Other People's Puke

I was roused delicately from sleep this morning by the graceful stylings of my beautiful little white tortie point, Olivia, as she expelled a hairball in the middle of my bedroom. This was not tremendously surprising to me as she’s had a hairball challenge since her kitten days, and I’ve been neglectful about grooming her lately. Olivia sat on top of the space heater in my room, cleaning her paws and tail. She always seems to be embarrassed and, frankly, somewhat disgusted when these upsets occur.

I’ve been well-trained by my pets, so I rolled out of bed, stumbled to the bathroom for cleaning supplies, and got right to work removing all traces of her mishap from the carpet while hubby snored away. After scrubbing my hands thoroughly, I climbed back into bed and tried desperately to grasp what few remnants of sleep were left to me before the clock radio was due to begin screeching.

Not to be outdone, never-ever to be outdone, my fat orange tom, General, proceeded to loudly and dramatically vomit up a huge chunk of grass and gleaming yellow bile.

One of the culprits.

One of the culprits.

The stain is never coming out of my carpet.

General took himself for a walk yesterday after climbing through a tiny window in my kitchen that was ajar so I wouldn’t suffocate while cleaning my filthy oven. He’s prone to sneak out when certain people in my household neglect to close the door behind themselves. (Names withheld to protect the absolutely *not* innocent). He has the necessary outdoor shots, and I always manage to coax him back inside before any smaller animals are killed or larger animals eat him. He wandered back inside yesterday after enjoying a bit of fresh spring air and apparently grazing on my backyard like Elsie, the happy Californian dairy cow.

I’m no stranger to puke. There was a time that I really, truly believed a college education and graduate degree would prevent my induction into housewifery. Or at least inoculate me against other people’s body functions.

But, no.

My initiation into the world of other people’s puke began in college with friends who’d enjoyed themselves rather a bit too much. Beyond the obligatory holding back of hair and wiping up of clothing, I got off pretty easily.

After marriage came our first child, a sweet, bouncing baby lab-golden-samoyed mix. Our first weekend together, the puppy pooed and peed and puked. Then we realized she had worms. We fixed the poo situation, but the puking continued. For her entire life, our dog had the appetite and mischief of a labrador puppy, but the stomach of … I don’t know, insert your favorite forever-vomiting creature here.

And then came our real child, our human child, our wonderfully loud, busy, curious boy. The volume of expelled stomach contents at our house reached epic proportions. A mop and bucket sprouted from my arm. It seemed as though every time I mopped the kitchen, either the baby or the dog would promptly vomit all over it. They seemed to have a system between them. The vomiting always happened within an hour of the floor drying. Mostly, they took turns. Sometimes both of them would hurl.

I became paranoid, only mopping when the baby was napping, so he wouldn’t know that the kitchen floor was good to go. He still knew. I think the dog tipped him off.

I began putting the dog in the basement or leaving her in our backyard while the baby slept, so she wouldn’t know on which days I mopped. Of course she knew. She was a dog. She could smell the minty floor soap. I began buying unscented soap. She still knew. They continued vomiting. I continued mopping.

My mantra became the old Bissell slogan, “Life’s messy. Clean it up.”

Sadly, my dear, sweet dog died several Februaries ago. My baby grew, as they do. My now middle schooler tracks mud, leaves, and pine needles into my kitchen, but thankfully, no vomit. He is able to wield a mop and bucket on his own. The years of puke on my freshly mopped kitchen floor are behind me. My mantra has changed. These days I say, “You made a mess. Clean it up.” And for the most part, my son complies.

But not the cats. Never-ever the cats.