A number of readers have asked me to explain why vomiting is a bad thing; and the truth is that while I’ve alluded to the issue a number of times, I’m not sure if I’ve ever laid out the whole case. So here goes.
There are actually many different reasons to worry about vomiting. So first of all: when people expect to vomit, they become less willing to consume more beer or eat more chips and dip and, in particular, less willing to to be social at parties. After all, once the hurl starts, sitting in the bathroom with your arms around the porcelin bus becomes your only productive activity, and anyone considering eating and drinking, even for a socially important event, has to take account of the fact that more beer will simply lead to more vomiting. If the party is rocking, all this can be offset by just keeping a bucket next to you; but if many succumb to the urge to vomit, even a Walmart full of buckets will not be enough to keep the place rocking. And when that happens, the party may stay depressed because people expect more vomiting, triggering a chain reaction of more vomiting by others. That’s the “vomit comet” we keep worrying about.
A second effect: even aside from expectations of future vomiting, nausea worsens the position of chronic vomiters by increasing the real burden of their over consumption of beer. Now, you might think this is a zero-sum affair, since the party host spends less on beer. But as Spicolli et al. pointed out, vomiters are likely to be forced to cut their drinking when their hurl rate rises, whereas party hosts cannot decrease their beer and liquor purchases on the same time scales. So vomiting exerts a depressing effect on future parties which, as Spicolli also points out, can lead to another kind of vicious circle in which depressed liquor purchases leads to less drinking at later parties, which can markedly decrease the annualized animal spirits.
Finally, in a party loaded with highly intoxicated people (vomiteers), sex falls way off – it’s a fact of life that it’s very hard to get laid once you have vomited — causing the primary reason to get shitfaced to disappear altogether. What this means is that, in general, parties that end with guests gagging on their own vomit will probably forego sex altogether. (See Lohan et al., Downey et al., and Gibson et al. for examples.)
Now, alert readers will have noticed that none of these arguments abruptly kicks in when only one or two people drink to the point of hurling. Nonetheless, the zero lower bound may be binding; those who get close to vomiting are probably going home alone, however, even if they don’t hurl. So the argument that hurling is a bad thing is also an argument saying that a party filled with people who are only close to hurling is also problematic. That’s why, although the party is not a party without tons of booze, it is important to stem the gag reflex altogether. It’s why respectable people (see Hanks et al.) recommend dramamine.