My wife and I took the kids on a whale watch last week. It was the first whale watch ever for me and the kids.
We set sail out of Boston harbor and spent 90 minutes at sea before reaching the area off the tip of Cape Cod where we would find the whales.
In that time, the ocean managed to alleviate about half of the passengers of their previous meal, including my son. He took one bite of a melting chocolate bar and immediately vomited all over himself.
Thankfully he's three years-old and can get away with being in a diaper and nothing else. Other people on board were not so lucky.
Charlie also had good reason to be sick. Seas were three to five feet, and the chop was even worse. The bartender told me that she had been working on the boat for ten years and had never felt sick until that day.
So it was bad. My wife felt sick for most of the trip, and about half of the passengers were ill to one degree or another. There was a great deal of groaning throughout the ship, and the cleanup crews were working double time.
But rough seas equates to excellent whale watching. In addition to watching the whales flap their fins and tails for more than an hour, we saw several humpbacks breach many times from about 100 yards away. They leapt from the water, doing barrel rolls as they crashed back down beneath the waves.
We were told by several crew members that it was the best whale watching all season.
I actually had tears in my eyes as I watched the whales. Charlie was in my arms, pointing and laughing, watching these incredible animals on display in their natural environment. It was amazing.
As we neared the end of our hour with the whales, I took Charlie and moved to the bow, where a whale was leaping into the air. A minute later, Charlie discovered another meal somewhere in his gut and threw up all over me, and then, just to make the moment complete, threw up into my mouth as well.
A crew member watched it happen and was so disgusted that she had to turn away.
Here's the thing:
I didn't care all that much. I handed Charlie off to my nearly sick wife for a minor cleanup (since most of the mess was on me) and retired to the restroom, where I removed all of my clothing, washed it in the sink, and put it back on. The clothes were wet and they stunk, but unlike Charlie, I would've looked strange if I had been only wearing my underwear.
But it was fine. I was with my son, and we saw whales, and a little vomit (or a hell of a lot of vomit) wasn't going to stop me.
One of the ladies sitting near the restrooms asked me how I could still be smiling after the horror show that she witnessed.
I think a few things combined to allow me to retain my smile:
- Perspective: Vomit is disgusting, but it's only vomit.
- My love for Charlie: I will never forget the look on his face when he saw that first whale.
- Patience: I can put up with a lot.
- Recognition: I had just witnessed something incredible.
I didn't tell the lady all that. I just told her that I was tough as nails. And maybe I was.
But I think it was simply my refusal to let a minor, albeit disgusting, bump in the road spoil my day.