I don’t know if it was the swaying motion of the train or the stagnant air in our car. It might have been when the AC went out and we paused for a couple of minutes waiting on train traffic ahead. It might just have been my hangover once again catching up to me, my movement not there to keep it at bay. Or it could have been my empty stomach and the Powerade I’d had at the end of the race sitting vitriolic in my stomach.
Or maybe it was a combination of it all.
But whatever the case, those train doors could not have opened faster. I had an uncontrollable sweat going and dizzying nausea. My face went even paler so that your mother even noticed something was wrong. Those train doors opened and I bolted out and up to the street, knowing I was about to vomit.
There I was, standing on the side of the street vomiting into a plastic bag. And to top things off your mom was standing just a few feet away. Talk about embarrassment! Talk about a guy you don’t want your son dating! What a mess I must have looked.
If it were my mom, I probably could have gotten by saying I had come down with some 24-hour bug. My mom doesn’t drink ever. She doesn’t know the signs of a bad hangover. But your mom seemed smarter than mine, or at least hipper. She knew why I was throwing up. But she didn’t say anything. She didn’t seem dreadfully put off by it or embarrassed. She was a good mother, offering me water and asking how I felt, worrying more than judging, though maybe she held back her condemnation for your ears only. (If she did, you never mentioned it to me, so I’m going to pretend she didn’t.) Still, I was mortified.
I was throwing up the dredges of electrolyte-laced Powerade. (It looked corrosive, the green color of the Powerade mixing with the gastric juices in my stomach to create this disgusting acid green liquid that burned all the way up my throat.) Even when I’d finished emptying all of my stomach’s contents, my body kept going, dry heaving sporadically so that I had to stop a couple of times each block to hover over a street trash can in case my body managed to find some residual iota of slime.
We sat down to brunch and I made it all of ten minutes. I knew by then that there was no way I was going to last. I needed to sleep. Eating was only going to make me vomit again.
I made my apologies (I really was sorry), and headed out. We were sitting at a six-person table; you were sitting between your mom and me. So I made myself feel less guilty by thinking that I wouldn’t have been able to talk to her much if I had stayed. I was glad she’d wanted to get lunch the day before, so I at least had gotten to know her then. And made a good first impression, even if my second one was dreadful.
The subway ride home was one of the most excruciating I’ve had in the City. I stopped and grabbed a bag of chips, just to try to keep something in my stomach. The minute I got out of the subway at my stop, I threw them up. (I wasn’t lying when I said I wouldn’t have made it through brunch.) I got home, crawled into bed and passed the fuck out.
That morning and afternoon are still so vivid though. I remember sitting in the bathroom at the restaurant, feeling miserable as I dry-heaved, and then feeling doubly miserable for how guilty I felt. I guess the pain of my afternoon was my penance for partying too hard, for being angry at you over something so trivial.
You have to understand that I went into meeting your mother feeling very much unwelcome. You didn’t want to tell her about me, so I felt she didn’t want to know me.
I don’t even know how bothered you were by my poor performance. I don’t think I ever told you why I got so drunk that night. I know that I fucked up that weekend, and I hope you forgive me.
You see, I’ve learned that you can’t get between boyfriends and their mothers.
My second boyfriend just about hated his mother, constantly complaining that she criticized him and knit-picked about every little thing. I’ve never heard a more exasperated voice than when he talked to her on the phone. What did I think of her? I thought she was perfectly lovely. He detested the one time his mother wanted to play family board games while I had a blast. But in front of him, I learned to disapprove of his mother, too. That’s all he wanted, someone to take his side.
You, on the other hand, love your mother. And I tried to do the same.
It’s a shame I’ll never see her again. But I’m glad I got to meet her the one time. I learned something from knowing her. Maybe even she learned something from getting to know me. Or maybe you learned that she can handle knowing about your boyfriends.
By the way, did you tell your mom when you broke up with me? Was she a counsel in your decision making?