• Kate Neilson

The time that I threw up in the pub in front of the bartender that I was trying to tune: an apology

To preface this story, these facts are to be known: I NEVER give out my number to strangers in a bar because I have crippling social anxiety towards doing anything that requires me to "put myself out there". Secondly, I NEVER vomit in public, in fact, it's uncommon for me to vomit at all. If I do, I’ll usually do it in the privacy of my own bathroom/backyard, because I've poisoned my insides to excess the night before.

Artwork by Nikki Farmer

Sometimes I wish that my life wasn’t just a series of events that were occurring purely for ‘the story’. Alas, I am forever getting myself into situations that leave me recounting excruciating tales to my friends who will return a deeply sympathetic look and say “at least you’ll get a good story out of this one.”

For fuck sake, honestly, I’m done being my own source of content.

It started a few weeks ago when I wandered into a bar that I didn’t particularly feel like being at. I was following some friends around and had planned on bailing early, that is until I saw a very cute bartender from the corner of my eye and I became much more interested in sticking around. The rest of this part of the story is very un-interesting - I drank some wines, attempted to make flirty eyes with aforementioned cute bartender and eventually worked up enough courage to declare to my table of friends that I was “going to give him my number.” Unfortunately for me, it had taken me around two hours (approx. 6 wines) to work up the courage to do this, by which time he’d already clocked off for the evening.

“Fuck it,” my friend said, “Just leave your number behind the bar anyway!” She grabbed the paper from me, strolled up to another bartender and asked him to “paste it in the diary.” I quickly scuttled out of the pub, feeling a little embarrassed and never really gave the situation a second thought. He wasn’t going to contact me and even if they did pass my number on, he’d probably have no idea who I was.

You can imagine my surprise when a week later I get a message telling me to “come say hi” this weekend because he was working again. For the purpose of this story I’m going to call him Barry, mainly to respect his privacy but also because I don’t consider Barry to be a particularly attractive name and I’m trying to disassociate myself from memory of the evening so I can eventually walk back into a bar again at some point in my life.

I don't like to subscribe to the view that certain people are "too hot" for other people because I’m a true believer that a person’s ‘attractiveness’ is measured by their passions, values and ability to poach eggs, but in this instance I will happily say that I was in a little over my head. He looked like a more sexually experienced version of Harry Potter (circa Deathly Hallows Part 2), with a better face and less jaw intensity and I must admit that I'm more of a Philosopher's Stone kind of Harry. I'm still a fucking wizard, but I haven't quite figured out how to harness my powers yet and bad shit keeps happening to me.

Again, the next part of this story isn’t very interesting. I spent a week or so working up the courage to go back to the pub, wondering if he knew who I was or if maybe he thought I was someone else. My housemate eventually said to me, “Just go! Honestly, what’s the worst thing that could happen?”

Soon I will send her a link to this story and say: “This...this is the worst thing that could have happened.”

It was a Friday night, I had some friends that were meeting me for a drink and I suggested that we go to Barry’s bar – I was upfront about my ulterior motives in this situation. As I was getting ready I made the conscious decision not to drink too much because the last thing that I wanted to do was make a fool of myself (HA) and I had a habit of doing just that. I had a pre-wine at home, just to settle my nerves and off I went.

We arrived, he was there, he seemed to know who I was, things were looking to be on track. I had a couple of drinks, again being very careful not to exceed the limits that I had placed upon myself because I was going to try and engage in some flirty banter later that evening and a sloppy mind makes for sloppy words.

I was feeling lightly buzzed on the reds but still confident in my ability to speak in subtle suggestive tones whilst remaining both classy and mysterious - the ultimate goal.

I should now mention that while I wasn’t drinking too much, I still had quite a few glasses of wine, just enough to fool myself into believing that I could actually pull this off. In my initial stages of nervousness earlier in the evening I had forgotten to eat anything for dinner, which is weird for me. I never forget to eat. I was just trying to make a good impression and food was the last thing on my mind.

I imagine that you know where this is leading. Just as I was about to announce to my friends that I was finally ready to approach the bar, a spout of red vomit spilled from my mouth with great force. I’m not sure if you’ve ever vomited whilst sober before, but it’s an extremely disconcerting experience. My friends leapt from the table in horror, their hands clasped firmly to their faces. We stared at each other for what felt like minutes. What the fuck had I just done, and why?

It was like when you were in primary school and one of the kids farted. Everyone was immediately lining the walls, leaving the poor farty kid to sit alone in the middle of the classroom while everyone mocked them and stared on in horror. That was me. My friends did not mock however, I think they could feel the full extent of my excruciating pain in their very own hearts. Their eyes remained both shocked and sympathetic at the same time.

A million things were running through my mind: does everyone think that I’m drunk? Why the fuck did that just happen? Please god tell me that someone has some baby wipes on them! But the most harrowing thought shooting through my brain was DID BARRY JUST SEE ME THROW UP IN HIS PLACE OF WORK?

My friend – who I had actually only met for the first time that evening – rushed me into the bathroom and helped me to fix myself up. “Did anyone see that?” I asked in a state of shock, staring at myself point blank in the mirror. “Honestly, I have no idea. I was too busy looking at you. It came out of you like you were a broken pipe.”

There was no coming back from this. Even if he didn’t see me, it’s not like we could have stayed and moved tables because then I would've probably had to watch him literally cleaning up my vomit. So I convinced my new friend to pretend that she was the one who’d thrown up. I put my arm around her as we walked out of the bathroom and got the fuck out of there. I sent him a vague message later that night, telling him that something had happened with my friend. Then I proceeded to assume the foetal position for the following week.

I felt like I had just taken six MDMA caps. My heart was thumping wildly against my fragile chest for the rest of the evening and my eyes stayed wide open for days. I’m only just starting to recover from the horror of it all and the final stage of acceptance is to write about it and own up to what I did: I nervous vomited in front of hot Harry Potter. I am Vomitmort or Voldevom. Take your pick.

Now it’s time for me to publicly apologise to the entire staff at this bar (for vomming and bailing) and to the particular bartender that I was trying to tune (for telling you that it was my friend who had thrown up when in actual fact, it was me), because really, what do I have to lose in this scenario? I have already lost my stomach lining and my dignity so why not continue on with the excruciating public shaming?

Please accept my heartfelt apology. I feel like a dick, I really do. I’m really not that bad. I’m actually kind of okay. I hope your final impression of me isn’t as the girl that threw up in front of you, but instead as the girl that was brave enough to own up to it on the internet.

Artwork designed by Nikki Farmer. Check her out @nikkifarmi.

Kate Neilson is a list maker and a booty shaker. She likes tea and toast in bed and meeting new dogs. She is the creator of Twenty Something Humans and can be lurked @katiepotatierose.

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