In high school, I worked at a Round Table Pizza briefly before I flamed out of that joint like a comet engulfed in napalm when I called in "sick" from a payphone over Memorial Day weekend with my friends in the background yelling "yeah, she's really sick!"* There were, however, two highlights of that job: One, eating Club crackers dipped in Ranch dressing straight out of the salad bar, and Two, Aaron Miller, skate-boy wonder and delivery-boy genius--God of all that was Pizza and high school girls.
Aaron was this kind of boy: 6'1"l; board-straight blond hair that hung in his eyes; sweet and silent skate-boarder. He was hip in an offhand way, the way that most of us try to affect and never can. He was effusively gorgeous. And he had an ability that riveled most superheroes' super strengths. Aaron Miller could puke on command.
And no, not just gag, because that is hardly impressive. Everyone can gag on command. I pracitically trained my parents at an early age by doing just that ("Does that contain a beet product? GAH!"). And no, Aaron didn't use his finger to make himself puke. In fact, Aaron could induce self-vomiting sans implement.
I learned this New Year's Eve one year. Aaron had asked for this night off and Holly, the evil 26-year old** who managed the place in a manner similar to the way Ghengis Khan might have had he been relegated to Round Table Pizza as opposed to the Mongoloian countryside, had told him no. In fact, she denied all requests for time off that evening, making every single person who worked there come in depsite the fact that there was barely room to move in the kitchen with all of us there.
I was in the back washing dishes, about an hour into the shift, when Aaron, told me he was getting off work early to go to a party.
"Oh yeah," I said. "Because Holly will so, like, totally, like, let you go, like, right now."***
"She will, swear." He said.
At that precise moment, Holly came into the back and went into her office, leaving the door open. Aaron turned to me and mouthed, "Watch this." He rolled his head from side to side several times, then said, a little too dramatically, "I feel sick." Then he leaned over the trash can, opened his mouth and threw up.
And not just a little throw-up. Not some smallish offering to the trashcan, some thin rivulets of miscreant saliva and soda, something that looks like soup. He threw-up. He puked. Real food. A torrent of it. A flood.
"Oh my God!" Holly said, and came running out of the office. This was a big deal. Not her taking the Lord's name in vain, because she cursed like a sailor and had once coined the phrase "Motherfucking Goddamned Pizza Sauce." But her showing something akin to an emotion? One that wasn't rage, anger and/or frustration? Impossible! She was barely human.
"Aaron," she said--I barely recognized her voice at this point since it sounded feminine AND kind," Aaron, what happened?"
"I don't know," he said. "I guess I'm sick."
"You need to go home Aaron," she said.
Then came the pièce de résistance.
"No! I can't leave the restaurant on the busiest night of the year!"
This response was delivered with such a straight face that it made me momentarily slack-jawed. Aaron was the boy who routinely, as in every night he ever worked, got high in the store room. The boy who said "I hope the fucker burns down," (referring to "the restaurant") on Christmas Eve when Holly, hater of holidays and all that is good in the world, made us work.
Holly fell for it. "You're so sweet, Aaron," she said. Now I was ready to puke myself. "Take tomorrow off too."
Aaron nodded and then winked at me when Holly turned around. That bastard, I thought. That sly fucking bastard.
I almost fell in love with him over that episode. I remember wanting to have his little skate-board babies who could puke on command.
So why do I bring it up? Last night, Thing Two dramatically announced at the dinner table, "I am so sick! I think I am going to throw-up." Then he went into the bathroom, shrugged his shoulders, and threw up. And not a little bit. Not apple juice or anything like that. Puke. A torrent, a flood.
"Oh my God!" I said. "Thing Two, you can't go to school tomorrow!"
He straightened up. "Okay!" he said.
I might have been suspicious, but the puke--I'm telling you, the puke! I put him into bed, read to him, and brought him cups of Sprite and popsicles. He didn't have a fever--wasn't even flushed--and smiled the entire time. It wasn't until his dad came over this morning to watch him while I worked that I realized the regurgitating genius I was dealing with. "Papa," he said, "I threw up last night."
"I know buddy. I'm sorry."
"Me too, Papa." Cue big, wide eyes and small, sweet smile. "Papa, can we go to the toy store today?"
Before I could say anything, he replied "Sure, buddy. No problem. We can even get you some new Legos."
Thing Two smiled. And somewhere, a skater-boy named Aaron looked up into the bright light of the morning sun, and knew that his legacy would continue. Or something like that.
*That turned out to be the only job I was ever fired from, I'm sort of proud to say. This is probably because I realized that calling in sick from a payphone on the way to Heavenly Valley is A Bad Idea.
**In our own solipsistic, teenage way, I remember we constantly made fun of Holly for being "old." Apparently "old" to us, at that point, was anyone who could buy alcohol without having to give a kickback to the wino on the street corner so he'd go in to Thrifty's for us.
***Yes, I said "like" that much. It was 1990 in California, people. Give me a break. I know there's some photo of you somewhere with big Aquanet hair.