Yes, you read the title correctly. If my life experiences were source material for a television series, this post would be the episode where a high school girl threatens to kill herself because of me and one little piece of garlic. My life has occasionally been a rebel without a clue tale in which I mistakenly start a chain of events and watch things spiral out of control. I suppose things like this happen to everyone though.
Like any high school, mine had many traditions each more meaningless than the last. This particular incident involves the annual boxing matches hosted as a fund-raiser by the wrestling team. This year the matches were held the night before the Sadie Hawkins dance. I don’t know what a girl-ask-guy dance and boxing have to do with each other but they were paired together for some reason.
My friend, Mike McCullough, and I were at my house before the matches. Even though the cover charge was only $2, Mike didn’t have any cash. I told him that rather than driving to his house and asking his parents for some cash, I would just pay for him. Not wanting to make it too easy though, I told him that I would only do it if he ate a raw clove of garlic. I specifically said that he had to chew it 10 times before swallowing. I have no idea why I thought he should do this. Looking back, it was just one of those split second decisions that one can never really explain. I saw garlic on the counter top and Mike needed money. I wish I could better explain the intricate workings of a teenage brain.
He did it. The look on his face as he chewed the garlic was intense enough for me feel the burn in the back of my nostrils. We laughed about it and headed to the boxing matches. I didn’t think too much of it for the rest of the night. Other than the occasional waft of garlic stench, Mike seemed to be fine. At one point I purchased him a soda. He drank it so fast you would have thought it his last. Then he produced a foreshadowing belch that was not in the least bit pleasant for anyone involved. Other than that, the boxing matches were what you would have expected. We watched our classmates attempt to pound each other into a pulp. There were a few grudge matches, but mostly it was just friends having a good time. There was even a female bout. How fun!
When the event ended a few of us headed to McDonald’s. It was the only restaurant still open by that time. I would like to say that I felt bad for torturing Mike and planned on buying something to eat, but I don’t remember thinking that at all. Not long after we got there, Mike asked if I would drive him home because he wasn’t feeling well. At that point I began to feel a bit bad about what I had done so I agreed.
I won’t describe what happened next in great detail because this is not the proper forum for such things. However, it is integral to the story that you understand the entire chain of events. Just as we reached the car, Mike threw up all down the side of my car and all over the parking lot. The smell hit me like a sledge hammer and I looked away in time to see the horrified faces of the people in the adjacent car. Don’t ask me how, but he didn’t get any on himself so he just got in the car and we left. The windows were kept down the entire time.
I felt so bad. I spent the entire drive apologizing to him but he assured me that he felt much better after getting it out of his system. In fact, he was in pretty high spirits when I dropped him off at his house. I wished him luck with his date the next night and headed home.
I didn’t see or talk to Mike until we were back at school on Monday. As it turned out, that rejuvenated feeling he had after giving my car an acid bath didn’t last long. He was sick the entire weekend. He hadn’t been able to contact the girl who had asked him to the dance so she found out that he was sick when she arrived to fetch him for their date. I can only imagine how awkward that conversation was.
I didn’t know her at all and Mike barely knew her. When he tried to find her at school he learned that she hadn’t come that day. Her friends told him that she had spiraled into a depression after being stood up in such a way. She had seen Mike having a good time at the boxing matches and didn’t believe that he was sick. She even told her friends that she wanted to kill herself!* A bit drastic, I think, especially since she had only met him a handful of times.
There you have it! Sorry if that is a tad anticlimactic, but that is how I, with a single clove of garlic, started a chain of events that could have ended with a girl’s death. Luckily it didn’t end that badly, but I have always felt bad either way. Really though, I am any more to blame than anyone else in the supply chain? The farmer who produced the garlic, the store who supplied it, or even my mother who bought it and placed it on the counter top? Probably yes, but this was just a classic example of the butterfly effect. Where a butterfly flaps its wings in Asia and causes a hurricane in Florida. Only this butterfly had garlic breath.
*I am in no way making light of teen suicide. She obviously did not kill herself or I would not be writing this. She came back to school and Mike did his best to explain, but their relationship never went any further.