Sunday, May 23, 2010

Drunken Master [Warning: Graphic Scenes Depicted!]

[Originally posted at]

No one is ever completely ready to walk up to a middle aged Korean man and ask him to stop vomiting on himself. It's not something that you ever really prepare for. There are no scenes in movies or books where the protagonist has to summon his/her courage to walk up to another character, regardless of age or nationality, and say, "Sir, please stop throwing up on yourself. This is a public facility, and we don't allow that here." Frodo Baggins didn't have to do it. Neither did Holden Caulfield, the Count of Monte Cristo, Rambo, Anne Whatsherface who ate some Gables, or Mr. Miyagi.

But I did.

I find this extremely unfair. Literature, cinema and country music all teach us that at times, life just doesn't go the way you want it to. But nowhere in the entire annals of human history is the "please stop vomiting on yourself" scenario covered. I mean, I even know how to deal with getting rid of a Sasquatch who has endeared itself to my family (thanks, Harry and the Hendersons!) but nothing, not even college, prepares you for this.

I've mentioned Drunken Master before. He was the guy who'd stumble into the pool area obviously inebriated and couldn't come close to walking a straight line. Usually, he would get into the hot tub and moan as if he were either being tortured or sexually pleasured (it was hard to tell). He'd often lay in a chaise lounge swinging his head left and right somewhat violently, but I just figured that was a Korean thing. The Health Club had a large Korean community and I saw some odd behavior, but I figured it mostly to be cultural differences and so I let the head shaking go without much thought. But the day came when his behavior crossed all cultural lines and went straight to... well, I don't know where people find this acceptable.

One day, there he was in his chaise lounge, but instead of shaking his head, he was putting his fingers in his mouth. Odd, but again I just figured it was a culture thing. Still it was intriguing enough to warrant further observation.

Deeper into his mouth the fingers went. The further back into his throat he put them, the quicker my heart started to beat. There was a situation a-brewing and however it was going to turn out, I knew I didn't want to deal with it. It was going to be worse than that time I had to tell an old lady in the steam room that her boob had fallen out of her shirt, and that was bad enough.

I wanted to look away and pretend I didn't notice (it's an ancient and effective lifeguard trick for dealing with speedos that are too small to adequately cover genitalia) but the other patrons had begun to take notice of Drunken Master's antics and were shooting me glances of shock and horror. This was now officially my responsibility.

Things like this aren't covered in a lifeguard's job description but they should be.
"You will be required to maintain the safety of the patrons, as well as the cleanliness and sanitation of the pool and pool area. In addition, you will monitor the level of clothing on all patrons, keep them from drinking Holy Hot Tub Water, prohibit self-vomiting and indoor expulsions of phlegm onto the floor." But they leave that stuff out.

[Warning: Graphic scene imminent!]
I stood up to get a better view of Drunken Master's unusual conduct and as soon as I did, out came the vomit. It wasn't a lot of vomit, but certainly enough vomit. He directed it right onto his stomach. I guess he felt it looked better on the outside than the inside because he then began smearing the clear-ish sticky fluid all over himself with his hands. Being quite stunned, no one really made a move, least of all me. A patron finally got up to leave the pool area and suggested on his way out that I see if Drunken Master was okay. I was on the hook now so I began to walk over to him when he went back into his mouth for round 2. More vomit, more smearing. I asked him if he was okay and he nodded. I suggested he take a trip up to the shower to clean himself off and he pretended not to understand English. As he put his hand to his mouth again I shouted, "NO! Sir, please stop vomiting on yourself. It's not sanitary and we don't allow it here." He got the picture and though he stayed in his lounge chair for a few more minutes to stew in his own juices, he eventually left and I contemplated setting fire to the health club to avoid having to clean up after him.

All Mr. Miyagi ever did was give karate lessons.