I am not saying that I am a better man than the president, but even in college I always managed to make it to the parking lot.
Or to the wastebasket. Or to the bathroom. Paying homage to the porcelain god, as we called barfing (and is there anybody as clever as a college student?), was considered the very least one could do.
By vomiting in public, George Bush has lived every person's worst nightmare.
Bush, who now is feeling fine, tried to make the best of throwing up and fainting at a banquet in Japan this week. He talked about the "inconvenience" he had caused the other guests ("Waiter, what is the president doing in my soup?") and joked about his "large cleaning bill."
But he was clearly trying to cover up his feelings of intense embarrassment.
Certain behavior that is semi-normal for the average person is shocking when the president engages in it. And when Americans saw the videotape of an unconscious, ashen-faced George Bush being lifted up off the floor, the same thought flashed across their minds: "If Dan Quayle becomes president, I'm going to be sick to my stomach and fall down, too."
An aside about Dan Quayle: Political experts are now saying that because a Washington Post series on Quayle indicates he secretly campaigned for the job of vice president that he must be a lot brighter than we thought. But only in Washington would naked ambition be confused with intelligence.
Now, back to vomiting: That Americans are obsessed with throwing up is evidenced by the large number of euphemisms we have for it. A few of the printables ones are: barfing, woofing, blowing lunch, tossing your cookies, puking, power booting, and talking to the toilet.
(I consider "the Technicolor yawn" as one of the unprintable ones.)
As any psychologist can tell you, euphemisms are a defense mechanism. By attaching a euphemism to an embarrassing act, we seek to minimize or exert our power over it.
Which is why everyone has a barfing story. I know a man, a groom-to-be, who was so worried about throwing up at the altar that when the time came he threw up at the altar.
And all the stunned guests could then clearly hear the father of the bride say: "I'm paying $300 to get a videotape of this?"
There is a woman I work with who provided a much more classic example: "I was in the fourth grade at Church Lane Elementary School in Randallstown and I felt sick when I woke up but it was the day before Thanksgiving and there was going to be a big party in class and so I went to school. But I can remember being in class and feeling sicker and sicker and finally throwing up at my desk. It was awful. But, no, nobody made fun of me. Everybody was very nice. I'm sure nobody remembers but me."
Why is this a classic story? Because unbeknown to this woman, all her friends still refer to her as "Little Miss Vomit Face" to this day!
We are told that stomach flu caused the president to throw up. To which I say: Yeah, right and Richard Nixon was not a crook.
Stomach flu fells the president of the United States? A man who always travels with a personal physician? A man who played tennis earlier in the day? A man of unusual stamina and vigor?
No, I do not think it was stomach flu.
I think it was intentional.
This is my theory: Not unlike our own country, there is a certain amount of prejudice toward foreigners in Japan. I read a magazine article last week that said many Japanese people openly claim that foreigners "smell like butter." (Though I wonder what they say foreigners smell like this week.)
Also, there is much less bodily contact between business associates, acquaintances, etc., in Japan than in Western cultures. People don't shake hands in Japan. They don't slap each other on the back in Japan.
OK, so the Japanese think foreigners smell funny and they don't like bodily contact with them.
So what does George Bush do? He comes to Japan and sprays vomit ona few of their top leaders.
Why do I think he did this on purpose?
Because Bush wants trade concessions from the Japanese, but he holds very few cards in his hand. How can he persuade the Japanese, who can buy Hondas and Toyotas and Nissans, to buy Chryslers and Fords and Chevrolets?
-! He can threaten to come back.