I always wanted to be good at a particular type of writing. When I was in college I had this fantasy of being the next young, edgy, insightful, sensitive, and humorous author who could break hearts with a few soul cleaving paragraphs and touch human truths with an artistically wry wit that seemed to playfully ambush my fantasized about troves of loyal readers (mostly swooning females).
Turns out I'm good at telling stories in which people shit their pants.
I know this because every time I post something that lays my soul bare my dad calls and says something like, "Hey, I read your blog the other day. I thought it was well written." When I post a poo story, I hear similar comments, but said comments need to be deciphered among periodic peals of laughter and child-like giggling. Typically, these stories also receive the most Facebook comments, often from people I've not heard from in years, and also get the most hits on the blog. I guess as a writer it's good to have a wheelhouse, I just never thought mine would involve human excrement.
Oh well. Know thyself, right?
In college my sister dated a miserable asshole we'll call Zack, mostly because Zack is his real name and I have absolutely no love loss for the guy. Zack was an odious hipster at a time when Austin was just becoming overwhelmed with odious hipsters. He had that heroin chic look, multiple awful tattoos, and and an artist's affect that was less genuinely artistic and more exhaustingly practiced. He was sort of like Bug from Uncle Buck but minus some weight and plus some disapproval from my family. The disapproval I speak of came not from Zack's appearance, my parents have always been very accepting, sometimes to a fault, of the people my sister and I have chosen to date, but from his complete disregard for my sister's needs and the sense of entitlement he felt he had to date her. Aside: I love my sister dearly and although I am anti death penalty, I know that were anyone to ever do anything terrible to her I would want to murder the bejesus out of him. Clear enough?
Being college students and particularly strained in the pocketbook (Sound familiar?), Zack and his buddy decided to do work at an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet before attending a cookout at another friend's house. Apparently, the General Tso's Chicken was of particularly tasty quality that day and Zack consumed literally all he could eat. He and his friend were politely asked to leave by the restaurant's proprietors who afterwards undoubtedly rethought their business model so close to a university campus.
Stuffed to the gills on General Tso's delicious chicken, Zack and company made their way to the aforementioned cookout and immediately began to chase their affordable and delicious feast with multiple bottles of Shiner Bock. I was shocked later to learn that a rousing game of volleyball was also played at the party (who knew hipsters played volleyball?!), and about an hour or so in, General Tso, Shiner Bock, bumping, setting, and spiking collectively served as the impetus for some low grade intestinal cramping.
As I've said before, as with any good I Shit My Pants story, or Greek tragedy for that matter, impending doom could always have been avoided were it not for the hero's hubris. Zack could have left the party at the onset of his intestinal distress and violently evacuated his bowels in the privacy of his own home and Odysseus could have elected not to tell Polyphemus his real name and avoided being cursed by Poseidon, but arrogance is a powerful intoxicant and shit happens. Literally.
Zack instead elected to down another few beers thinking, foolishly so, that his discomfort would pass and a party marked by his early exit wasn't a party at all. Another hour or so passed and Zack finally felt the steel fisted squeezing of his lower abdomen that marks the beginning of an uncontrollable and immediate expulsion of the contents of one's bowels. It was go time.
Zack sprinted to the only bathroom in the house and found it occupied by another partygoer. Affecting his coolest I'm-just-waiting-calmly-for-my-turn-in-the-restroom-nothing-to-see-here stance, he tried to flex just the right muscles to avoid unleashing hell in the middle of the living room and managed to do just that long enough for the bathroom to become vacant.
Once inside, he hurriedly locked the door, sprang to the toilet, and began to struggle with his belt. At that time in Austin, proper hipster aesthetic necessitated the wearing of a scout belt with a completely unnecessary amount of slack in it. This required the wearer to cinch the belt tightly and prevented the smooth release of the sliding bar in the buckle. In normal situations involving waste elimination this is a minor inconvenience. In waste elimination situations involving General Tso, Shiner Bock, and volleyball, this is what we refer to as a "perfect storm".
Zack managed to get his pants (he was wearing no underwear, another hipster habit) to half mast or, for the more graphically inclined, half moon, before General Tso exacted his revenge. Without getting into too much detail, Zack's pants, legs, shoes, the toilet, and a generous percentage of the floor were covered in a fetid fecal eruption.
After a good few minutes collecting himself, surveying the damage, and trying, as calmly as possible, to convince the multiple partygoers impatiently waiting at the restroom door that he would be out momentarily, Zack hopped in the shower pantsless and washed himself from the waist down. He also had to wash his shoes. Seriously.
Aside: My Brother-in-law, the man lucky enough to eventually marry my sister and one of the best guys I've ever known (he's been a great buddy since 6th grade), is a naval fighter pilot. Pilots have a phrase for people who manage to stay cool and collected in awful situations that made perfect sense to me the first time I heard it because of this story. *Ahem* He's really got his shit in one sock. Zack had it in both shoes, his pants, and all over the floor.
After toweling off, he used the same towel to clean the toilet and the bathroom floor. He then disposed of the irretrievably soiled towel and his socks in the waste basket under the sink. At this point, those waiting for the bathroom had given up and returned to the party. Zack cracked the door and waited for his buddy to pass by and then, in a panicked voice, demanded that his buddy find him pants and quickly. Not knowing why Zack needed pants, his buddy leaned closer to the door and started to ask for clarification but was then assaulted by the caustic stench escaping from the cracked bathroom door. Without further question, he wheeled around and went searching the host's bedroom for some trousers.
Unfortunately for Zack, who stood well over six feet tall and weighed all of 140 pounds soaking wet, the party's host was a short, portly fellow. Any normal person would have cut his losses at this point, cinched the ridiculously fitting pants, and beat a path home. Zack decided to return to the party. Questions like Why did you change pants? Where have you been? Why are you barefoot? and Why are you carrying your shoes? were not enough for Zack to deprive the party of his company. What finally shamed him enough to leave was a question that was asked only after the central air kicked on in the house. I remember when I was a kid hanging out in my room and my mother was cooking chocolate chip cookies in the kitchen. I would have no knowledge of her cookie baking until the air conditioning would turn on and the vents in my room would gently emit the aroma of freshly baked deliciousness. This was the opposite of that. The question in question? What the fuck is that God awful stench?
Zack grabbed his buddy and told him it was time to leave. Now.
Like I said, a perfect parable. Take advantage of a good thing. Create a stinking mess. White wash your fuck up. Pretend nothing happened. Leave. Zack never got his shit in one sock.