We devoured 2 large circles of dough and cheese and went about the rest of our evenings.
Approximately 2 hours later, the first inkling of doom crept over us.
One by one our faces lost their youthful glow and we took on a ghostly pallor.
The next few hours was a vomit relay race, but instead of passing a shiny baton to the next competitor, you exchange commiserating grunts as you enter and exit the bathroom.
"A classic case of staph," my mom told to me later. I know now that she was referring to Staphylococcus aureus, a common bacteria. (My mom is super smart, and she made me believe that knowing everything was a prerequisite of adulthood. Turns out it's not.)
My elementary school self wasn't too sure what she was talking about, so she explained that it was a bacteria that live normally on the human body.
I didn't understand why a bacteria that's around me all the time could make me sick. If it's on my skin, why don't I get sick from licking my arm? And perhaps more importantly, why was I licking my arm at all?
Now I know that food poisoning like this happens when food is exposed to bacteria and allowed to incubate. My body can handle the few million bacteria I might lick off my arm, should I choose to do so, but if I ingest a piece of pizza that someone sneezed on and then kept at a bacterially-comfortable 85 degrees for several hours, allowing billions of them to propogate, then my stomach is going to take umbrage at this.
We know a lot about keeping our food safe from microbial invaders. We cook food to high temperatures to kill any bacteria that may already be there, and we keep things in refrigerators to keep bacteria from growing. They hate the cold.
When food poisoning strikes, we often assume the culprit is improperly cooked meat or spoiled dairy, but just as often, it's poorly-handled raw produce. I once got horrible food poisoning from a glass of beet and carrot juice I ordered at a wellness spa. You needn't point out the irony. I'm well aware.
Once again I will defend my bacterial friends. They don't mean to cause us pain. They just like the same food we do, so this conflict can occasionally arise. But they're not doing it on purpose. They just cause trouble when they wind up where they shouldn't be. If it makes you feel any better, I doubt they're thrilled with the mixup either.