Here’s the thing. I’ve been puzzled for years by the volume of men vomiting. No, not the number of men who’ve developed eating disorders and are subsequently rushing to the public restrooms at malls immediately following lunch–but the actual decibel measurable sound they expel when throwing up.
As a recovering anxious person, I am practiced in the art of vomit. I used to do so every day before school. I’d wake up and the nervous wave would hit. I would reluctantly choke down breakfast as I tried to convince my mother that I was actually sick enough to stay home from school.
It should be noted that my mother is not a masochist.
But she is also not a fan of whining or repetition or repetitious whining. So, I’d eat and she would send me to “walk the plank.” This meant pacing up and down the long narrow hallway between the kitchen and the bathroom until I vomited and could then be taken to school. I’m not really sure why I didn’t want to go to school. Maybe it was a fear of stretch pants and Chinese jump ropes. It was, after all, the 80s. Maybe I was just a weird kid. This frequent vomiting continued until my mother figured out that one could not simultaneously ride a bike and vomit. Well, one can, but it’s really hard when you are concentrating on breathing and pedaling to also concentrate on not spewing on yourself before you arrive on school grounds. More importantly, at least I wasn’t in the house begging her to save me from the evils of school.
But I digress.
My point is, as a practiced vomiter, I know that no extraneous sound is required to vomit. Sure it sucks, but making noise while you vomit actually exposes your vocal chords to burning bile that actually scorches the surface of those speaking implements and leaves you sounding like a chain-smoking prostitute. In my case, a chain-smoking child prostitute, which is just nasty on a number of levels better left unexplored.
But men yell. I was first aware of this several years ago on New Year’s Eve. My dear friend was turning 30, and we made the ill-advised decision to let my 22-year-old brother take us out drinking. So, my friend drinks, and drinks some more. Then he pees in a bush and drinks some more.
We stumble back to my brother’s apartment, where poor drunk friend proceeds to puke his guts out…so loudly we can hear him in the living room: “BLAAAAARRRGGHHH!!!!” heave, heave “GRAAAAAWWWWWGH!!” Horrible, yelling noises. I swear he is murdering another man in there. I ask him, “are you murdering another man in there?” And I hear “MMGLAAAAAWGH!” Standing next to the bathroom door, my ears are now ringing from the volume of the noise.
He comes out, looking terrible, hoarse from the effort of vomiting and yelling. And he is not alone.
Several weeks ago on Mad Men, Don Draper, over come by a panic attack, vomits into a sink, yelling as he does so. Rewatching Catch Me If You Can last night, I watched as Leonardo DiCaprio vomits into a janitorial closet while practically screaming. And I think any explanation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is totally unneeded here.
I asked my brother about this. Why the noise? Why the extra effort? His response?
“I groan the way people groan when they have really violent diarrhea. Going up or down it all sounds the same.”
Words of wisdom.