David was vomiting into my cold, bare hands in the back seat of a New York City taxicab. Not more than ten seconds after he had begun losing his dinner did the taxi driver freak out, pull over and stop the cab.
Jumping out of the vehicle, the driver began screaming at me, “I told you! I told you! Fifty dollars – you promised he wasn’t going to get sick! Fifty dollars NOW…” The driver continued his demands, swinging open David’s car door and in my verbal quarrel with him, I noticed that David was now laying face down on the curb. My turn to freak out.
I actually hadn’t promised him anything – a drunken guy had. It appeared that I was the only rational human being left in this awkward triangle. I hastily dug a twenty-dollar-bill out of my purse and threw it into the front seat of the taxi as the driver angrily pulled out his cell. Twenty dollars was well over what the fare said we owed and frankly, it was all I had on me. They were leather seats, I thought to myself – easy to clean.
“I’m calling the cops!” The driver threatened. Lucky for us, he had pulled over right next to the subway so somehow – to this day, I am not certain how – I picked David up off the curb, pleading for him to follow me into the subway. We had to catch the train or we were getting arrested that night. Just getting down the two flights of stairs into the subway was a feat in and of itself. David was hanging on to the railing and I was supporting his right side which in turn, had both of us almost plunging face first in to concrete a couple of times.
It was David’s company holiday party that night and prior to attending, him and I enjoyed a lovely, romantic Italian dinner in Park Slope, making certain to remain frugal as our cross-country move to Los Angeles was swiftly approaching. Upon arriving at his place of employment for the holiday festivities, David and I socialized with one another and his coworkers. Aside from a couple of attendees that I could care less for, the night was off to a good start.
After a couple of glasses of wine for myself and a couple of cocktails for David, I found myself sitting next to one of David’s charismatic coworkers who I always assumed to be very, very gay. I knew him well enough to have a lively conversation as we had all spent an entire weekend together in the Hamptons, not to mention the numerous times I had dined at their place of employment.
Shortly after our interaction came to a halt, David came and sat down next to me where he immediately accused me of “flirting” with this man. My mouth dropped open in horror at his aggression and I said, “David, he’s gay! We were not flirting – we were simply talking.” It was too late, however. David had made up his mind that his faithful wife was shamelessly philandering with his co-worker who, according to David, “had a way with the ladies.” Before I could attempt to defend myself any further, he got up and walked away, leaving me alone for the next hour or so at his company party.
I was hurt by his accusatory reaction and the fact that he thought, for one second, that I would do such a careless thing. I, honest to God, thought this man to prefer the penis. This was followed by anger, an anger that almost motivated me to get up, walk out the door, hail a cab and go the hell home. Oh, how I wish I had done just that!
As the night progressed and I sat alone, watching early twenty-something’s play beer pong and completely sobering up from the fight that had ensued, I noticed David at the corner of the bar with several coworkers where he was taking shot after shot after shot. Mind you, he was about a month sober at this time – hadn’t had a lick of booze – until that night.
At one point, I found myself in the ladies’ room, wiping tears from my face and feeling like a complete outcast as I was certain that our altercation had not gone unnoticed by a few. Here I was, David’s wife, all dressed up in my new suede, heeled boots, houndstooth mini skirt and tights, and feeling utterly pathetic. I can’t say that was a foreign feeling, unfortunately, and it certainly wasn’t the first time I had been wrongfully accused of something.
It wasn’t until David began participating in beer pong that he was noticeably trashed. At one point, he came and sat down next to me, seemingly in a depressed state and definitely, incoherent. I politely asked one of his male coworkers to assist me in carrying him to a cab so that we could make our way back to Brooklyn. This kind gentleman bid us a safe ride home as I thanked him for his help.
We made it the short drive from the Flatiron District to Soho before David’s body rejected everything that he had been ingesting in the last few hours. In my quick-thinking attempt to prevent it from getting on the cab seats, I placed my hands underneath David’s mouth, since the driver had specifically asked if he was going to get sick. I, in turn, asked David, “Are you going to throw up?” I don’t know why I thought it safe to trust someone as inebriated as him when he shook his head “no” but I think it was more of a gamble. I thought we could, at best, make it home before he lost his shit.
By the time we dangerously made it down the steep stairs into the subway, David whipped out his wallet, failing to recall where he had placed his Metro pass. As he illegally hopped the turnstile, I safely placed his wallet in my purse for fear he might lose it.
I stood there, covered in my husband’s puke, silently praying that the train would come before the cops arrived. That’s when the resentment started to rear its ugly head. How dare he do this to me? I should have left his ass at the restaurant after he humiliated me. He would be someone else’s responsibility right now. He was my husband, though, and never before had I seen him so completely helpless. I knew that at that moment he was my responsibility. For better or for worse, right?
A nice young man standing on the platform, eating a slice of pizza offered me the paper bag he was using. I felt bad for the guy’s appetite after witnessing David’s projectile. I handed the paper bag to David as he continued the vomiting and I profusely thanked this kid for his kindness. My foot began to nervously tap as I continued to pray the train would come before the cops. Finally, the familiar roar of the wind through the tunnel was sweet, sweet music to my ears. I supported David around my shoulder, making certain he stepped over the gap between the platform and the train and carefully got him seated.
The paper bag didn’t last long and I’ll spare you the disgusting details of that short train ride to Union Square. We still had a transfer to make and I knew it was going to entail going up a flight of stairs and down a couple of more. I contemplated calling David’s older brother because I simply wasn’t sure if I had the physical strength to endure, but I knew this would mean leaving David unattended, as I would have to go above ground for cell service.
Once again, somehow, we made it to the train platform, though not without a couple of terrifying stair-plunging close calls. Leading David to a trashcan where he could throw up was petrifying in and of itself as his severe loss of balance almost caused us both to go plummeting over onto the train tracks a couple of times. I could feel the judgmental and concerned faces of passersby burning into my back. By the time the Q train arrived to take us on a twenty-minute ride into Brooklyn, it was about four ‘o’ clock in the morning and I wanted to burst into tears from the mental and physical exhaustion. We were in the homestretch, however, and I knew I had to remain strong.
As we sat, I gently rubbed David’s back as his elbows rested on his puke-covered slacks, his head hung low. I whispered to him, “Almost home, love. We’re almost there…” Then he vomited, again – right there on the floor of the train. I apologized to the older man sitting across from us and he looked at me and said, “Don’t worry about it. We’ve all been there,” and then he reached into his shirt pocket, pulled out a tissue and handed it to me. I graciously nodded my head in embarrassment, thanking him for his undeserved compassion. I carefully wiped David’s face with the tissue, continuing to try and comfort him through the sickness.
When I heard the announcement that we had arrived at the Prospect Park stop, I was beyond grateful. To my benefit, the nice older man was also exiting at this stop and proceeded to aid in carrying David up the last three flights of stairs. The unexpected generosity of New Yorkers that night helped to ease some of the resentment boiling below the surface of my genuine concern for David’s wellbeing. Thank God our apartment building was one of the fortunate few in the city with an operating elevator, I thought to myself as we crossed Lincoln Road in the bitter, winter cold.
Still supporting David’s dead weight, I managed to unlock the door to our fifth floor apartment where I stripped him of his puke stained clothing and ruined leather shoes. I did so by holding him against the wall with one hand and utilizing my other hand to untie, unzip and instruct, “Lift your foot…other foot…” and so forth. Clumsily walking him to the bathroom, I drew the bathwater and got him into the tub where I was certain he would be safe. I went to undress myself, noticing the disgusting stains upon my new shoes and the dried vomit upon my embroidered, vintage coat. Again, the resentment bid hello. That would need dry-cleaned, I heavily sighed, rolling my tired eyes.
Making my way back to the bathroom, David was seemingly gaining some motor control back as he was standing up in the tub with a stupid grin upon his face. I asked him to please sit as I hopped in with him and proceeded to bathe the both of us. The heavy despair I was feeling took precedence over any humility I may have been experiencing – I just wanted to go to bed.
That night, I did not sleep a single wink. I lay so close to David, wedging myself into his back, so that I could keep him propped up on his side. Years ago, a dear friend of my parent’s died at a very young age due to heavy drunkenness – he threw up in his sleep and choked on his own vomit. That story has always stuck with me, therefore, I am militant when it comes to the ones I love and bedtime post a heavy night of drinking. I placed a silver bowl next to his bedside for emergencies.
David awoke a few hours later without much recollection. When it was clear that he had sobered up and was going to be fine, I rolled over on my side, my back to him. I wanted nothing more than to close my weary eyes and sleep for a very long time. I wanted to wake up with the memory that the last few hours of my life were all just a goddamned nightmare. David apologized over and over again, for everything, including the false accusations made in his partial sobriety. I laid there in silence. I couldn’t even look at him, let alone say anything. I couldn’t even cry – I was numb.
While I eventually relayed the night’s horrid events back to him and I am certain he was sorry, I don’t think he ever fully grasped the permanent damage that was caused or the numerous compromising positions in which he placed us. After all, he couldn’t recall half of it! If the night were ever later brought up in casual conversation with David, I would frequently and nervously laugh it off because the truth is it was one of the worst nights of my life. I rarely ever speak about it – Hell, I rarely even allow myself to think about it, in all honesty, but I knew I had to write about it. While I simply forgave David, I could never possibly forget the hell that I went through that cold night and early morning of January 2013.