The Mystery of the Vomitous Bartender

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 | 3 Comment(s)

A few months ago I emailed my wife in the middle of the day.  I don't like to do that.  She's at work in an elementary school, and the last thing she needs on top of teaching her perpetual motion machines how to read is an email from her husband complaining about his day.

But on the particular morning in question, I began my morning routine as usual.  I drank a cup of coffee out of my Halloween mug, sat on the couch and responded to correspondences, and then took the dogs for a walk.  Upon returning from the walk, serious waves of nausea began thumping from my diaphragm, pulsing upwards.  Unclicking the dogs' harnesses, I harkened into the bathroom just in time to get my face over the toilet in time.  There really is nothing like watching your morning coffee go both ways.  I took my seat in the corner and continued heaving until every last drop of breakfast had been expelled.

And then, nothing. I felt totally fine once again.  No headache, no fever, just momentary explosive vomiting.  Ten minutes later I was out the door for work; no serious harm done.  It was seriously weird though.  I felt it was enough of a calamity that it warranted a spousal heads up.  I mean, if something happened to me throughout the day, having knowledge of my morning episode may be critical in my future care.  See, I worry sometimes.  And sometimes, sometimes, I worry all the time.  Well, most of the time I do.

Nothing ever did happen later in the day, so this whole scenario passed into my past like a bad memory of last night's drunken buffoonery.

Until about a month later when the same exact sequence occurred.  The coffee, the emailing, the dog walk, and the explosive but short-lived full-body retching.  Once again, about ten minutes after the incident, I felt fine and went on my way to work.  However, now I no longer believed this all to be a coincidence and I began to think there was a potential murder mystery unfolding.  We don't have a butler, but someone seemed hellbent on adding "throw up breakfast" to my morning routine.

Last week, when this horrific version of morning events happened for the third time, I started to Sherlock the situation.  If I had a blackboard at home, you would have seen multiple boxes with lines drawn to connect related events.  Real A Beautiful Mind shit going on.  It wasn't the dogs.  I mean, sure, the walk could be shaking up an already volatile concoction, but the dogs certainly weren't the source of the problem.  Perhaps, most obviously, I should blame the coffee.  I mean, it is the most 'active' ingredient in this whole equation, with its coming and its going.  But I drink that coffee most mornings; at least three days a week.  Why would it be a problem random mornings?  Just don't make no sense.

So I continued brainstorming the days' peripherals: Distressing emails? Corrosive Grape Nuts? My Halloween mug?  MY HALLOWEEN MUG!!! I used that mug on all of the mornings in question.

That has to be it.

I got that mug for my birthday (on Halloween) when I was about 15-years-old, so it has been in heavy and constant rotation for almost two decades.  It is one of my top three favorite mugs.  Or at least it was.  As far as I can deduce, the clear coat which separates the mug's glaze from the human mouth must have worn down to nothing, thus exposing the drinker to any toxins present in the composition of the clay (pewter?) or glaze.  Of course, having a piping hot liquid like coffee poured into the mug could only aid in the toxins' diffusion throughout my drink.  After putting those yummy corrosives into my belly, the walk with the dogs seemed to be the perfect combination of exercise, bouncing around, and digestion time to turn my body into a 2-liter bottle of Coke post-Mento infusion.  And, just as in the Coke-fountain, once the toxins were forcefully expunged, the chemical reactions ceased.
"Vomit, vomit was the case that they gave me..."

Now I know why that mug never looked me in the eyes.  Case closed.


  1. Hi Matti! Having made pottery in my life, I can tell you that it is more likely the glaze that is making you sick more so than the ceramic. If the glaze is cracked, chipped or wore down, you are probably ingesting pieces of the glaze, thus making you sick. Another option is the paint - if the glaze has exposed the paint that could be your culprit. Retire the pumpkin mug and get yourself a motivational mug, like this one:

  2. Hey Ryan. I too think the glaze is the culprit. I think it was dishwasher safe, but that train has now sailed. I'm going to smash it fantastically . . . somehow.