How Vomit Changed my Outlook on Life by Mel Rosenberg - מל רוזנברג -
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How Vomit Changed my Outlook on Life

After fruitful careers as a scientist and inventor I've gone back to what I love most - writing children's books Read More
  • Joined Oct 2013
  • Published Books 1550

Thomas J. Grasso was convicted of murdering two people. Before his execution, he was asked what he would like for his last meal. According to the death row legend, he answered “SpaghettiOs, room temperature”.

That is the one thing that Thomas and I have in common.

Spaghettios are also the last thing on earth I would ever want to eat. 





ספגטיוס. פסטה מקופסת שימורים, נמכרת בארה"ב וקנדה

Over fifty years ago, back in Ottawa, we used to have SpaghettiOs for dinner quite often. Until one of my siblings (I’m not naming names here) threw up during dinner. I remember it vividly. SpaghettiOs all the way down the hall, from the kitchen to the bathroom. On the carpet, stuck to the walls and ceiling. Everywhere. 


Of course, as vivid as those images still are in my head, what I remember most clearly is the smell of the SpaghettiO vomit. I feel nausea overcoming me just writing these words, a kind of PSTD (post spaghettiOs trauma disorder).



I studied bad odors most of my professional life, but have never been able to figure out why vomit is so vile. After all, vomit is just stomach contents. Every time we eat, no matter how yummy our meal, that is what happens to the food when it gets to the stomach.

Perhaps it is a ‘pack’ mechanism, to warn one another about toxic food we have just eaten. Together. Millions of years ago. Go know.



How Vomit Changed my Outlook on Life by Mel Rosenberg - מל רוזנברג -

I have smelled many vile chemicals during my career, but butyric (butanoic) acid takes the cake. It is so reminiscent of puke that it makes you want to upchuck immediately. Whenever I feel sorry for myself being a bad breath expert, I feel better just thinking about the miserable scientists and pathologists who study vomit. But I digress. 



What I really wanted to tell you was how vomit changed the way I look at life. It happened back in 1993. We were on the way from Boston to a conference in Newport, RI, after a ten hour plane trip. We were on a chartered bus which was supposed to take us directly from the airport to the meeting. 


The bus was very nice (at least initially) as we set out. I collapsed in a rear seat, took off my shoes, closed my eyes. Another scientist friend, Dr. Ed Bayer, flaked out right across from me, removed his blazer and dozed off.  


Suddenly we were awakened by a roar. A woman, overtaken with an urgent need to puke her guts out came running down the aisle towards the bathroom at the back. She didn’t make it though.

As she approached us, she heaved all over Eddie and me. On our clothes. All over his blazer. Inside my shoes. All over. Sticky, stinky puke, and worst of all, somebody else’s. We felt like we were in the “Exorcist”. In a sense, we were. 


“Help!” I yelled out to my wife who was a few rows ahead. She is generally an excellent wife, but not on this occasion. She held her nose and moved to the very front of the bus. “Help me” I yelled to my graduate student whose trip I had funded. She moved forward to sit with my wife.

I was alone, at the back of the bus. With Eddie.  Two pariahs. Covered from head to toe in puke. 



I went across to sit with Eddie. We were in a state of shock. The bus was not going to stop, and we were almost two hours from Rhode Island.


And then it happened.


We spontaneously began to laugh. Not just regular laughter, a little chuckle or giggle. No, I mean major, big time laughter. I’m talking hilarious laughter.

We laughed like that for two whole hours, looking at each other, looking at ourselves, looking at our ridiculous predicament. Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, we just laughed. And laughed. And that taught something about life. 


Several years ago, I wrote a story about Gloomeris,  a laughing hyena with no sense of humor.

In retrospect, I think that the inspiration came from this account.



On the internet, there are so many recipes for how to get rid of puke. But I think that Eddie and I found the best cure of all:

“When life throws up all over you, don’t make lemonade. Don’t sprinkle yourself with hydrogen peroxide (toxic) and baking soda. Just laugh, laugh, laugh…”


Eddie has never stopped laughing since. And neither have I.  


אד באייר. לא מפסיק לצחוק

Thank you for reading our book!

If you like it, you might also want to read:

My Very First Act of Plagiarism


Read more about me and see ALL my books on Ourboox (I have many)


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And finally, you can always write me at 

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