Clean-Up on Aisle Hachi

I haven’t been sick in public in a long time. And the last time, over two years ago, was bourbon related, so I claim innocence. The time before that, years earlier, I happened to be on a tiny airplane and my sister’s lap was on the receiving end, but that wasn’t my fault either. That time the culprit was my dad’s desire to test the placebo effect by giving me a medication known to make me ill, but telling me it was Tylenol. On the whole, however, I’ve got a strong stomach. I’m not prone to seasickness or morning sickness or sympathy-vomiting. That stomach of mine is a steel trap. Once things go in the top, they shall not return against the natural patterns of gravity.

Until a few days ago. We journeyed to the larger grocery store near our apartment so Dave could show me around before he leaves for his first road trip and I am left confused and illiterate to fend for myself. I felt compelled to go up and down every aisle, looking at things, touching things, trying to get my bearings somehow or another.

If I’m honest, it wasn’t working. Every aisle had me feeling more overwhelmed by packaging I can’t read. The kindly people giving samples were literally talking constantly, some form of advertising, and whatever they were saying was on repeat. In the aisles there were tiny televisions posted up next to products they were pitching, and the tiny TV’s were doing their best to out-do each other from across the way. The smell of tempura was everywhere.

The thing is, this shouldn’t have bothered me as much as it did. I’ve been abroad before, I’ve been clueless as to my surroundings on many occasions. But something about the combination of sights, sounds and smells mixed together with the fatigue of jet-lag coupled with the fatigue of motherhood came together in a perfect storm. Suddenly it became quite clear to me. I was gonna barf.

In the instant when your mouth starts sweating and you face gets tingly and you know you’re about to barf in a Japanese supermarket in front of your husband, child and countless strangers, a certain survival instinct comes in. While the rest of my body reeled on a stormy sea, a tiny piece of my brain turned on the bathroom radar. In Europe, I’ve had experiences where finding a public bathroom is like locating that ever annoying needle in a haystack. Where are those people peeing!? But the universe was on my side that day in the Japanese supermarket, and I sensed the stalls from a mile away.

I pushed the cart holding the baby towards Dave, mumbled something about an emergency, and moved as quick as I could without pushing women and children out of my way.

When I got to the promised land of the bathroom without launching, I’d thought I’d won the lottery. When I opened the first 5 stalls to find a toilet like this I knew I was in big trouble:

I am ALL ABOUT new and different cultural experiences. Including doing my business in a toilet I’ve never seen before. But when you are about to lose your oatmeal in a public venue, it’s not the moment for experimentation. In desperation, I opened the last stall door to find a toilet of the ilk I am used to, but BETTER because it had a button on its fancy technology panel that features white noise:

Probably meant more for sounds emanating from the lower half rather than the upper half, but it works without bias.

My recovery from this incident was swift. An hour later I was dominating half a loaf of cheese bread (for my HEALTH!) and sipping on tea. But once my composure (and my appetite) was restored, I had to ask myself, what gives? Are the days of adventure over with because I simply can’t handle information overload? Did having a baby turn me soft? Am I finally inheriting my mother’s legacy of the Super Sniffer?

Another piece of cheese bread and two more cups of tea didn’t lead me any closer to the answer. Now that jet-lag has mercifully loosened its grip on us, I’ve grown re-accustomed to having no idea what anyone is saying around me and I’ve practiced my deep breathing techniques, I’m hoping our return trip to the store doesn’t have the same ending. I’ll bring an empty stomach just in case.

EDIT: Not Pregnant. Just started sleeping somewhat normal amounts. Somewhere between 1-5 mornings a week I wake up feeling moderately rested. I’m not messing with that anytime soon.

9 thoughts on “Clean-Up on Aisle Hachi

  1. Ah the joys of handling unexpected situations in a foreign country! Luckily you were not alone with V, imagine doing all that with the baby and trolley?

    BTW, my mum is a Supper Sniffer too (love the term!) and I find myself showing similar tendencies more and more. Maybe it comes as a motherhood perk, who knows…

    Enjoy those fancy toilets (everyone I know who has visited Japan comes back with at least 10% of their photos taken of toilets :)) and hope there is no more weak stomach incidents for you.

  2. Oh Laner, I can totally relate to that feeling of being absolutely completely overwhelmed when you realize you are completely out of your element and having a moment of panic. Malcolm will tell you sometime, while laughing and rolling his eyes, the story of the first night we arrived in China when I was ready to just turn around and get right back on a plane to Canada because I was scared shitless. I can also relate to the sudden bout of puking (or other unseemly intestinal problems)–seems to be almost mandatory when you arrive overseas in a new place with new water, food, smells, etc. and it always seems to just overtake you all of the sudden at the absolute worst time. You’ll adjust–you always do–I have complete confidence in your ability to make your way in foreign lands toting baby V sans Dave. I love you and you are one tough, brave little Momma.

  3. Hahah this is a great story!! Thanks for sharing 🙂 I especially liked your edit section to clarify that you are not pregnant haha!! it looks like you could put a newborn to sleep while sitting on one of those toilets with the sound machine attached to it.. they should put these on planes and airports for us mothas

  4. Oh, I have been there… and by ‘there’ I mean China, where the toilets are the same, minus the fancy technology panel. By the end of the third year, I actually preferred those little squatters! You’ll do great– embrace the experience, even in times like these 🙂

  5. hahaha that is great! I mean I feel bad that you puked but funny all the same!
    I remember those toilets in the ground, also not so fun when its your time of the month…….

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