An Embarrassingly True Story
I was 11 and it was my first New Year’s Eve party. Sort of. It would be at least two more years before I was allowed to attend a Real Party. The moment we stepped into Aunt Fran’s suburban shoebox I was exiled to the Kid Ghetto: “Go in the other room and play with your cousins, honey. Have fun!”
All of the cousins who were my age were MIA, and the older cousins were at Real Parties doing Inappropriate Things. So it came down to me, two 8 year old girls who were drinking imaginary tea from tiny pink cups, and four kids under 5, not one of which was interested in discussing anything remotely intellectually stimulating. On the other hand, “the other room” was full of challenging games: stacking rings, six-piece puzzles, happy telephone. Oh, and a spring-mounted rocking horse.
In short, “play with your cousins” meant “babysit.” But at least there was punch. The punch in the bowl on the low table was syrupy and disgusting. The stuff in the bowl on the tall table looked better. But the adults were busy talking, so I helped myself. It was citrusy and fizzy and not half-bad. I drifted back into The Other Room and ended up reading picture books to a couple of tow-haired toddlers between trips to refill my cup. Strangely, the more I drank the thirstier I got.
Then I climbed onto the rocking horse. It was absurdly small. Which made me laugh. In fact, everything made me laugh. The more I rode, the funnier everything got. I kept laughing, refilling my cup, and riding the rocking horse, laughing, refilling my cup, and riding the rocking horse…
At some point the room began to spin.
And then I threw up.
My parents were disappointed at having to leave so early. But when your kid is sick… “Do you think he has the flu?” Five minutes from Aunt Fran’s, we stopped at a gas station bathroom so I could throw-up again.
Eight gas station bathrooms later we finally made it home. Dad plopped me down onto my bed while Mom called the doctor. I was giggling between dry heaves. “Wait,” Dad said, “what punch bowl did you drink from?”
“The fizzy one.”
“Cancel the doctor!”
The next morning I felt like I’d swallowed the Gobi Desert. With a chaser of death.
Have a great time on New Year’s Eve. But put caution tape around the punch bowl.
And not just for the kids.