Johnny America


Will You Mar­ry Me, Pukeface?


Kris­ten was cu­ri­ous about Robert’s par­ents, es­pe­cial­ly since the lit­tle he
had told her of them was fas­ci­nat­ing, but as they had sev­er­al years earlier
suc­cumbed to a bad case of air­plane crash it was a del­i­cate sub­ject. In his
room one evening, she searched for a way to get him to talk about them.

“Do you re­mem­ber how we met?” she opened.

“Yeah, it was a sto­ry for the ages. I had just rup­tured my­self, and you
were laugh­ing and look­ing down your nose at me.”

“True, it was­n’t ro­man­tic, but my par­ents’ first meet­ing was. They met
at a pool. Mom walked out of the change room in her bathing suit, and my dad
spot­ted her. He tried to show off on the div­ing board but end­ed up slip­ping and
bounc­ing off his bum be­fore flop­ping in­to the wa­ter. Mom laughed and went over
to … You’re not lis­ten­ing to me.”

“Sure I am: your par­ents met at the university.”

“What did I say af­ter that?”

“Uh, your dad… umm spot­ted your mom… on a cor­ner, and they went to a
cheap mo­tel room.”

“All right, if you find my fam­i­ly his­to­ry so bor­ing tell me how your
par­ents met.” He closed his eyes, laid his head on his shoul­der and
pre­tend­ed to snore. She gave up for the time be­ing and sug­gest­ed they play a
game of Triv­ial Pursuit.

He de­cid­ed not to, but she broke out the game, set it on the desk and handed
him the die. “Roll,” she in­struct­ed. He sighed and rolled. She read
the first ques­tion: “What are the four let­ters above Christ’s head on the

“O‑o-p‑s?” Robert quipped.

Kris­ten snick­ered and said, “Not quite: it’s I‑N-R‑I.”

She rolled the die and went to geography.

“Uh, it’s a wordy ques­tion but the gist is, ‘What coun­try has the city
of Con­dom?’” Robert said.

“You’re kid­ding, right?” she asked. He shook his head. “I
have no idea. Where is it?”

“On the Penin­su­la of Phal­li­cia,” Robert jested.

“And where is that?” asked Kris­ten with a grin.

“Due north of Sackville,” he an­swered. She sim­pered. “It’s in

Robert rolled. Kris­ten said, “Uh oh. What four-let­ter verb does the
bible use to in­di­cate sex­u­al intercourse?”

“I don’t sup­pose it’s fu…” Robert start­ed to say be­fore Kristen
in­ter­ject­ed, “Robert! Be­have. You know I hate that word. The an­swer is

“Hey, nowa­days it means you can’t have in­ter­course,” Robert
point­ed out.

“I mean k‑n-o‑w, brat,” she clarified.

“Oh. Kris­ten, do you want to get to know me bet­ter?” Robert
begged. “Let’s go to your room and know.”

Kris­ten re­spond­ed, “No.”

“I’m con­fused,” he ad­mit­ted. “Did you say no or know? Does
know mean yes or no?”

“Robert Owens,” Kris­ten chid­ed, “you are absolutely

“You take that back or I’ll get Mr. O’­Toole to bop you in the
head,” he replied.

“Who’s Mr. O’Toole?” Kris­ten asked.

“My in­vis­i­ble lep­rechaun,” he re­spond­ed to Kristen’s amuse­ment. She
rolled the die. Robert read, “What is by far the largest or­gan in the
hu­man body?”

“Let me see that,” she said as she grabbed the card. “Oh. I
thought you were just be­ing per­vert­ed again.”

“I’m not a pervert.”

“You, sir, have one-track mind. You can on­ly think with your

“That’s not true,” Robert coun­tered. “I al­so come and go with

“Mr. Owens, you are un­speak­ably in­de­cent. It’s your most endearing

“I don’t wan­na play this any more.”

“Well, what do you wan­na do?”

“I want to know you.”

“I’ll tell you what: tell me how your fa­ther pro­posed, and you may get
halfway to know­ing me.”

“Deal. Mom loved to tell that sto­ry. It’s fun­ny. Mom was con­tent­ed on
her own; she had her ca­reer, and men were pigs. Dad was hap­py too; he had a
good ca­reer, and women were plen­ti­ful. Then they met and every­thing changed. So,
two peo­ple who were per­fect­ly sat­is­fied in their in­de­pen­dence were now
com­plete­ly de­pen­dent on some­one else for their hap­pi­ness; it’s sad

“Don’t be so male.”

“Any­way, he pro­posed in an air­plane. You know he was a pilot,


“He rent­ed an ex­pen­sive plane, and took her up to show off but went too
far show­ing off. There were a few too many ac­ro­bat­ic ma­neu­vers for her
un­ac­cus­tomed stom­ach. Just as he was get­ting set to ask the ques­tion, she turned
white and puffed out her cheeks. What would come first — the ques­tion or the
vom­it? If the lat­ter, she could well imag­ine it putting a damper on his
en­thu­si­asm and she might miss her best shot at him. But if the ques­tion came
first, how would it look to an­swer the most pro­found ex­pres­sion of a man’s love
with a puke? Many men would con­sid­er that the de­fin­i­tive re­jec­tion. As the
purg­ing be­gan she grabbed a bag next to the seat. When she put her face in it
and spewed forth she saw a small jew­el­ry box in it, which held?”

“The en­gage­ment ring.”

“Mom was so em­bar­rassed and up­set that she start­ed bawl­ing. Dad was
an­gry with him­self for his overzeal­ous­ness; he knew it was his fault and
apol­o­gized. He thought the mo­ment suf­fi­cient­ly un­ro­man­tic to pro­ceed with the
ques­tion, so he flew back to the air­port, his plans shat­tered. But mom would
not let it end like that. Just be­fore she got out of the plane she took his
hand and looked deep in­to his eyes and willed him to pop the ques­tion. He asked
with a hope­ful smile, ‘Will you mar­ry me, puke face?’ ”

“He did not! That would be terrible.”

“I don’t know the ex­act words he used, but she said yes and went to
kiss him but re­called her barf breath and turned aside at the last minute. He
turned her head back and kissed her on the lips. I’m guess­ing he didn’t slip
her the tongue.”

“I nev­er thought throw­ing up could be so romantic.”

Filed under Fiction on April 19th, 2010

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