The Time Between an Apology

Last week on America’s Got Talent, comedian Howie Mandel made a joke after watching the act of Stevie Starr, a magician known as the “Professional Regurgitator.”

“You, sir, make bulimia entertaining.”

He apologized profusely after the next commercial break, understanding that the twitter-sphere was already calling him out for the insensitive remarks and how they might impact those might develop similar disorders.  This is a snap-shot of what happened shortly after Mandel’s comments.

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Amber always had to do her homework with the TV on.  The general noise helped her concentrate on pre-calculus, or at least that’s what she told her parents.  It was nice to have some sound in the room and if she was being honest, she liked the distraction a bit.  Staring at cosines and tangents for any amount of time was tedious and taking a peak every now and then of a singer or magician on her favorite show wasn’t the worst thing in the world.

Her attention was focused on finding the variables within cofunction identity equations when she looked up at the TV.  Howie Mandel was speaking.  She stopped to listen.  After all, every girl in Sycamore High School took their social cues from the fifty-nine year old comedian.  Whatever he said, they did.  He was in the middle of speaking to a magician who had just vomited a woman’s ring into his own hand after swallowing it moments before.  The crowd was clapping for the “Professional Reguritator” but even Radio City Music Hall fell silent when Mandel began to speak.

“You, sir, make bulimia entertaining.”

Bulimia?  She had heard about that in health class last year.  It was a mental disorder where people binge on food then purge by various methods.  It was extremely dangerous.  But Howie had said it was entertaining.  And if Howie Mandel gave the green light to engage in a potentially life-threatening activity, then she must obey.

This pillar of society, whose opinion held absolute sway over a generation of adolescent females born before 1997, had all but directed her to purge.

Remembering fragments of her health class, Amber rushed to the bathroom and huddled over the toilet.  She stuck her number two pencil in the back of her throat, tasting the well-worn eraser first then the gush of bile and hydrocloric acid.  Her body wretched and dispelled the chicken and rice casserole that her father had made earlier that evening.  She felt more entertaining already.  Howie was right.  The comedian, who had previously been know for putting a latex glove over his head and blowing it up with his nose, was her compass.

“Tell me where to go Howie,” she whispered, wiping thin ropes of spit from her mouth.  Across the country she was sure that millions of girls just like her hunched over a slab of cold porcelain with watery eyes.

Amber pressed the eraser to her esophagus again and waited for another eruption.

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