Stories About Barfing

So here’s the thing: My oldest son, Travis, who will be 6 next month, has this crazy fear of barfing.  He’s thrown up quite a few times in his life and has decided that he doesn’t like it.  Fair enough.  But honestly?  It’s more than just a “Throwing up makes me fill icky” kind of fear.  No, it’s deep-rooted and troublesome and it can make him a little nutty.

He, like his younger brother Jake, had some major acid-reflux action going on.  You could look at one of them the wrong way and up would come a volcano of barf.  If you look through some of Travis’ early baby pictures, it’s rare to find one where he isn’t wearing a bib.  I’m looking forward to the day when he’s older, looking through pictures and we have this conversation:

Ancient TKT (me): Here’s one where you were playing with your childhood drum.

Young TKT (Travis): Wow.  I’m wearing a bib in this one, too.  Was I always eating or something?

ATKT: Nope.  That was for the barf.  You barfed a lot.


Jake is now about 6 months out of being reflux-y, but still, if the little guy so much as coughs, Travis covers his ears and runs.  Doesn’t matter what he’s doing.  He could be at the dinner table eating his 5th meal (in a row) of mac n’ cheese.

Cough, cough.  Shoom. He’s gone.

I think it’s good that we have the child-proof locks on the cars, because I’m pretty sure Travis would toss himself into the road to avoid an eruption of vomit from his younger brother.  We gently remind him that he’s just coughing and that Jake isn’t going to puke.  Still, it doesn’t seem to matter.

The dude is AGAINST barfing.

I know this sounds bizarre, but I’ve decided I need to make Travis more, how do I say this, comfortable (?) with the idea that people puke.  It’s a way of life.  After a barfy accident, I tried to comfort a distraught Travis.

Me: Travis.  Seriously.  It’s not a big deal.  Jake just threw up a little bit.  He’s fine now, look at him.  He’s smiling and laughing.

Travis: I just hate it.

Me: Well, no one likes to throw up, but you gotta just get to a point where you think: Hey, it’s gonna happen.  Might as well not worry about it.

Travis: I don’t think I can.

Me: (thinking I’m being clever) You know, when you get older, you’ll think throwing up is kind of funny.

Travis: What?

Me: Seriously.  You know, some people who write movies put scenes where people throw up in them.  A lot of people laugh because it’s so gross and ridiculous.

Travis: (near hysterics with tears flowing from his eyes) I want to find the guy that wrote that and punch him in the face!!!

So, yeah.  That didn’t work.

But, I’ve decided to tell him stories about when I was younger and had throwing up accidents.  I figure eventually I’ve got to get through to him and he’ll relax a little about spewing.  Right?  Right?

Collected here are some of those stories.  Stories About Barfing.


I joined my mom on an errand run back when I was a sprightly 7 years old.  We went to the grocery store, to Zayre’s Shopper City and other assorted places.  As we were finishing up our trek through Columbia Heights and Fridley (which is where most of these places were located) she remembered that she needed to stop at a restaurant to pick up a gift certificate.  I don’t remember who is was for.  Give me a break, I was 7 stinking years old.  Regardless, I went into Leon’s with her and Mom waited in line to buy her certificate.  This, of course, was before the advent of gift CARDS.  As we were standing there, I remember looking into the supper club which was through a wide entry way and seeing tons of fancy people eating fancy foods.  For some reason, I just didn’t feel right and I told Mom I felt sick.  She said, “Oh, Tommy.  You’re fine.  We’ll just be a minute.”   I told her I was serious, and she said I should maybe wait outside and get some fresh air.

Thinking that would help, I did.

I stood outside and while the air did help a bit, I still felt like rotten garbage.  After a few minutes, my mom didn’t come out, so I decided I needed to tell her again that I was sick.  I walked in and my mom was at the front of the line, making her transaction.  When I walked in, I again saw all the people eating and, I suppose, if anyone at their table was looking, could see me.  I told Mom I was going to be sick and she said, “No, you’re not.”

Oh, yes I am (was).

I heaved and a fountain of puke came out of me.  It was like something out of a movie.  It matched the green, orange and yellow decor of the dump, but it was thick and liquid-y and splashed all over the fancy entry way carpet.  I have no idea if I set off a chain reaction in the restaurant proper, but there’s no doubt the people eating got a heckuva show.   My mom was mortified, I was feeling suddenly better and (I think?) we made a quick escape.  I do remember saying as we left: “I told you.”


It was one of those rare times when our family went to church.  It must’ve been a funeral or a holiday or something, but afterward we headed to a local restaurant called Chester’s.  This place was THE BOMB.  I was probably 9 years old, but don’t quote me on that (since I just did).  The thing I liked about ol’ Chester’s was that they had killer chocolate chip pancakes.  I ordered some along with some chocolate milk.  Chester’s also had a bakery section and after eating ALL THAT CHOCOLATE, we each got to pick out a donut to bring home and eat in the car.  I chose a chocolate donut with chocolate frosting.  I don’t think I need to tell you how the rest of this story went, but I’m going to anyway.  By the time we got home, I made a beeline for the bathroom, spraying brown sludge from my chocolate-y mouth.  The thing about me (when I was younger) and barfing?  I wasn’t neat about it.  Every surface of the bathroom at my parent’s house was covered in brown, barf-tastic bile.  The walls, the tub, the sink, and some in the toilet.

My mom was a little squeamish about cleaning it up and began to get the dry-heaves, so my poor dad was tasked with cleaning it up.  One whiff of the mess and he decided to break out an old cop trick they used at grisly murder/we-found-a-dead-body scenes: he took some Vicks Vap-o-Rub and squashed some around his nose.  He cleaned the bathroom without trouble, working up a good sweat.  The problem was, he worked up SUCH a sweat that when he was done and came out of the bathroom, the Vicks had melted, making it look like he had thick snot running out of both of his nostrils.  My mom saw this and came close to puking all over the hallway.  Ahhh…good times.

I’M 21!

I know I jumped ahead in time, but I didn’t want to recall EVERY time I coughed up some lung butter as a kid.  But I remember the incredibly magical night I turned 21.  Turning 21 in October meant that none of my friends from school were 21 yet.  So, I ended up hitting the town with my friend Dan who was a big dude with a solid fake ID (his brother’s).  We went to the now defunct place called Mississippi Live in Minneapolis, which was a bar that had a bunch of other themed bars inside it.  I’d never been there (obviously) so I thought this was the way to go!  I was excited and as we walked up to the entrance, a big, bald bouncer checked our IDs.

“I’m 21 today,” I said proudly.  I didn’t know how corny that likely sounded at the time, but I was pretty proud of this fact nugget.

He nodded and told us to have a good night.  We assured him that we would and together, Dan and I entered a land of liquor.

Cut to 5 hours later.

I’m what you might call ‘blotto.’  I’ve had 3 of everything and 2 of everything else.  I’m woozy on my feet and I don’t remember much of what had happened since showing the bald guy my ID.  Somehow, I do remember this:

As we were approaching the exit, the same bald guy was there, waving people off.  He saw us and called out to us: “Hey, have a good night.”

At that point, I got down on all fours and coated the tile floor with about 40 gallons of booze-y barf.  I think I grunted and made noise, too.  I probably sounded like a dying cow.  Felt like one, too.

Then, I got up on my feet, waved to the guy and said: “Hey, YOU have a good night, too!”

Yeah, I know.  Probably not my classiest moment, but it happened and there’s no taking it back.

(Oh, and for the record, I don’t tell this one to Travis.  Might wait until he’s 18 or, you know, 21.)

And finally, I told this one to both Travis & Jake because it involves their uncle Brad, my brother in law.


A few years before there was a Travis Kingsley Troupe in the world, Laura and I would rent a cabin with her family up north for a week.  It was pretty nice.  We’d sit around, drive around in a boat, drink a few fermented beverages and just kick back, Minnesota-style.  Her younger brother Brad was there, too and that boy DID IT UP.  For the whole week he drank beer like it was water and really…why not?  He was of age, he wasn’t driving anywhere and that’s just what happens sometimes.

Well, like all good things, the week at the cabin had to come to an end.  Brad woke up that last morning and informed everyone he wasn’t feeling so hot.  Of course, he was to ride back to the cities with us.  We had carpooled up there together and he left his car at my parent’s house, which was a central meeting point.  On the way home, he was groaning and telling us how awful he felt.  I remember this conversation happening:

BRAD: Ugh.  I don’t feel so good, Bro.

ME: Well, no kidding.  Did you even eat anything this morning?

BRAD: No, I felt too crappy to eat.

ME: You should probably eat something.

So, we stopped at a grocery store called Zup’s (best. beef jerky. ever.) and picked up some stuff to eat in the car.  Brad decided that some Kellogg’s Strawberry Cereal Bars sounded the most appealing.  I got some beef jerky because, seriously?  It’s the best ever.  We drove on with Laura and I in the front and Brad in the back so he could spread out and lay down to recover.  He tore open a couple of the bars and began to eat.  I figured we were going to be okay, because about ten minutes passed.

Then he burped.

It was one of those deep from the gut and caught-in-the-throat burps.


BRAD: Oh, man.  I think I’m going to be sick.

ME: You want me to pull over?

BRAD: Too late, Bro!

Brad quickly rolled down the window and stuck his head out.  He barfed and made a sound like there was a demon living in his stomach.  He grunted and groaned and another round came up, this one as loud and creepy as the first one.  Laura and I couldn’t help it.  We were laughing like there was no tomorrow.

BRAD: Quit laughing, you jerks.  I’m sick.

LAURA: You sound like a Komodo dragon!

BRAD: (heaving) Blararagaragargh….

We didn’t stop, we just kept going.  I remember looking in the rear-view mirror and seeing pink-tinged spray blasting outside of my (then) brand new Xterra.  Even though I knew my truck was getting coated, it was the funniest thing ever.  Which, I reminded Travis (having only told him about Brad barfing, not why he was barfing) means that puking isn’t that big of a deal.

You throw up.  You feel better.  End of story.

The funny thing?  I think these stories are sort of working.  Every once in a while, I hear Travis shout: “Too late, bro!” and both he and Jake make the puke demon sounds that Brad made that fine summer day.

Maybe there’s hope for the kid yet.