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The Florida sun was well situated in its midday position. With no clouds to be seen, it was hot. In another vacation home two doors down and across the street, something was stirring—a raucous bout of shouting that signaled a tortured situation.

“Sounds like a fight’s getting started,” I whispered, eyes wider than before.

“Do you think so?” Jen whispered in return, covering her mouth with concern. “Oh, I hope not.”

In a silent glide, I made my way to the other end of our swimming pool and lifted my eyes above the deck, just enough to peer through the lanai and see that the front door of the home was open.

“What are you doing?” Jen asked with fretful insistence.

“I’m just looking to see what’s going on,” I replied quietly.

“They’ll see you!”

“No, they won’t,” I said, sending a splash back to her.

I could see that the front door of the home was open and a woman was standing in the entryway. She was facing whoever it was meeting her in opposition and was doing so with a volume equal to his.

“You have to do it!” she insisted, arms crossed in defiance.

“But I didn’t even go!” came an angry shout. “And I warned you it would happen!”

“I don’t care!” she hollered. “I’m not going to do it! I can’t! I just can’t!”

The verbal jousting continued for a few minutes more before the man inside finally yielded. Stomping through the doorway and out to the SUV parked in the driveway, he made his way around the vehicle, opening each of its doors before finally taking a few steps back in a posture of self-defense.

At first I thought he was preparing for some wildlife to lunge out—like a wasp. Or maybe a puma. But his pause was only momentary, and in an instant, he tucked his hand up into his shirt and covered his mouth and nose. Circling the car, he reached into each of the passenger areas and tossed its contents into the front yard. It wasn’t long before he stumbled backward again as if to reassume his defensive posture, except this time he hunched over, and with his hands planted on his knees for support, he gave thick coughs that teetered near the edge of choking.

It was then that I knew the situation.

“Oh man,” I said, my words laced with terror.

“What is it?” Jen asked.

“I think he’s cleaning up puke,” I replied, unblinking and starting a lazy drift back to the other side of the pool only to make a half circle and return to my previous perch. “Yeah, I think he’s cleaning up puke in that very hot car.”

For the next twenty minutes, this lonely father traveled back and forth through the front door of the home, each time carting a different supply—a bucket, garbage sacks, various cleaning supplies, and finally a vacuum cleaner.

“I feel his pain,” I said to my wife as she started to chuckle. “Jobs like this really do take two guns. I almost feel like I should go and help him.”

“Maybe you should,” Jen said unabashedly.

“Because when there’s puke on the scene,” I continued, “I’m the guy who wades in to clean it up.”

“Yes, you are,” she said, remaining stone faced.

And she’s right. When it comes to the dirtiest of jobs in our household, especially ones that involve virally potent body fluids jetting from our children’s various orifices onto carpets and sinks and beds and bouncy seats, I’m the guy. And it doesn’t matter if I’m stricken with the flu, too. I’m the lone gunman in the fight because I’m the only one who can handle the gore.

To provide a maximum example, I remember a time about ten years ago when our oldest sent a spray down the side of his bed and out about five feet across the carpet. Half asleep, he walked through it to our bedroom to tell us he’d thrown up. I’d already been up managing my own puking and had just returned to bed. Jen started gagging even as he told us what had happened. I asked him where and how much, and he said on his floor and that it was only a little bit. Of course when I followed him to his room, it was easy enough to discover the location of ground zero, and not only because of the trail of puke prints he’d made on his way to our room—which I’d slimed through, as well—but because there was, in fact, not a little, but a lot. And because the outer edges of the human muck pond blended into the carpeting so well in the dim light, I managed a few steps into its shoreline before realizing it.

By the time I’d even gotten started cleaning up the mess, I was covered in it. Even in my exhaustion, I cleaned it up alone—the bedroom, the hallway, the bedroom, the boy—and then I bathed myself.

The guy across the way seemed to be having the same lonely trouble, except I’m guessing that the exceptional heat was amplifying the scent and causing him to choke back his own unexpected reflex. I’m also guessing that his wife had already traveled some distance with the scent, was at her wits end, and just wanted to be get away from it. Still, her husband muscled through. Good for him. Sure, two guns would have been better, but he was already proving his mettle. He didn’t need me. And now was not my time, anyway. I was watching in hygienic safety from the pool with a whiskey nearby.

By the way, that is, in fact, the key to any such effort as was unfolding before me. A man can set anything in order with a dram of decent whiskey in hand to sniff and sip. The sniffing abates any smells and the sip wages war against any microbe-sized bodily invaders.

I live by this practice, and it works. And in this particular instance, I’d have suggested a whiskey I added most recently to my collection—the Johnny Smoking Gun edition from Two James Spirits in Detroit.

Meant to compliment Japanese cuisine, which includes the spoiled sushi I’m supposing that the neighboring wife and children ate on their way home to dad, the Johnny Smoking Gun is a stranger breed of whiskey, most certainly giving over pieces of the orient.

The nose offers barely a hint of smoke and sour citrus. The palate is a weird but wonderful jab of sweet tea, honey, and mild oranges. I cannot over-emphasize the oriental nature of this dram. The folks at Two James did some serious work in devising a whiskey that would absolutely serve well to wash down yakitori and a side of warmed udon.

And the finish is sublime—sensual in its sweetness, and careful in its shorter burn.

Now, I should clarify that it’s not that Jen, my lovely wife, doesn’t want to help in times of vomitous crisis. I know she does. It’s just that she can’t. Like so many in this world, the sights, sounds, and smells of such things cause her to gag so much that by requiring her assistance, I’m setting myself up for double the damage. With that, it’s better to just go it alone and let her keep her distance. She can take the kids’ temperatures, give them baths, and make the toast and chicken noodle soup. I’ll handle it when it all comes back up.