ShoreBilly's Swill on ShoreBread

When we left off last week it was during the waning hours of the evening before my anniversary. I was bummed out about Anquan Boldin heading west, and mentally preparing to wow my wife the next day. I had just finally gotten the last of three little girls to sleep, and made myself a cocktail to unwind and make sure they were all in a deep sleep before I retired myself. I had the late shift tonight, and my wife was already sleeping. I’ve mentioned that she is in nursing school, and on Tuesdays she has to leave the house by 5:00 am to be at the hospital for her clinicals. So reading stories, feeding bottles, and rocking the kids to sleep is the least I can do. As I sipped my vodka, I was sort of having anxiety about the events of the day that was ending and the events that would transpire tomorrow. I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what was making me so uneasy, but I knew that I would have difficulty sleeping tonight.

I finally forced myself to go to bed well after midnight. I laid there for quite awhile wide awake and with my mind racing. I had this sinking feeling that something just wasn’t right in my house that night. They may have just been in my head, but I swore I kept hearing noises that I usually don’t hear. I got out of bed approximately five times to check on things. I went to each of my daughters’ rooms and checked on them. I looked around on both floors to see if anything was amiss. I turned on both front and back porch lights and looked around. Everything seemed to be in order after my fifth paranoid tour of casa de Nichols so I went back to bed hoping that by now my old friend Mr. Ketel One will have kicked in to work his slumber inducing magic. I finally started to doze off a little after 3:00 am.

At about 3:30, I was jolted out of sleep by a sound coming from another part of the house. This time I was positive it was not just in my head. I believe my parental intuition, or some sort of sixth sense you gain once you’ve been a father for the fourth time, had been keeping me awake to that point. I was about to break several of my own personal rules, but it was crisis time, so, at least in theory they were acceptable. The first is that I ALWAYS throw on a pair of sweat pants, or gym shorts, and a tee shirt before leaving my room. I’m raising three beautiful little girls in this house and I’m desperately trying to instill a sense of modesty and morality as I do. These three sweet little angels will one day be teenagers. It would be pretty hypocritical of me to put the kybosh on their first bikini purchase when their childhood memories are clouded with images of Daddy parading around in just a pair of boxers. At this point in my life, practically everything I do is a preemptive strike towards when these girls want to start dating. By that point, I’ll be far too old to chase anyone down or intimidate anyone, so any groundwork I can lay now will prove to be time well spent when I’m a 58 year old curmudgeon.

My other rule, which I was about to break, pertains to footwear. I ALWAYS have a pair of slippers and at least one pair of flip flops on the floor on my side of the bed. When I get out of bed for any reason, my feet go directly into whichever of those I’ve chosen to wear without actually touching the floor. I won’t even walk the four steps across the bedroom to our bathroom in bare feet. There are multiple reasons for my quirkiness about this. First, it’s really no big secret that I’m just a stranger’s sneeze in an elevator away from being full-blown OCD. Second is that I have a 20 pound cat that I’m pretty sure is mentally challenged. On occasion when she’s feeling spiteful she’ll forgo the long jaunt to the litter box and void her contents in some inconvenient places. I’ve not yet figured out a way to make her disappear without the kids asking questions. With that in mind, I’ll mention that I have a pretty weak stomach as it pertains to bodily functions and them touching me. (This will come into play later in the story). And finally, I had a bad experience as a child involving me barefoot and a slug.

I leapt from my bed in one motion and started running toward the direction of the sound. Needless to say, I failed to put anything on so I was going top speed in the darkness in nothing but a pair of boxer shorts. The first sound I heard which woke me up, turned out to be my eight-year-old daughter climbing over the baby gate after descending the spiral staircase in pitch darkness. She’s the only kid in the world who refuses a nightlight and wants it as dark as possible on the second floor. By the time I was out of my bedroom and half way through the dining room, I heard my little princess whimpering.

The poor little thing had been jostled from her peaceful slumber by a vicious stomach virus. She was attempting desperately to traverse the house and get to the comforting arms of Mommy and Daddy while the levels of both her extreme discomfort and her stomach contents were rapidly rising. She entered the kitchen from one end almost exactly as I entered it from the other. Bless her little heart, she made it about ¾ of the way through the kitchen and toward the big garbage can before her gut levies were breached. Even with her young age, the darkness, and the present circumstances, she had the presence of mind to at least aim her projectile tsunami of nastiness in the direction of the trashcan. She actually even got about a quart or so in the can—which I thought was pretty impressive. Herein lies the problem. The trashcan was at the end of the kitchen that I was now entering. I went to make the turn at full speed into the kitchen, barefoot, in complete darkness, and right where the carpet gives way to tile.

My plant foot hit a large pool of the first wave of recently evicted intestinal dwellers. I went into the air like a cartoon character who had just stepped on a banana peel. I’m almost certain that at about the five-foot mark above faux marble tile I got completely horizontal. At this time, gravity intervened and hurled me back to the floor with the back of my head, and my shoulders landing first. When I was once again Earthbound, momentum caused me to continue my slide through Lake Chunkafunk. I then took out my daughter like she was a second baseman and I was trying to break up a double play. She immediately bounced back up with the quickness and grace of an Olympic gymnast who had just failed to stick her landing in the medal round. In an instant, there she was, back arched, jazz fingers to the sky, and face in the kitchen garbage can purging herself of the viral demons. I’m not nearly as spry or graceful as she, so I was lying on the kitchen floor making freaking snow angels in a heaping pile of a recycled version of last night’s dinner.

I got up as quickly as I could and did my best to hug her with one arm and hold back her beautiful, flowing blond hair with the other. I offered her as much encouragement and consolation as I could as she desperately tried to hit her target with the flu faucet on full force. Despite the number of words it took me to paint the disturbing mental picture you are now enduring, this whole process up to now had only occupied about five seconds. Hopefully as you read it, you were visualizing it in slow motion. That’s what I was going for. Anyway, by this point my wife had arrived on the scene and quickly assumed the role of commanding officer. I happily and eagerly accepted my demotion. My daughter, presumably having no internal contents left ceased her Technicolor hysterical laughter. My superhero wife scooped her up and ran her into our bathroom and put her in the shower.

I watched and waited until I was sure they were out of earshot. Then I grabbed the trashcan and proceeded to empty my own stomach contents. I told you I was weak when it comes to this stuff.

Now I’m going to end it right there for this week. I didn’t expect it to, but this story has now picked up enough momentum that will carry it through at least one more column. I’m writing about a 72-hour span, and we’re less than twelve hours into the story. This one just keeps getting better. Trust me. So this is the cliffhanger I’m leaving you with: a mental image of me pathetically sitting on my kitchen floor in the dark wearing only my underduds and vomiting violently. Suddenly the story about my one-year-old falling in the shower doesn’t seem quite so disturbing does it? Thanks for playing along.

Until next week,

Syd Nichols