I write this — with difficulty.
My head, at long last, is above my knees. A white plastic-lined paper bag is propped open on the table beside me, waiting for anything that may ... come up.
They say that when you are suffering from seasickness, at first you are afraid you are going to die. Then you are afraid you never will.
What the collective “they” fail to mention is the insurmountable desire to take everyone down with you.
I write this sitting on the lido deck of a cruise ship sailing toward the British Virgin Islands. Not on one of the long lounge chairs you could curl up in the fetal position and sleep away your seasickness on. No, those were snatched up by folks with cast-iron stomachs who rose with the sun and secured spots with towels, thus claiming the most desired location and lounge chairs for their friends and family. Friends and family who have yet to show their faces.
Dear people who snatched the lounge chairs but haven’t used them:
Don’t worry; it’s cool. I’m dying over here, but I’ll just pull up another straight chair to awkwardly spread my body across. Never mind the backache that this will cause or the weird tweak in my neck. The important thing is that you will be comfortable, should you ever choose to appear. And don’t worry about snatching up all the spots in the sun. Seeing as I haven’t forfeited all of MY towels staking claim to territory I will never settle in, I have plenty of blue terrycloth to wrap around my shoulders and legs to hide my unshakeable trembling from the incessant vomiting. Thank you for your concern, though.
Perhaps you comfort criminals will eventually notice my dire state and will offer me one of your untouched lounge sanctuaries warming in the Caribbean sun. Of course, to notice me, you would first have to leave the 24-hour buffet. What a pity to miss out on your fourth helping of chicken tikka masala, beef Wellington and sashimi. I’ve heard it’s good. I’ve eaten pretty well myself. So far, I’ve managed to keep down some pretty fine dinner rolls and half a plain baked potato.
It’s not all the lounge chair lifters’ fault; they are far from the only people worth hating while I sit here stewing in my own misery. Oh, no, there are so many hate options. Options everywhere! People doing the limbo! People in the belly flop competition! Every person cha-chaing in the conga line! High on today’s hate list are ice cream eaters — one lactose lover, in particular.
Before I mustered the energy to pry myself from my rocking bed (not the good kind) and threw on some mismatched attire (I use the term “threw,” but the process was painstakingly slow) to exit my dark bedroom of death and wish for my early demise in a sunnier locale, healthier folks made their own way up to the lido deck and plopped their bottoms down in nearly every seat not occupied by the dry towels of the lounge chair leeches. I don’t fault these healthy cruisers. They have a right to their calypso music, pina coladas, floral button-up shirts and embarrassing attempts at line dancing. But their leaving only the spots near the ice cream machine vacated for the late-to-rise sick and weary like me was truly cruel.
Not only am I sick but now people in a constant line are bumping into my side-by-side chairs, taking little to no notice of my barf bag or the incredible triumph of my head resting above my waist. They mock me with their smiling faces, sea legs and chocolate-vanilla swirl.
Misery loves company, and I was debating which of these cone connoisseurs I wished my queasy constitution on the most, when a man I had seen twice before waiting in line for soft-serve suddenly doubled over and announced aloud, “I think I’m gonna hurl.” In that moment, I did not let him experience the embarrassment I had of vomiting on the floor of this fine ship. No, I decided to be a bigger person. I handed him my barf bag.
He held it before him, readying for the eruption. Then ... he sneezed.
He handed the bag back to me, saying, “False alarm. Good maternal instincts, though.”
Dear Sneezy Guy: Go bless yourself.