Going back to a restaurant that gave you food poisoning requires a unique combination of acceptance, faith, and insanity. Looking straight into the eyes of a tormentor and saying, “I forgive you.” isn’t something that happens often — and in most cases, it shouldn’t. But my tormentor was Chick-Fil-A, and that in itself makes this a singular occurrence.
I detailed my 24-hour stay in a Chick-Fil-A parking lot earlier. What I didn’t mention was the vomiting that occurred somewhere between the 18th and 21st hour.
There’s something unnerving about having to feign stability in front of your friends as you sit in a lawn chair with a thick blanket draped over you like fondant on a wedding cake. My stomach was in pain, my friends were laughing at some idiots one tent over. I was sweating and shivering, waiting for some sort of sign from my body that I’d be okay. I sat still was wondering whether the 12-piece chicken nugget dinner or the CFA sundae for dessert triggered this reaction. It was probably the sundae. We didn’t have a tent. It was cold. Why was I eating ice cream? Why do I eat so much? Why do I do anything at all?
My friend ran over to buy some Tums at the gas station across the street. This is technically illegal, and he should’ve been disqualified, but the CFA workers were already quite weary, and we’d made nice conversation with their security guard. Chewed one. Nothing. Waited 10 minutes. Chewed another. Nothing.
You know what happens when you’re on the brink. Your mouth starts taking in streams of saliva. Your stomach begins to contract and compress, and you’re basically having the worst time of your life. Naturally, I sprinted over to the restroom, trying to expel whatever was trying to escape. Nope. Dry heaves.
Are you kidding me?
I walk back every bit as pained and distraught I had before. Halfway back to my sitting area, I started gagging again, and ran back. This time, I was successful. I vomited. I didn’t feel any better, and my problems would persist for an entire week. Chick-Fil-A gave me gastroenteritis. For a week, I wasn’t able to eat anything substantial, nor did I have much of an appetite. That’s what happens when you’re made plainly aware that everything you eat will rush out of your body (from one orifice or another) within 15 minutes of consumption.
A week later, I stopped in for a Chick-Fil-A Chicken Breakfast Burrito (review forthcoming). It was good — which was a joyous event for me because I’d gone to CFA a few days earlier and could not stomach their chicken sandwich combo. Plus, later that day, I got an email from Rob Mahoney asking if I’d want to write for Hardwood Paroxysm. I said yes, and I still write for that blog!
Sometimes you just have to be patient. During the week I was scared that I’d never be able to eat copiously ever again. I was afraid I’d never enjoy Chick-Fil-A ever again. But I still can, and I still do. Sometimes a spurned lover can enter your life once more and not fuck it up. There are ways to love again.
The moral of the story is good things come to those who endure a week’s worth of diarrhea.