Thoughout my childhood I was plagued with a nervous stomach. Anything exciting or out of the ordinary in life would put butterflies in my stomach. I can look back at some of the best days of my childhood and remember how those great feelings were also met with feeling of nausea.
I used to think I was cursed and that I would only be able to handle the mundane and routine. Going to a friend's house to spend the night or going camping during summer vacation always meant a thrilling time and the possibility of vomiting. My nervous stomach carried with me into my teenage years.
At 16 I was going on a 3-day camping trip with a church youth group. The week before the trip I had met a girl named Jennifer. She said she felt bad that she couldn't go on the camping trip because her boyfriend's birthday fell on that very weekend. Jennifer was an attractive girl but talked too much for my liking. Beyond talking too much in general she talked entirely too much to me.
The afternoon we gathered for the camping trip I was surprised to see Jennifer show up. I didn't ask why the sudden change in schedule because I figured she'd eventually tell me.
It was going to be a tight fit as far as car seating was concerned. By today's standards this was going to be unsafe but in the mid 1980's this was just something you dealt with. Looking back I have to make sure in my mind that it all happened the way I remember because it seems so unlikely. I had picked out the backseat section of my friend's car and my buddies Jeff and Brian sat back there with me. In the passenger bucket seat sat my friend Tom and his girlfriend Amy. This left enough room for the driver only but one more person wanted in the car. There was room in the cargo section in the back but she didn't want to sit there. Jennifer would be the extra person in our car. I offered to sit in the cargo area and be a bit cramped but instead she offered to sit on my lap. So there we were, seven of us in a compact car.
The back window by me wasn't the kind that rolled down. Instead of rolling down it had a lever that allowed it to open outward a couple of inches to provide ventilation. This was important because not only were we cramped but it was also kind of warm. Jennifer put her arm around my neck and for the most part we sat comfortably.
Midway through our trip Jennifer whispers a revelation. "I came on this trip because I wanted to be with you." I couldn't believe my ears. This may seem weird as everyone reading this has probably already figured out that she liked me but it was not so obvious to me. I pretty much have never been able to tell when a girl likes me. Even as she is sitting on my lap with her arm around me telling me that she changed her plans with her boyfriend because she wanted to be with me...I'm still wondering if she might like me. Basically I'm an idiot.
I began wondering what was going on. She likes me? No, she didn't say that. She said she wanted to be with me. Does that mean she likes me or I'm a likeable person and she wants to be with me like the guys sitting next to me like being with me...but they aren't sitting on my lap. Did she want to sit on my lap or is it because there's no room. Wait, did they hear her say that? Did I hear her say that? She smells so good. She did say that didn't she?
All this thinking got my stomach swirling. The lack of ventilation and the inability to take deep breaths made me worry the curse had emerged. I closed my eyes and tried to calm myself but she began playing with my hair. The nervous excitement actually had my feet and fingers tingling. Sadly though my stomach was tingling too and it's all I could do to focus on staying calm.
We were several miles from reaching our destination and it was already dark outside as the packed car wheeled along in our caravan. I had to find a way to calm down otherwise this will be a disaster. Jennifer didn't know what she was dealing with.
Then Jennifer did something very unexpected...at least it was unexpected to me. She took her right hand and brought it to my face. She placed her thumb upright over my lips and leans in and kissed her thumb against my mouth. It wasn't a kiss, but it was almost a kiss. What was it then? Did she do this because she likes me? (Again, I'm dumb) It was at this moment the butterflies began to take flight.
My buddy Tom then said, "Did you just kiss him?" This got the attention of everyone in the car and she leaned forward and was denying it and saying that she kissed her thumb while everyone was teasing her. The car erupted into a loud discussion.
While she was leaning forward I pressed my face against the window to get some air from the two or three inches it was open. At this point I coughed. The cough began set in motion a string of convulsions I could not stop. In a crowded car with a pretty girl sitting on my lap I began vomiting out the window. After about three good blasts lasting about 20 seconds I was done. I felt so much better but I knew I had probably just ruined the trip for everyone.
I brought my head back forward and Jennifer asked me, "Tell them, did I really kiss you?" I just smiled and everyone in the car laughed and kept talking. I couldn't believe it. With seven people in a compact vehicle, the radio going and people talking and teasing each other I had actually vomited out the back window without a single person noticing. I began chewing on a stick of juicy fruit and enjoyed the rest of the trip as my stomach had begun to settle down.
At this point I didn't care if she liked me, I was just thankful I didn't make things any worse.
So did she like me and how was the camping trip? That's for another post someday.