss said, when I told her about the recall. "You think you should be able to trust certain foods. And when they let you down...well, it just sucks."

I laughed. I love the hell out of Spaghetti-O's, but I'd never trust them. They're kid food, which is probably just a little above dog food in the health department. You dump a bunch of shit in there because you know the creatures eating it aren't going to complain. If I found out there were horse hooves ground up in the meatballs, I wouldn't be all that surprised.

Honestly, Spaghetti-O's are probably one of those things you're naturally supposed to grow out of, like jumping off the roof using a sheet as a parachute, or ramping your bike out of a tree onto a trampoline.

I don't blame anyone for loving Spaghetti-O's, but I also think you better be ready to be poisoned by them every once in a while.

You can hold onto your childhood, but you have to be ready to pay the price.

Posted under The Rants on 6/19/10

Entered By Diane From NH
2010-06-21 22:49:11

A-Frickin-Men!!! Seriously, I'm sorry you were one of the many victims of Chef Boyardee's inattentiveness, but really. Any time we partake of processed foods (I mean like, SERIOUSLY processed) we're taking a wicked spin on the Wheel of Misfortune. Will it be Mild Nausea? Growling Bowels? Horrifying Sweats and Gagging? Or full-out Trip To The Hospital bacterial infestation???? Just having dinner these days is living life on the razor's edge.

Entered By Ray From Austin
2010-06-23 02:18:29

Actually, Chef Boyardee doesn't make Spaghetti-O's. And his name, to his close family, is apparently Billy. Yep, Billy Boyardee. As far as eating processed foods goes, I feel it's a pretty fair trade-off. I get quick, tasty food in exchange for obesity, heart problems, and an occasional game of will-I-die-in-the-bathroom. What's not fair about that?

Entered By Anonymous From Unknown
2010-09-14 23:08:22

Hillar! Laughed out loud while reading this!!

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