Smith: The oozy, warm stench of revenge

Barry Smith

It’s been said that revenge is a dish best served cold. The revenge plot I’m about to describe should have been icy cold, as it was intricate, calculated, and took over three decades before it finally came to fruition. However, when this particular revenge was finally served up, it turned out to be surprisingly warm.

Let me take you back, back to the previous century, to a weekend in my childhood when I have the stomach flu and am on the couch on a Saturday morning watching cartoons and trying desperately to not throw up. Like most children, I thought that throwing up was just about the worst thing that could happen, and whenever it presented itself, I’d avoid it with all my being.

I just need to be still, I think. That’s all. Just be still. Very, very still. That’s how to quell this rising storm. But it isn’t working, because my head is starting to swirl faster and faster, swirlier and swirlier, faster and faster and OHMYGOD! It’s here! I jump off the couch, race down to the hall to the only bathroom and fling open the closed door. The horrific purging has begun, so I’m simultaneously throwing open the door and my mouth, and my Cheerios have started their unceremonious exit. I close my eyes and point my face in the general direction of the toilet and hope for the best.

Let me stop here for a moment so I can back up and relate this incident from the standpoint of my brother, Bryan, who’s a mere 5 years old at the time. It’s a pleasant Saturday morning, he’s eating some Cheerios, watching some Scooby Doo, being a cute little kid, and life is pretty darn good. At some point nature calls, so he makes an unannounced trip to the bathroom to answer that call. Sitting there on the toilet, his little legs barely touching the floor, he thinks the gentle, innocent thoughts of a 5-year-old in the early 1970s. He’s mentally planning out the rest of his day — after cartoons he’ll go play with his toy trucks in the back yard, then maybe catch some frogs, then … OHMYGOD! Suddenly his older brother is busting the door open with absolutely no warning, and something disgusting is cascading from his mouth. And just like that, Bryan goes from “carefree childhood” to “completely covered in brother’s vomit” in 2.6 seconds.

As the first wave settles and I begin to survey what’s just happened, Bryan looks up at me from his little perch and he does what anybody would do in his situation. He bursts into tears. But behind those tears I can see something. A little seed is being planted, a little glimmer that says, “It may take many, many years, and I may have to go to great lengths, but someday you will know my pain.”

I didn’t think much of it at the time because really … what kind of follow-through does a 5-year-old have?

Well, now it’s 35 years later and Bryan and his wife Amy have just created twins — twins! — making me an official uncle for the first time. Earlier this week, Christina and I popped over to Carbondale to pay little 6-week-old Milo and Mena a visit. On previous visits they’ve always seemed too small and fragile and newly minted for me to comfortably hold, but now they’re sturdy enough for guest feedings. I grab Mena and get myself settled on the couch to feed her a bottle. Afterwards I move her into burp position, holding her chest to my shoulder and patting her on the back firmly, a rhythmic, hypnotic patting that allows my mind to drift for a moment.

I think of childhood, and innocence, and how much I look forward to having these sweet little ones in my life, and being called “Uncle Barry,” and watching them grow up and discover the world and the part I hope to play in their … OHMYGOD! In one swift move Mena has grabbed the front of my shirt, pulled it back, and deposited the contents of her shockingly spacious stomach right onto my chest. I’m stunned and horrified as this baby-bucket full of warm, thick liquid begins to ooze down towards my belly button.

“Hey,” I stammer to Bryan. “She spit … it’s all … she just … ewwww … gimmie a rag!!”

Bryan hands me a towel, but he does so ever-so-slowly. Far slower than is called for in this situation.

And he’s smiling.

It’s the smile of sweet, sweet revenge … a mere 35 years in the making.

Barry Smith’s column appears Mondays.