The One That Got Away

I have many stories to do with my bowels but the most prominent one comes from the time in graduate school. Ever since college, my bowels have become suspect at best mostly because of my poor diet at the time and what I later learned to be early onset of IBS. This time wasn’t different, except, it was. At the time I was attending graduate school in San Diego, CA, living at home with my parents. On this fateful day, I had come to school early so I could study with my classmates and get some homework done. My stomach started it’s usual rumblings as I hadn’t taken a dump earlier that day when I usually do. I decided that I could wait it out and get some food first before taking a dump. So I headed over to Taco Bell where there was a huge line. My bowels decided that it didn’t want to wait so I quickly left the line to head to the bathrooms in the building where I usually take my classes. What I didn’t realize at the time is that these toilets were meant for dudes that are 6′ tall at the least. I’m 5’6″ so that means that I have to sort of climb up onto the seats with my legs dangling over the edge and my toes barely touching the floor. Due to the height, this made me clutch ass cheeks more than usual since I couldn’t properly relax my legs as I can compared to when I sit on a toilet that is lower to the ground. I did the best I could with what I was given and let loose. But this wasn’t a regular blow out dump, this was the clinging kind that refused to clear my ass as easily. This sometimes happens when your bowels go from ass explosion to stubborn stools. Thankfully my legs were long enough to stand up without having to slide off the seat because I could still feel the shit between my cheeks that refused to plop into the bowl. That happens sometimes but I was too high up to lift my legs up and just use toilet paper to get it off. At that time, my habit for pooping consisted of me facing the toilet when it came time to wipe. This day changed my habit for life. I spun around like I usually did to inspect said crap and went to go wipe. As I did my business, I noticed something missing. The crap was no longer there. I looked around and couldn’t find it on the floor or anywhere on me so I shrugged it off as if it had gone into the bowl after all and it was only my imagination. I finished wiping, pulled up my pants, went to wash my hands and grabbed my backpack. I left the bathroom feeling better and headed back downstairs to Taco Bell to grab some food. As I was walking along, I noticed a little smell, but thought nothing of it. I get in line. That’s when the stench hits me. The dude in front of me was kind of grungy so I figured it might be him but the smell was a little too familiar. So I started inspecting myself. That’s when I discovered that the piece of poo I had thought fallen into the toilet, had in fact fallen, but landed on the back of my pants on the outside and had smeared itself all over my back and on my backpack. I already had ordered my food at this point so I waited and grabbed my food quickly without looking up and hurried out of there. I got to my car dropped the food into the seat, took off both my pants and t-shirt, wiped off the excess crap and bolted home. My friends called me asking me where I was and I told them I had to head home to change since my parents dog had crapped on my backpack and I had to go and change. I lied my ass off as I was too embarrassed to tell them what really happened. After I got home, I showered and changed, cleaned off my backpack, ate my food and threw my shit covered clothes into the washer. To this day, I face away from the bowl and carefully get up to wipe my ass instead of the full stand I used to do.

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Like a Virgin

When I was 17 my girlfriend was finally ready to have sex. I, as one might expect of a 17 year old, was excited. Neither hell nor high water was going to stand between me and my final destination.

I get ready for the night, trim everything up, shower extra well. Unfortunately there was also an issue. I have a digestive disorder that sometimes causes my shit to become large and quite solid while still inside me. I wasn’t aware it was a treatable problem; I just thought everyone had to deal with the equivalent of anal kidney stones. I bring this up because I had a mighty one which had been loaded into the gun for several days.

Let me set the scene. Her parents are away. We have her house to ourselves. She is a little kinky so she demands we do it in her parents’ bed. I walk in to a candle holocaust. She’s been working on this all day, apparently, and it’s as bright as high noon in there with the lights off. Which is good, because she proceeds to do a sweet, sexy little dance for me.

I smile and tell her how good she looks. I’m sitting on the bed, watching her, but unfortunately, most of my attention is focused on the dull throbbing from my sphincter and the intestinal discomfort associated with not dropping deuce in days.

But somehow I still get hard and we go to town. We try a bunch of different positions. Due to my built-up distraction, I last for what seems like FOREVER. She can’t stop moaning and telling me how good it feels, and then she says what every man wants to hear “I want to make you cum in my mouth.” So she goes down on me.

She was always average at best in the head department but at least she tries. She pops my cock out of her mouth long enough to look up at me and say “tell me if you like this.”

Then I feel it. She sticks her finger up my ass. My brain hits the panic switch and every muscle in my body locks up. But it’s too late.

I let loose a massive, painful shit, all over her parents’ comforter. No, you aren’t understanding. I mean huge. IMMENSE. Take your largest shit and multiple it by forty-two and you’ll have an idea of what flew out of me. And when I say flew, I mean “hurricane force winds hitting an umbrella stand.” And due to my condition, it comes out as a large, dark brown, smelly harpoon.

I know it hit her. I didn’t see it. She ran screaming “OH MY GOD OHMYGODOHMYGOD EEEEEWWWWWWWW.”

I would like to say I got up to go after her. But I heard the bathroom door shut, and I just lay there. The smell hit me after a few seconds. It smelled like someone rolled a cat in shit and threw it into a tire fire. I looked down and saw this huge pile of shit — and I noticed the blood. Then I noticed the pain.

There was a small pool of blood where my ass had been, a final reminder of the exact place and moment I lost my virginity.

I grab my shit with my hands and go to the downstairs bathroom, feeling a trickle of blood flow down my leg, trying to ignore the sharp pain stabbing my rectum. I find myself wishing I had a photo of this.

Anyway, I finish flushing my baby, clean off my hands, jam toilet paper between my cheeks (I skipped the Band-Aid) and went upstairs. I could hear my girlfriend sobbing from behind the bathroom door. I decided not to say anything to her and just keep moving. The smell in her parents’ room was abysmal.

The scene is burned into my memory for all time. My life. My shame. My very first time smelled like a pile of dead babies. I quickly got dressed since the heat from ten thousand candles was making the room feel more like a port-a-potty. I was aware enough to grab the comforter on my way out and drag it downstairs to their washer, along with the top and bottom sheets, since blood had leaked through to the mattress. Still no sign of her, but at this point I considered it a blessing.

I jammed in the washer with 3 loads worth of detergent and set it on spin, knowing that not even the hand of God would save these linens, let alone Tide and Snuggles. Then I left.

I avoided her calls, so she came to my house. We had a long talk about what happened: talk being synonymous with “breaking up with you because you shit on me.”

She promised not to tell a soul; she was probably as ashamed as I was about the whole deed. Because this was the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me.

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Tossed Salad

by S. Nazkar

In the mid-1990s, I was playing in a band and working as a tour guide, navigating massive Belgian horses and sweaty tourists through the side streets of Charleston, SC. I lived outside the city in a flop house populated by fellow band members and various hangers-on, and I often didn’t feel like driving all the way home after working all day in the Southern heat while wearing a Confederate uniform replete with wool cap.

One night, I went with a bunch of co-workers to see the Squirrel Nut Zippers at a local club. We dutifully played up to their 1920s vibe; I wore some kind of old hat and odd vest, and to make matters worse, I drank old-school cocktails all night (I usually only drink beer and wine, never any sort of mixed drinks). The show was great, but I was too drunk to drive home, so my co-worker Cindy said I could crash at her and her roommate Collette’s place.

The next morning I wake up on the couch in one of those fuzzy, “Where the fuck am I?” states. After remembering where I am, the next thing to hit me is the realization of a sour stomach and the overwhelming urge to shit a violent miasma of mint juleps and late night Waffle House remnants, but the bathroom door is closed—I lean closer and hear the shower. By now, the urge is bad enough that I contemplate just walking in the bathroom and shitting while Cindy showers, but then I picture her screaming like Janet Leigh in Psycho if I just walk in and erupt. We had only started working together a few weeks earlier and were not yet in the “it’s-totally-cool-if-you-shit-next-to- me-while-I’m-lathering-myself-naked” phase of our friendship.

I contemplate other options. The bowel foulness is making me sweat now and impairing my logic. I exit the apartment, waddle down a flight of steps, and approach the downstairs neighbor’s door. I raise my arm to knock when it hits me: Who the hell is going to open their door to a complete stranger and let him shit in their bathroom? I clench my teeth and wobble back up the steps, hoping the bathroom is finally vacated.

The bathroom door is still closed and the shower running. Now frantic, I waddle outside to the piazza, which is basically a square-ish Charleston porch that looks out over the street. I loosen my pants, pull down my underwear and prepare to let loose over the side of the porch. A momentary feeling of calm seizes me as I recognize relief is near. Then I realize I’m about to hang my ass off a third-story porch and let loose on the sidewalk and street down below. And looking down from three stories, I see a construction crew looking up at me from the cracked sidewalk they are repairing. I hurriedly raise my pants and cross the piazza off my list of possible shit places.

By now the turtle is poking its head out of the shell, so I grit my teeth and stumble inside. I approach the bathroom and hear the shower still running. I think of what I could possibly say to Cindy if I just barged in and shit while she saw me from the shower. At a loss for words, I realize I won’t even make it to the bathroom and detour into the kitchen. By now, only the lizard/animal part of my brain is working. I debate shitting in the sink but realize the drain sieve is much too small. I scan the kitchen for anything suitable and a large soup pot in the drainer catches my eye. I pick it up, but I worry it’s not big enough for the rumbling in my bowels; then I see a huge wooden salad bowl out of the corner of my eye and grab it. I want to shit right there and then, but her roommate’s room is right off the kitchen. So I stumble into the living room like a dehydrated person finishing a triathlon, half-squat behind the couch, and fill the salad bowl with pounds and pounds of brown hummus. It feels like it starts under my breastbone and scours every inch of my innards on the way out. Rainbows and unicorns wash over me, and I smile through the sweat as I know the day is going to be fine now.

The feeling of happiness evaporates when my rational brain returns and I realize I’m standing in a relative stranger’s living room holding a giant bowl of shit. The smell of it starts to gag me and I peek my head round the corner to see the bathroom door still shut. I weigh my options: Can’t flush it down the toilet. Can’t throw it off the piazza. Can’t just hide it nonchalantly in the trash. I stow the bowl in the far corner of the porch and take a quick few breaths of crisp (for Charleston) morning air to clear my head, even pausing to sit on the porch swing and think about how lucky I was they had a massive salad bowl. After my heart beat had returned to normal and I stopped sweating, I went in sans shit-laden salad bowl to see if the coast was clear. The bathroom was empty. Finally! I figured I’d just haul the bowl in, pour it out, use a plastic scraper from the kitchen to get whatever stuck to the sides.

I go back to the piazza to retrieve the bowl from the porch, but I am stopped in my tracks. Now Cindy is sitting on the swing, rocking back and forth. The salad bowl of shit is now lightly steaming in the corner of the porch behind her. I figure she already saw it, but I position my body between her line of sight and the salad bowl just in case.

“Good morning,” I mutter.

“Good morning,” she said. “Sleep okay?”

I’m still waiting to see if she’s messing with me, but it becomes clear she’s not. She’s hung over, too, just simply gazing out over the city. We make a little small talk about leading tours when hung over, then I remember the problem of the giant bowl of steaming shit again. All I can come up with is a lie.

“Umm… I think I heard Collette calling you.”

Cindy furrows her brow. “What did she want?”

“Umm.. .not sure, she just said she needed to talk to you or something.”

“That’s weird,” Cindy says, then she gets up and walks off toward Colette’s room. I spin immediately, grab the bowl, spring to the bathroom, flush the contents down the toilet, rinse it in the sink and put it back in its rightful spot in the kitchen.

I go back to the porch to celebrate and Cindy is there again.

“What the hell? Colette was still sleeping, said she never even woke up yet.”

“Huh, I must be hearing things. Sorry about that.”

“Well, we better get to work.”

A typical day in the trenches of Southern tourism unfolded. At the end of our shift, Cindy came up to me and said Collette cooked a nice dinner and invited me. I accepted. When we got there, I see a lovely spread of pastries and chicken, replete with a fresh green salad in the familiar salad bowl. I start laughing but don’t explain why when they ask. And though I always eat everything no matter what, and they know me as a grub who eats leftovers off their plates, I refuse to eat any salad and they keep asking what’s wrong. I tell them I will eventually explain one day.

About a year later, Cindy and Collette were moving away and invited me for one last dinner. I finally told them the sordid history of their salad bowl story and their faces looked as if I were Freddy Krueger. An incredulous howl goes up: “Do you know how many times we’ve used that bowl since then? I can’t believe it, I’m going to throw up!” Cindy got up, grabbed the salad bowl, and put it in my lap. “It’s yours now!”

I never could bring myself to eat it out of it, probably because I’m the only one who actually saw it brimming over with brown filth, and I eventually put it in a dumpster rather than give it to Goodwill. I’ve had some hairy intestinal moments since then where I wished that trusty salad bowl had been at my side, but nothing has compared to the violent synthesis of my weak stomach, Squirrel Nut Zipper cocktails, and Cindy’s long showers.

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Trio: Copraphagia

I

We always rented a cabin in Wisconsin Dells for a few weeks in the summers when I was small, and one summer when I was four years old, my sister Elaine, who was eleven, and I took the row boat out for an evening ride. Suddenly, I had to go #2 really bad! There was no way we’d make it back to the cabin, so Elaine persuaded me to slide into the water with my life jacket on, hang onto the side of the boat with one hand, and tug my bathing suit to the side and let fly. I was so embarrassed, but necessity dictated hers was the logical choice, so in I went. As I did my business, I was horrified to note that small brown lumps began to pop to the surface and float all around me like tootsie rolls! I didn’t want to touch them, so as soon as I finished, I screamed for Elaine to lift me back into the boat. As if that wasn’t enough, as soon as I was out of the water, there was a sudden splish-splash all around us, and small carp began gobbling up my solid, little contributions. Who knew fish delighted in small person poop?

 

II

My grandmother told me one that troubles me to this day. She told me that when she was a little girl she was quite the prankster. She was a country girl, and although her family was well traveled, many of the children on the neighboring farms or in sharecropper shacks were not so well traveled. No shoes, that sort of thing. One day she decided to play a prank on a local boy who was a bit of a thug and not too bright. She arranged poop on a plate and told him it was chocolate. He ate it all. Questioned whether it was really chocolate but didn’t suspect. I can’t remember if she told him or not.

 

III

My sister-in-law was working as a pharmacy tech in some small-ish Eastern Tennessee town. This guy came in one day and asked to speak to the pharmacists. She asked what it was in reference to, and the guy wanted to know if there’s some kind of medicine he can take for worms. He said he had worms in his poop. She stopped him and went to get the pharmacist but not after saying he probably should go to his doctor if there are worms in his poop.

The pharmacist came out and, having heard a lot of crazy things before, suggested to the guy that perhaps they weren’t worms but maybe some undigested food or something. The guy said he knows for sure they were worms and asked about any over-the-counter medications he could take. The pharmacist explained the medication would be determined by the type of worms, and he really needs to go to the doctor to find that out.

The pharmacist – I can’t believe he went this far with this conversation – said, “OK, describe what the worms looked like.”

The guy said, “I can do better than that,” and pulled out a jar with his poop and the now-dead worms in it.

Mind over matter

“The ruins at Panduwasnuwara are from this ancient city that ran on shit,” Josh told me.

“Then we have to go see it,” I said.

So we found ourselves exploring the crumbling brick walls of the utterly abandoned archaeological site with our two wives and two three-year olds. With very few signs telling us what we were looking at, Josh played tour guide, relaying to us what monks had told him on a previous visit: Panduwasnuwara is remarkable for its system of sewers that drained to a central holding tank. When this tank filled, the residents would dry the waste and make fuel out of it.

We wandered the site almost alone, joined by a few Sri Lankan couples more interested in canoodling in the tall grass than in archaeology. When it comes to ancient ruins, Panduwasnuwara isn’t at the top of Sri Lanka’s must-see list. My son and Josh’s daughter were playing together on the walls. Josh’s wife was taking pictures, and Josh was telling my wife and me the little he knew about Shit City as we wandered the ruins.

All this talk of poop alerted me that I needed to make a deposit in the National Bank of Panduwasnuwara. There were no bathrooms around, not even a Port-a-Potty. We were in the middle of the jungle, so clearly I was going to have to pinch one al fresco.

There’s no holding it; if I don’t do it now, I will surely pay the price in thirty seconds when things spiral out of control. My fuse shortens exponentially with each passing year; I am pretty sure I’ll be carrying a just-in-case Big Gulp cup and a pack of baby wipes with my AARP card. I was wise enough to have a sweat-soaked handkerchief in my back pocket. I was wearing light-colored khakis (CUE: foreshadowing music), and we all know that khakis have a narrow margin of error.

I spotted a nice big tree next to the ruins – plenty of privacy. I trotted toward it and began unzipping. My sphincter has ears, and the sound of an unzipped zipper is the equivalent of “Taps” – time to put a few soldiers in their grave.

The bad news: while my sphincter ears were hearing a sweet siren song, my real ears heard the sounds of a young couple making out on the other side of the tree. People within earshot and noseshot made it an automatic no-dumping zone.

The good news: it was a large, empty complex, and I could find another spot for privacy.

I zipped up, shouted at my sphincter to have a smoke and relax, and searched for another spot. An inviting cluster of trees was not too far off, so I headed toward them. The Oompa Loompas were screaming to make chocolate, and I told them to get ready.

That’s when I heard the high, shrill scream of a child’s agony.

I ran toward the wail, now punctuated with sobs. Josh and my wife ran in the same direction, the three of us shouting and running blindly, following the crying child sound to a spot at the far corner of the ruins.

I arrived shortly after Josh’s wife. My son stood on a crumbling brick wall, looking down. Four feet below him, Josh’s daughter lay on the dirt, shrieking and holding her visibly broken forearm which jutted at an awful angle. My son’s face was awash in panic.

“We were just playing on the wall and she fell,” he whispered.

Josh came barreling onto the scene, taking in the sight of his wife comforting his daughter, taking in her broken arm. This normally calm man completely lost his shit at the sight of his broken child. He reached down and scooped up his tiny, sobbing daughter.

“What did you do to her?” he roared at my son.

“Josh!” his wife shouted.

My son froze.

I took a deep breath to keep calm; getting in a fight with Josh about mistreating my son wasn’t going to do anything but make the situation worse. My wife came and wrapped her arms around our son, and Josh cradled his daughter in his arms.

Clearly, we needed to get her to a doctor. We got in our rented van, Josh driving and his daughter sitting on her mother’s lap in front, me and my wife sitting on either side of our silent son in back. We sped to a nearby small town not ten minutes away. Josh stopped the van outside of some sort of backwoods medical facility; I couldn’t read the signs in Sinhala script. He tapped the wheel a few moments and then shook his head. He announced that he couldn’t take her to a village doctor; who knows what kind of treatment she’d get? Josh had significantly more Sri Lanka experience than anyone else in the van, so we bowed to his knowledge.

“We have to go to Kurunegala,” he declared, throwing the van into gear and speeding off down the dirt road.

“But that’s an hour away!” his wife exclaimed.

“We can’t take her to a village doctor,” Josh muttered. He was in a crazed state, and there was no reasoning with him. He glared at my son in the rear view mirror, and I pressed my boy closer to me.

My son whispered to me and my wife, “We were playing. She ran past me and fell off.” I believed him, and he maintained his innocence in the years since.

Josh drove through the jungle like a madman, tearing around buses and cars and three-wheeled tuk-tuks, slamming the brakes for every goat and python in the road. Each time he jerked the van, his daughter cried out and his wife yelled at him to slow down.

That’s when I remembered how badly I had to shit. An hour to Kurunegala! What the fuck was I going to do?

I knew Josh wouldn’t stop, and I sensed that if I did ask him to stop, he was going to unleash a fountain of unpleasant that was going to end with my family abandoned roadside in the middle of the jungle, with no ride home and paternal khakis full of hot jungle shit.

I don’t trust my sphincter. For years, it has promised farts and delivered mudslides. It doesn’t wait for the actual toilet seat to go down; it starts releasing at the first song of unzip. So I couldn’t just clench, not with Benedict Anus on duty. I needed something else. It was time to get a little Zen on my ass. Or in my ass.

This was time for serious visualization exercises. I closed my eyes and took control. What the mind can believe, the colon can achieve. Rather than squeeze my sphincter desperately, I pictured a fist closed firmly around my colon like the neck of an upside-down paper lunch bag. No matter how full that bag gets, ain’t nothing coming out. Road closed, and there is no detour: you’ll just have to wait.

We drove on. Josh’s insanity showed no sign of abating, and as we tore through the jungle at breakneck speed, I kept my mind on the prize. It was working. The pain was still there, but none of the urgency. My wife tried to whisper something to me, and I cut her off: I am trying not to shit my pants and I can’t talk right now. It is a testament to her that she understood and took on comforting our son solo.

Josh’s daughter was coming in and out of an exhausted, pain-drenched fugue state, half-sleeping, half crying. It was easier to concentrate on the Zen fist when she wasn’t crying, and each time the van jerked, I had to redouble my efforts to close the fist. I considered praying for Josh to drive better, but that used precious mental energy.

An excruciating hour later, we were tearing through the streets of Kurunegala, Josh stopping at each intersection to get directions to the hospital. When we arrived on the hospital grounds, we left the van in front of the main entrance, and Josh and I both ran in. He went to the front desk to find out about getting his daughter admitted; I started looking for the toilet. A woman in a habit – either a nurse or a nun or both – directed me to another building.

No toilet in the hospital? You’re shitting me!

This was getting dangerous. Running and nun-critiquing and thinking meant less mental effort expended on my magical clutching fist. Things were churning, and it wasn’t good. I ran to the next building; it was nearly deserted. There were no signs for a toilet. Running was not good, either, so I slowed to a waddle.

Nothing. No toilet. As I exited the building, I was nearly run over by Josh in the van.

“Hop in! This place is a nightmare! It’s filthy. We’re going to Kandy,” he said. Kandy was home, another hour away.

I looked at the maniacal glint in his eye, the child wailing in her mother’s arms. I had no choice: I got in the van.

My wife smiled at me. “Feel better?”

“There was no toilet,” I whispered.

The sympathy and horror on her face were enough to void my bowels right then and there. As we’d traveled together over the years, I’d abandoned enough underwear in fast-food restaurants and train station bathrooms that she knew I was beyond my abilities here.

I sat back and regained my concentration on the fist. It wasn’t working, though. It was a struggle now. I had lost ground while running about the hospital. I pictured the Zen fist, but my colon was having none of it. Vesuvius was about to blow.

But what of the poor people of Pompeii and Herculaneum? What of them?

I had to keep trying, so I added a second fist. Two fists are better than one, right? My mind’s eye stacked them end to end the way you’d hold a baseball bat. I made and remade the fists, one finger at a time, like playing a scale on the piano. Reverse peristalsis. Exorcism. In my mind’s eye, both fists squeezed, working the toothpaste back up into the tube.

And suddenly, I was back in control. I was in the moment. I ignored everything around me, focused within, and found inner peace in the form of two fists clenched around a bag of turbulent shit. Transcendence in the back of a van lurching through the hill country of Sri Lanka: I don’t remember that ride. Everything was blacked out.

We got to Kandy, pulled up to the front door of the hospital, and Josh and family rushed inside. Here’s the thing: Lakeside Adventist Hospital was a five-minute walk from my house. My house was right there. So close. Toilet and shower right there in the same spot. A perfect denouement for the Greek tragedy brewing below.

But I had to face facts, and I had the presence of mind to know that I couldn’t walk that far without my house of cards tumbling in disaster. As soon as I stepped out of the van, the fists disappeared. The siren song began its call, and I started clenching as though my life depended on it. Are you there, God? It’s me, John. Please let there be a fucking toilet in the lobby.

I looked around the main entrance and saw a sign for toilets. I walked very slowly and deliberately toward the men’s room. I have to be gentle with my sphincter in this hair-trigger state: I have been known to crap myself right outside the bathroom door. My sphincter is an excitable, piddling puppy.

I got to the bathroom. The good news is that it was unoccupied. The bad news is that it was a squat toilet, a tiny closet of a room with a sopping wet tile floor and two footrests astride a hole. I don’t mind squat toilets, but I had enough experience with them to know one thing: the minute I bent to squat, I would shit all over my khakis.

The only way to make this work was to step completely out of my pants without releasing the Kraken. My concentration was shot, and I relied on SuperSphincter to do me right. I unzipped. I couldn’t let the khakis fall to the floor, or they’d be soaked in the rinse water of everyone who’d pissed and shat in there before me. I clenchedclenchedclenched and, balancing on one leg, worked one foot free of the pants leg – thank God for yoga – stepping expertly out of and back into my flip-flop. I performed the same feat with the other foot, then clutched my khakis in a ball to my chest as I squatted, now naked from the waist down, above that black hole. A Kodak moment.

While shit poured from me, I sobbed. Really, I did. My head on my forearms on my knees, crumpled in despair and victory and relief: never have I been so victorious over my irrational, disobedient sphincter. I shat and I cried and I held my khakis high as I released the Black Plague all over the floor and my feet and my flip-flops.

It took me a good half hour to empty my oil tank and then clean up the Exxon Valdez oil spill. But that’s okay: that’s how squat toilets are designed. There was a spigot near the door which flooded the tile, and it all ran into the squatter, Black Death and drowned cormorants and all. It all washed away.

By the way: if you find yourself in the Kandy Lakeside Adventist Hospital men’s room, here’s a word of warning — there’s no soap.

I walked back out to the lobby a good twelve pounds lighter and learned that Josh’s daughter was with a doctor. (Her arm was set in a fetching, hot pink cast; six months later, she re-broke it in the U.S. because they set it badly.) We were free to go home, so we did. I’m pretty sure my wife had some new-found respect for me that day.

I’ll end this tale of victory, of mind over matter, of man vs. sphincter, with a word of warning: if you picture two fists wrapped around your colon, it has the same physical effect as having two real fists wrapped around your colon. I might have been victorious in the van, but it took two weeks before my off-ramp was working properly. Be careful how you use your powers.

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Gold Mine

My graduation tassel was hanging from a door knob in my apartment. I kept it there because my cat loved playing with it. Knocking it around, trying to catch it. All in all a fun time for him.

One evening I was taking a bath and my cat comes running into the bathroom, frantically rubbing his butt along the floor and leaving a lovely streak of poop behind him and meowing loudly. Something was definitely wrong.

I hopped out of the bath and grabbed his hind legs to see what’s up. There was something making its way out of his butt. It was not poop. It was dark like poop, but it had texture to it. Worms. The longest, most insidious, gargantuan parasitical worm I’ve ever seen. I wanted to scream and run but I knew I had to help my cat get through this. This was a moment when a 20-some year old becomes a responsible, step-up-to-the-plate adult. I knew then that I was being tested.

I got past the gag reflex going on and unrolled a massive amount of toilet paper. I grabbed hold of the end of the worm that was sticking out of my cat’s butt and pulled. He howled. I thought that this thing had hold of his heart and was going to pull internal organs out. But I persisted. I had to get this awful parasite out of my sweet, innocent cat’s body. So I pulled again. More resistance. More howling. Oh, it was so long. How could this thing be living in his body without me knowing he was sick? I pulled one more time and finally all of it came out.

The cat ran off somewhere to hide, traumatized by the entire event. I sat there stunned with this thing in my hand. I had to figure out if I should keep it to show the vet or  just study it so I could describe it. The former was not an appealing option because I wanted to be rid of this thing.

I take a closer look at this poop-stained thing and note that its texture is very uniform. In fact it’s braided and I think that’s really odd for a worm. Then I noticed some of its color poking through. It’s gold.

Just like my graduation tassel.

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All in the Family

The reason we ate grilled lamb all week was that we were traveling, we were young, and we were poor. My brothers and I were still in sticker shock from London when we arrived in Paris for four days, so we were looking for the cheapest food imaginable. I had been in Paris the year before, so I was in charge of accommodations; my two brothers were there for the first time. I found us an inexpensive but terrific hotel room in the Latin Quarter, tucked away on meandering street with little shops and lots of windows with food you could carry away.

And carry it away we did: greasily delicious, grilled lamb packed into a baguette with French fries. We two oldest, just out of college at the time, were so taken with this cheap food that we ate it for lunch and dinner. We’re big boys; sometimes we’d even order a second baguette, even though one was plenty. Our younger brother, Albert, a skinny high school student, quickly tired of the lamb, but skinny people don’t eat that much, and he was spending our mother’s money. My older brother, Simon, and I were spending our own, but more significantly, we were cheap. We stuck to the lamb.

The inexpensive but terrific hotel room had three single beds and a large bathroom with toilet, bidet, and shower. My brothers eyed the shower suspiciously – a showerhead sticking from a wall, and a drain beneath it in the tiled floor, the shower area marked by a ridge of tile. The best feature of the room was a big French window; we were on the third floor, and by spreading the windows wide, we had a view of the neighborhood and even of the Panthéon’s dome, if you stuck your head out and craned your neck a little.

It took perhaps two days for the Lamb of God diet to work its magic. We were on a crowded Métro train, and I expertly released what I thought would be an undetected fart. I was wrong. This wasn’t silent but deadly; this was silent but pestilential. Simon looked at me, his eyes wide. He glared.

“You are nasty,” he hissed. He didn’t have to ask whether it was me or Jean-Jacques next to me. We’re brothers; he knew. Then as the potency of my vicious fart revealed itself, he started laughing. A fart like that — sour, eggy, sweet — calls for appreciation. It was just fucking incredible.

Albert made a face and moved away from me, rolling his eyes in embarrassment at his older brothers. He knew perfectly well that the fart was just as likely to have been Simon’s and that Simon was redirecting blame.

I remember that particular fart well, not because it was the worst, but because it was the first. Almost immediately, Simon began to replicate my swamp gas, and the two of us were poisoning the air in a twenty-foot radius. Whatever genetic makeup we share includes the ability to manufacture the same grotesque stench. Our manufacturing plant began running 24/7.

We spent that day traipsing around Paris, incapable of stopping the fumes enveloping us like a cloud, Albert fifty feet ahead of us at all times. A lot of farting is not out of the ordinary; this was out of the ordinary. Never have I farted like this, and never in stereo. We came back to our hotel room after a day at Versailles, and the room still reeked of brimstone.

By the third day, Albert was in despair. He’d spent the entire night awake with his two older brothers tear-gassing the hotel room. “You guys have to stop it!” he cried, in actual tears. What could we do but fart some more and roll in hysterics while Albert hung his head out of the French windows, gasping for air? We discovered that when you lay on the bed, it smelled worse. Yes: this was the heaviest gas known to man, and it sunk to the floor. Albert eventually abandoned us, leaving us to giggle in our own stench while he explored Paris unmolested.

After a full day of Parisian fart tourism, we settled in to sleep. The French windows were wide open, and Albert had scooted his bed closer to the fresh air. Simon got up for the bathroom. He was in there for a while; I heard water running, splashing, possibly the shower. I don’t fall asleep easily, and I was beginning to be curious. Eventually, the door opened; light from the bathroom poured into our room. Simon was backlit in the doorway, but I could see that he was tracking wet footprints into the room.

“I couldn’t get the toilet to flush,” he said, loudly.

“We’re trying to sleep,” I told him.

He said, “I took a dump. It wouldn’t go down. Then I turned on the faucet and water sprayed up in my face. But the shit still wouldn’t flush. I had to smash it into the little holes with my heel.”

“What little holes?” I asked.

“The other toilet,” he said.

“What do you mean, other toilet?” I asked.

Simon was silent a moment, and I realized that he meant the bidet.

“I couldn’t get the shit to flush,” he said.

“That’s a fucking bidet!” I shouted. “It’s for washing your ass!”

He said, “Well don’t use it, because there are little pieces of shit caked around the drain.”

I started laughing.

“You are both so gross,” Albert moaned as he pulled the sheets over his head.

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The Ugly American

I hopped the pond to visit a friend who was going to school in Scotland. We met in London.

The four days prior to my UK trip, I was away from home for a work conference. At the conference I shared a hotel room with a co-worker. During the day, the only bathrooms around me were public bathrooms. I get a bit gun-shy in those circumstances. The time between returning home from the conference and the red-eye flight to London was about 5 hours. There was no time to fool around. I had laundry to do, packing, litter box cleaning, etc. Not a lot of time to take care of a bunch of crap, including crap.

By the time I got to London, there was much I had to express.  Also, I was joined by cousin Flo as I hopped the Atlantic. At this point, I knew my reluctance to use a public toilet for releasing the hounds was diminishing. I could not do it on the plane. The chaos of the airport was enough diversion to make me forget there was a storm a-brewin’.

After all the car rental bit and figuring our way out of Heathrow and into London, my urgent business became top priority. And there it was: an unsuspecting public restroom near Westminster Abbey. Embarrassed, I warned my friend as we went in that she might not want to stick around, and I offered to wait until she was a safe distance away from the scene of the crime.

Being the good, old friend she was, she said not to hold back and she understood.

It was a lot. A lot. And cousin Flo’s luggage.

As it’s happening, my friend and I talk about it, at one point joking that I’m going to clog up the toilet and how awful it’d be if this spilled over or didn’t flush.

I finish up and reach to flush. This is not a normal toilet; it’s one of those cool, wall tank thingamajigs. This was right up there with seeing a red phone booth. Excitedly, I yank the chain. Nothing happened. Yank again. Nothing. My friend is still in the bathroom so I ask if there’s some trick to this? Not really, just yank and hold for a little bit. I keep trying and no go.

Panic starts. I cannot possibly leave this for some unsuspecting stranger. I’ve seen a lot of assaulted, abandoned public toilets and am always horrified that someone would leave it. I am that person who, in most cases, mans up and flushes vandalized toilets to get rid of a stranger’s mess. Admittedly, there have been a handful of times when it was too heinous for me stomach. Because I am so disgusted that people do this, I never want to be the culprit.

This toilet did not care at all that I’ve set this standard in my life. It was not cooperative.

Despite my friend’s best efforts to talk me through the process, we were both convinced I was, at that point, incapable of figuring out how to flush this toilet.

Then she said it: let me in, I’ll do it. I was horrified.. but I saw no other option. Leave it behind and step all over my principles or accept my friend’s help? It took her a few minutes to talk me out of the stall so that she could come in.

She promised she wouldn’t look at the bowl. She did anyway. I can’t remember if it was “Jesus” or something more British like “for fuck’s sake,” but something came out of her mouth to indicate she’d seen IT.

It turned out the toilet must have been broken before my rearward assault. For the short period of time she could stay in the small space, my friend couldn’t get the toilet to flush.

We were defeated. We washed our hands very quickly and as we were leaving, the first other visitor came walking in. I imagine all blood drained from my face right then. My friend and I looked at each other and walked out as quickly and quietly as we could, until we were outside. Then we burst into giggles.

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Trifecta: The Wrong Place at the Wrong Time

I.

by Kimberley Lynne

I was running a healthcare conference at the Marriott and PETA protested by leaving a big stinky pile of human poop right in front of the ballroom doors. As the hotel staff scrambled to remove it, we poured bags of coffee on it to kill the stench.

***

II.

I had been drinking Sambuca after the bar closed. We decided a two-hour road-trip to DC was in order, and as we drove I finished off the bottle. We got to DC about 5 a.m. on a Saturday morning. We started to walk up an empty road, and I was hit with the need to go. I think at this point I was barking like a dog, just for fun. It occurred to me that dogs just go in the road so I dropped my pants and pooped right in the road. Really odd. Didn’t drink Sambuca after I sobered up and realized what I had done.

***

III.

I ran into the house already unbuckling my pants – it was time to go. I bolted up the stairs and found the bathroom door locked. The one bathroom in the house.

I jiggled the doorknob to be sure, and my teenaged son’s voice croaked out from the crack in the door: “I had to come home early. I’m sick.”

I tried to hide the panic in my voice. “Do you think you’ll be in there long?”

He said, “I’m sorry.” Sick as a dog and the dear boy still knows his father has a short poop fuse. “I have diarrhea.”

I shouted a “No problem!” over my shoulder as I shuffled down the hall and back downstairs. My pants were around my knees, and it was hard to run. But I needed to run, unless I wanted to shit on the stairs, because it was coming, uninvited like the plague, hammering the gates of the citadel like the Hun army.

I raced to the kitchen, where at least there’s linoleum. I spied the kitchen trashcan. Perfect.

I pulled the trash can out from the wall, and with the grace of a ballerina, spun, dropped trou, and parked my woebegotten ass in the top of the trashcan.

This was not a firm one. Spraying, sputtering, machine-gun fire. I was thinking that maybe I had what my son had, and I glanced guiltily back toward the stairs. My dog sat in the doorway to the kitchen, watching me with his head cocked slightly to one side. I shouted at him to go away, and he retreated a few paces, still watching me.

See, what’s perfect about a kitchen trashcan is that not only is it strong enough to support your weight and only slightly too tall, but it has a plastic liner. When I finished, I stood up and cleaned myself off with paper towels, tossing them onto the mass of angry Huns. I tied the bag tightly shut and carried it out to the big garbage can behind the house. I shouted at my dog to get away from the outside garbage can, and I returned to the house fresh as a daisy.

Kitchen trashcans: totally my go-to place to go in the future.

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Venetian Bathroom

I had the fantastic opportunity to take a cooking course in Tuscany, a glorious week filled with amazing foods, fabulous classmates, a little sight-seeing, and copious amounts of really good wine. It was the best of times for sure.

After the course was over, my little party boarded the train to Venice for a week of culture, shopping, and some basic, unapologetic tourism. Shortly into the trip, I felt the rumble. I knew that rumble. The non-stop copious amounts of wine were taking their toll. It was time for a cleanse.

I passed the time ignoring the rumble by chatting with one of my classmates — a Brazilian and about the most stunningly exotic creature I have ever met. She got off somewhere along the way to catch a connecting train to Milan, and we continued on to Venice.

The urge to purge was getting to be intense, but having experienced this before, I was determined to not use the public restroom in the train station. I was likely going to be in there for a while, so the privacy and comfort of my own private hotel room was what I wanted. It’s what I needed.

When the train came to a stop in Venice, I grabbed my luggage and bolted. I got a cab and made a bee-line for the Marriott, checked in mercifully fast, and received the card key to my room.

My room. The room was lovely and well appointed. At least I think so; I only caught a passing glimpse as I dashed to the bathroom and set about taking care of some simmering, long-overdue business. Once the gates were opened, there was no stopping it. Nothing to do but relax and let the cleanse progress. I checked out the facilities: bidet, sink, glass shower with a chain hanging down that said “Emergency,” TP on the wall to the left, big walnut door —

And then it happened: the lights went out. The air cut off. It was dead dark and calm in there. I felt the wall for the door handle to crack the door for some light. Found it. Turned it. Nothing. Try as I might, the door would not budge.

I started fiddling with the lock, thinking maybe it had auto-locked. Still nothing. It got more and more still in there and hotter and hotter. That’s when I knew I was going to die in a Venetian hotel bathroom without ever seeing Venice, that most beautiful city of canals and gondolas. Nope, not for me. A Marriott bathroom: that is Venice to me.

I made a concerted effort to leave the toilet and cleaned up as best as I could. This seemed an inappropriate time to try to master a bidet, though it could prove useful in the cleanliness department. In the pitch dark, how do you know if you are fully fresh down there? Still, not the time to learn a bidet.

The room was now stifling hot. I wondered if perhaps my group would come looking for me. I deemed myself clean, and I felt my way along the wall to wash my hands. What would happen if I pulled the emergency cord? Did I want to risk finding out? Would it be better to just die in here and let housekeeping find me the next day?

I returned to the throne and made an effort to get out of that hellhole. After about 20 more minutes of tinkering, I learned that there was a fine art to turning the lock halfway while lifting the handle at the same time and pulling. One hour in there — cleanse, clean, and panic totaled — and I was out.

The bathroom door was never shut again the rest of the week.

It turns out I didn’t know the most basic of facts: European hotels are fond of an energy-saving feature where you put your room key in a power slot in the wall to enable lights and air. Leave for the day to tour about, and it eliminates your ability to leave the lights on and the air blasting. Nice feature, but I was unaware.

I was grateful I got out of the bathroom and discovered the power slot, but not grateful enough to tell the others in my group about it. I let them figure it out their own damn selves.

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