A Kid Threw Up At The Comic Book Show
I didn’t mean to take a picture of a kid throwing up.
It was near lunchtime at the comic book convention, and food vendors had just opened up their booths. Groups of costumed characters (I guess they’re called cosplayers now) were taking pictures with the rest of us normal people.
Everybody was getting along. Marvel and DC cosplayers were taking selfies together. The weirdest mix was a group of imperial stormtroopers posing with the McDonalds Hamburglar and Grimace (the goofy purple monster). The comic book convention is the only place where different genres of cosplay can get along. If they’d met in Times Square, there would have been a brawl.
Anyway, a bunch of bystanders were taking pictures of the Star Wars/McDonalds team-up in front of a starship corridor backdrop. Since I’m slightly taller than average, I stood behind everybody else and took a wide shot that caught part of the food court behind the backdrop.
As the characters were posing, I heard a faint “UUUrrrgh” grunt and a prolonged splaaaaaaatt!
When you’re a parent, you recognize the “UUUrrrgh” and splaaaaaatt sounds, especially on a concrete floor. Even with all the convention clatter, I heard the vomit sound, but the cosplayers didn’t notice, probably because their backs were turned.
My daughters hadn’t noticed yet either, so I steered them away from the food court because I didn’t want them to react to the vomit. My youngest daughter has a weak stomach, and I didn’t want her setting off a domino effect in such a crowded space.
“Let’s come back later,” I said, shooing them to a caricature artist on the other side of the convention floor.
“I’m hungry,” my youngest said, beelining toward the food vendors.
“You won’t be if you keep walking that way,” I muttered and turned her around.
My oldest looked back at the food court and laughed. “Some boy just puked.”
I hesitated and said, “Yeah, I think I got a picture of it too.”
For some morbid reason, all three of us wanted to know if I had caught it on my cell phone, so we stopped in a secluded corner where I could check my phone. I even put my back up against the wall so nobody could sneak up from behind and conk me on the head. I tapped the camera button on my phone and and inspected the Star Wars/McDonalds photo.
“There he is,” I said, pointing to the right edge of the picture.
“Oooooh,” my oldest daughter said in disgust, but she snatched my phone and expanded the section with puking kid.
“Uggggh,” my youngest daughter said. She made faces, but she kept staring and watching as my oldest daughter manipulated the picture size.
“When I was a kid, you couldn’t expand the picture,” I proclaimed. “If a kid threw up in the background of a picture, it stayed in the background of the picture.”
The puking kid was lucky it was my phone. If my daughters had taken the picture on their phones, they would have gone public with it. In fact, they begged me to text the picture to them. They were going to post it on Instagram. They were going to make a meme with it. They wanted to make this kid go viral.
I couldn’t let that happen to the poor boy. He’d probably been dreaming of a fun day at the comic convention, and he ended up throwing up in public. Having his vomit go viral might have made that the worst day ever for him. Plus, I don’t like meme humor. I think it’s down there with puns and famous movie quotes. And even if I did like memes, I wouldn’t want to create one with some poor kid throwing up in public.
As a parent, it’s my responsibility to tell my kids when they have a bad idea. There’s a part of me that would like to share a photo of a kid puking, but the adult part of me needed to take control and not do it. Bad ideas are great for fiction but not for real life.
So naturally, I put the picture on my blog. I have standards, though. I’ve cropped the picture so that you can’t see the kid losing his lunch. In the original, he’s off to the side in the food court in the distance, and you might miss it if you don’t look closely. But with an expanded picture, you can pretty much tell which of the food vendors he’d just visited.
When you’re in public, you can expect to end up in somebody else’s pictures. It’s unavoidable. I try to never scratch my nose or adjust my pants in public because you never know who’s making memes I wouldn’t want to adjust my pants and discover later that I’ve become a meme. That’s one my goals in life, meme avoidance. I’ve always tried to avoid conflict. I might as well avoid becoming a meme too.
When we got home, my wife asked us, “What’d you get?”
We’d gotten caricatures, a celebrity autograph, superhero t-shirts, posters, an action pillow, and assorted comic book related trinkets. What was the first thing my youngest daughter said to my wife?
“Dad took a picture of a boy throwing up.”
When I was a kid, I got my mouth washed out with soap for saying the word crap.
Looking back, it ticks me off because now I know….