Ask Cool Daddy…The Y Factor…
( for Yuck)
Dear Cool Daddy: I was looking over a Buffalo Bills program I got at a game the season before last, and in the diagram of Ralph Wilson Stadium, I notice a reference to a “vomitory”…I beg your pardon? …from Chuck, Upper Sanduksy, Ohio
Dear Chuck: I’m guessing this is what you saw:
Several pages previous….if the game was really boring…you might have seen (below, left) in the “Ralph Wilson Stadium Policies & Procedures”…compare to a comment from a chat-room for ushers (below, right)…and why not?…they’re people too, sort of…
OK, from an architectural point of view, the use of the V-word is entirely correct. But it’s use is properly confined to architectural writing, and has no place in common discourse…certainly not in the diagram of a sports stadium that sells beer, for gosh sakes.
In ancient Roman times, a vomitorium was an entrance or passageway beneath or behind the tiered seats of an amphitheater. Placed judiciously, they greatly facilitated entry and exit of spectators. It is said that the 80 odd vomitoria (Latin plural…English is vomitoriums) in the Colosseum could seat 50,000 people in 15 minutes…and “spew” them out again into the street just as quickly…hence the name.
Similar designs are still in use today, but they are usually called entrances or gates…the modernized form vomitory is a silly and tasteless affectation. After all, rapeseed oil, from the rapeseed plant, has nothing to do with either sexual assault or, in the older sense, seizing and carrying off (hence the dinosaurs and birds of prey called raptors)…and yet it is called Canola oil in deference to common sensitivities. Coined in 1978, it stands for Canadian Oil, Low Acid. But then the juxtaposition of “vomitory” and “Ralph” (Wilson Stadium) is sort of neat, no getting around it.
BTW, this old name resulted in the completely erroneous notion that extreme epicureans and orgy enthusiasts had special rooms in which to vomit after gorging, so that they could, um, gorge again. But the simple truth is, there were no such rooms, nor any such common practice. Admittedly, the ancients were not shy about up-chucking…and intentional binging and purging, despite the fancy names we’ve come of with, is not modern a invention. But again, it simply meant tunnels to allow the quick entry and quick exit of large crowds…nothing more…sorry.
shameless plugs, perfect for the throne room…
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