Punishment Fits the Crime

Some things are so unpleasant your brain tries to block out any memory of them, I decide – tightening my grip on the porcelain rim of the toilet bowl as I feel my stomach turning itself inside out – but once you’re exposed to them again, all those painful memories come flooding back.

My nose and mouth burn as I empty the contents of my stomach into the water. I cough, sputter, and spit several times, before I slump back against the wall next to the bathtub. My nausea temporarily subsiding, I reach out and press down the handle, flushing the toilet. What used to be more than a few rounds of champagne, Jameson, and Yuengling all recede down into the plumbing.

I look across at my roommate Matt. He’s slumped against the bathroom counter on the opposite side of the toilet. We’ve been here the last hour or so.

Matt groans, and closes his eyes. “I-I’m so sorry,” he stammers. “Last night just- it just- it got so out of hand,” he manages.

“Don’t be an idiot, that was a guh, (I fight back the urge to vomit again,) great fucking party. Glad we went,” I assure him. I’m not lying either: we spent the evening – leading into the early hours of the morning – at a 1920’s themed house party, with themed drinks and music to boot.

Upon getting home, I had enough time to take off my dress shirt before I started retching, but I’m still wearing the wool pin-striped pants I picked up at the thrift shop. My suspenders have slipped off my shoulders, and are partially tangled around my arms. Matt’s fedora is laying in the bathroom doorway.

“My head. Is kuh-ill-ing me. And my stomach isn’t doin’ great either,” Matt groans again.

“We’ll survive,” I assure him. Although I’m not so sure myself: I feel another wave of nausea swelling in my stomach. I reach around into the tub behind me and turn on the shower. Just the sound gives me something else to think about for a moment.

“It was kinda worth it, wasn’t it?” Matt mumbles. “I mean, things finally happened with Liz right? You walked her home, did you…” He trails off, as I shake my head.

“I didn’t want to try anything tonight. We made out a few times during the party, but I’m not that kind of guy. I told her I’d call tomorrow, and I will. If we ever get through this morning, that is,” I reply. I edge myself closer to the toilet again, just in case.

“Man, how did we get so trashed?” Matt massages his temples.

I knew exactly how: a complete game of Cheers, Governor, followed by a few rounds of Civil War and Keep Drinking and Everybody Explodes – a game of our own creation. Then we shook all that liquor up with an hour or two of dancing.

“I shouldn’t have had the jungle juice,” Matt doubles over. It looks like he’s about to start throwing up again, but he steadies himself.

“I think that’s pretty fucking sound advice for any situation,” I laugh. “You know Tommy makes it with like, half Everclear, right? You’re lucky you aren’t in the E.R. right now.” A smile flickers across Matt’s face. His eyes are still shut tightly.

“I think I, we sh- ” he trails off, his head lolling to the side. I’m briefly concerned, until I hear Matt start to snore. He’s out cold.

My arms slip to my sides, and my head rests against the plexiglass shower door. I shiver, but my head hurts and I worry if I stand up to get warmer clothes, I’ll start heaving again. I decide to rest for a while right here.

As my stomach finally starts to settle down, I start reliving the highlights of the party in my head; dressing up, dancing to old music, drinking games with my closest friends. And of course there was Liz in her blue dress. The way she kept leaning in during our conversations, her face getting dangerously close to mine.

These thoughts make the current misery seem trivial. More than that, they make it seem fair, or justifiable. If every night out could be this fun, I would take the accompanying hangover with no complaints. If that’s the price paid for living in the moment, so be it.

A.H.W.

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Angry Food Shopping

I practically break down the sliding automatic doors with my shopping cart – they’re too slow, and I’m hungry. I fly past the display at the store entrance, and look at some of the items for sale. Cookies, cereal boxes, random crap – probably all marked up to shit. I glance over at a box of knock-off lucky charms on the edge of the shelf. $6.75? For that?

Pulling the cart hard to the right, I head over to the produce section. I grab two bags of buy-one-get-one-free spinach leaves, and head over to the fruit. I rifle through the boxes of neatly stacked strawberries.

What am I working with here? Squished, gross, crushed, moldy. The fuck are they playing at? Do they expect me to just blindly through all this in my basket like a fucking sheep? Fuck this, I’m getting clementines.

Next stop, meat section. Bacon? Boom. In the cart. Chicken? Done. Ground beef? Of course. I make three violent slash marks through the items on my list, almost breaking my pencil.

I drop a half gallon of milk and a bottle of orange juice in the cart too. I cut left into the coffee aisle and push a whole shit ton of k-cups into my basket. Just in case.

On my way back around to the front of the store I stop in the baked good section to test my willpower. I never buy any of the delicious cookies, donuts, or cakes they have on display, no matter how good they smell. I like to walk past all the temptation and prove to myself that I won’t cave.

You are strong, not some weak shopper who just shovels everything they see into their cart. You cannot tempt me, baked goods aisle. There isn’t – wait, French toast muffins? That can’t be a thing. Well, it’s a breakfast food, right? No harm in trying.

Before I have time to rethink, I begrudgingly put them on top of my cart.

Despite my transgression in the pastry aisle, I’m making excellent time. Five minutes to get home, ten to pre-heat the oven, I could have some delicious fucking chicken-bacon quesadillas in my stomach in like, half an hour tops. The only thing that could stop me now is  – FUCK. A slow lady at the checkout line. And there’s only one lane open. Do they think only two people in the whole fucking city could ever possibly want to get groceries at the same time? IDIOTS.

“No,” The woman in front of me tells the cashier, “I need you to ring up these with my credit card. Then pay for the rest in like, a different order, with cash.” Defiantly, the customer snaps one of the conveyor-belt dividers right in the middle of her own assortment of food. She turns to me and glares, daring me to start taking any of my own items out of the cart.

I feel a burst of adrenaline, and wonder how hard I would have to push the cart to knock her out of the way. Realizing I’m still probably very amped up from my run, I think better of it. After what felt like an hour it was finally my turn.

“Here’s my rewards card, my credit card. Plastic bags are fine. Not debit, no I don’t need my receipt.” I power my way through the last human interaction between me, and dinner.

On my walk back to the parking lot, the endorphin rush starts to fade. When I look down into my car to load up the trunk, I notice I may have purchased a bit more than I intended.

I didn’t remember getting two extra packages of bacon, instant chicken tenders, a two pound bag of sour patch kids, a carton of yogurt covered raisins, brownie mix, and a few crunch bars for good measure. Huh. So much for impulse control.

Never shop hungry.

A.H.W.