My recent illness—a bug that the Pentagon may want to investigate for its germ-warfare potential—led me to ponder the paucity of terms for one of the ways the disease “presented,” as the medicos say. In addition to throwing up until I was actually sore from retching, I had diarrhea.
There, I said it. Well-brought up Southern ladies are not supposed to mention such unpleasantness. I always feel that I’ve done something vaguely shameful—”What will the neighbors say”?”—when all I did was contract a beastly bacterium.
I can’t help but wonder if others share this reluctance to admit that the “stomach virus” reached somewhat lower. I think they must, because there are so few ways to admit it. While there are endless ways to let others know that what goes down must come up—barf, hurl, lose one’s lunch, toss one’s cookies, puke, spit up, upchuck and many more—there are relatively few euphemisms for an episode of Montezuma’s revenge.
In addition to the Mexican tourist’s nemesis, my computer’s thesaurus offers “the runs” and “the trots,” as well as “the squirts,” which is altogether too graphic for me. Perhaps I’ll adopt the archaic “the flux.” Everyone will just be mystified.
Maybe not. I’ll just stick with the term I learned many, many years ago from—where else?— Reader’s Digest. My parents were faithful subscribers, and, as a child, I read every joke and anecdote in every issue. One involved a letter home from a child at summer camp. He reported that, in addition, to swimming and hiking, he recently had suffered from the “dire rear.” Genius!
N.B. Scientifically minded readers may note that I used "bacterium" and "virus" interchangeably in the above. I was too…busy…to determine which wee beastie had caused my predicament. Let's let that one go, shall we?