At 3:00am this Saturday I woke with sweat ringing my neck and a sharp violent pain in my abdomen. I was sleeping on my best friend’s couch and her six-month-old twin girls were sleeping fitfully in a nearby room. Just before going to sleep that night, my friend reminded me that her house was haunted by a child ghost. She said, however, that I shouldn’t worry because ghosts were common household pests like mice or roaches.
Ghost crap freaks me out, but let me tell you when I woke in the dark with that pain in my stomach all I could think about was getting to the bathroom. From there followed an unpleasant shuttle run between the couch and bathroom that lasted about an hour. I was being squeezed and contorted in good exorcist fashion. My body was emptying itself of some bad bug and it didn’t much care which exit was used.
That night I earned my stripes. I had been working on a review of a local Boston restaurant. Always the scapegoat, I feel inclined to blame a beautiful plate of garlicky mussels for my unfortunate state. Despite the pain I felt like a champ, like a hockey player who had lost his first tooth or a sailor with his first tattoo. I was a food writer with her first on-the-job case of food poisoning. That’s right people, I’m in the big leagues. Put my right hand on the French Laundry cookbook and swear me in.