Just look at this face:
Precious, right? So trusting, so innocent, yes?
Because that’s the face that over the course of a single week laid waste to four generations of family, a week that will heretofore live in infamy as Ortlieb Annual Family Reunion: VomitCon ’08.
There was no sign of anything amiss on our journey east. (Apart from the absurdity of a security Nazi snapping on latex gloves and copiously examining the lining of Nola’s shoes. Because, I suppose, even if she can’t actually walk, those nimble little fingers could certainly rig some pink suede booties with Semtex and a fuse. Which reminds me of my position on the Shoe Bomber: instead of life imprisonment, Richard Reid should have been sentenced to appear at a different US airport every day for the rest of his life; Reid would be posted at the security checkpoint exit, where travelers who moments before had struggled to get back into their once-innocent sneakers would be offered the opportunity to PERSONALLY KICK HIM IN THE ASS.)
(Also amiss, the security shoe-bins — now so ubiquitous and unavoidable, now lined with advertising. US carriers: with every improvement, making passengers long for the relative ease and comfort of the Donner Expedition.)
But Nola was fine when we alit in Charlotte, if a good deal sleep-deprived, and the drive to the coast bore no ill omen. The place was perfect: a massive beachfront duplex with broad porches and a shared pool, and 27 adults and kids immediately diving into swimsuits and mojitos. The Ortliebs are smart, funny, easy-going, and damn good-looking, and I was looking forward to a week of relaxation and ease.
And then came Day Two, when Nola uncapped a heretofore unimagined GEYSER OF VOMIT. Back then, we were all very sympathetic, patting her poor little back and assuring her it was just something she ate. Until the next morning, when I woke up at 5am, sipped a bit of water, felt instantaneously not right and made it to the bathroom just in time for a world-class yak.
From there on out it became a round of Hot Potato, if the “potato” was “spew” and no one was exempt and everyone’s a loser! Mike was next, followed by little Fiona, then Rob, a few from the Vignovich line, and then every single solitary Ortlieb right up to Grandpa GOOD GOD MY BABY HAD ATTEMPTED ORTLIEB GENOCIDE.
(Her mission now complete, Nola spent the rest of the week laughing, swimming, and greedily sampling from the buffet as the rest of us struggled to keep down Gatorade and Pedialyte.)
Otherwise, the reunion was the best ever. And Ortliebs, we’re really sorry. . . Next year, Mike and the girls and I promise to again bring something we can all share. Say, a board game, or jokes about Nola’s embarrassing incontinence problem.