In my last posting, I explained how, as an IBS sufferer, I have identified (and probably visited) just about every possible place to stop and poop in the city in which I live. But what do you do when that enormous database is useless? What do you do when -- God forbid -- you're in unscouted territory?
Let's take a look.
A professor had invited me and a number of my classmates down to his house for Texas chili. I liked the guy and, even though I was going skiing the next day, I figured, "Why not?" Free food is good food in the eyes of most graduate students, and it would be a nice, relaxing change of pace.
As an IBS sufferer, I was not unaware that I was incurring some risk by eating bean-laden chili the night before a road trip. (IBS does this to you. Every decision, no matter how small, must be considered in light of the question, "What if I gotta go BAD?" Thus, chili eating is a rather larger decision for IBS sufferers.) But I blithely decided that my IBS just wasn't going to control my life, and I headed down to this guy's house with a sense of merry optimism.
What can I say? This chili was absolutely the most delicious, hearty, spicy, bean-laden, wonderful thing I had ever put in my mouth. Words cannot capture it, and one bowl was far from enough. I had two bowls -- with cheese. And another two bowls. Then another. Then, even though I wasn't hungry anymore, I had another two bowls just because I liked it so much, easing each one down with a cold beer and some black bean nachos. I left stuffed, happy, and not a little buzzed.
The next morning, with no apparent pooping activity on the horizon, I drove up to the apartment complex where I was meeting my friends. The idea was that my friend Burt and I would drive this gaggle of Brazilian women (who were on exchange at our school) up to a ski resort, where we would spend the day. I was aware that I would probably need to poop (the pump, I knew, was well and truly primed), so I had already thought up some excuses for why I had to drive in case I had to stop and go.
When I got to their apartment (Burt hadn't arrived yet) the Brazilians were all getting ready. Suddenly, I felt a pang. Nothing drastic; just a little tweak, letting me know that some advance planning might be in order. No problem, I thought. I'll just wait until the bathroom -- which could only be accessed through the bedroom -- is vacated. I settled down, picked up a magazine, and kept my eye on the bedroom door.
It was a comedy of bathroom occupation. As soon as one was out, another was in. If the bathroom were unoccupied, then somebody would be changing in the bedroom. I felt like Tantalus as sweet relief from an increasingly uncomfortable situation was constantly snatched away at the last instant. "Oh, so sorry Paxton, I know you have to go but Mariazinha will just be a minute longer." Click. And on and on as I shifted and turned down offers of assorted warm, caffeinated beverages.
I decided that the smart move at that point was to deal with a critical situation before it became a crisis (IBS sufferers know what I'm talking about). I stepped out of their front door and went down to the pool area. Nope, no bathroom. How about the game room? No, locked. All right, what about the management office? No luck. They are closed on Sunday mornings.
I smiled grimly. The lifetime score was Long and Pointy: 839, IBS: 0; and I wasn't about to give IBS point number one that day.
All this walking had stirred the pot, and I was nearing that critical-situation-becomes-a-crisis inflection point. I hobbled back to the apartment to see if the head was available. No. I was on my own.
Suddenly those umpteen bowls of chili decided to make a break for daylight. My knees buckled and I clamped my cheeks in a frantic only-chance-left kind way; this was General Santa Ana vs. The Alamo, but this time The Alamo was going to win. I stumbled out the door, knowing that I had to come up with something fast.
On a hunch that I think came from a kind of bathroom RADAR (call it BRADAR) developed after years of similar situations, I headed to a trash chute room that I had noticed earlier. There it was! A closed space, a tall trash can with a bag in it, and a chute.
But could I do it? There was no lock! If somebody caught me crapping their apartment building, I had no doubt that the cops would be called, and I would be considered the in-house laughingstock (or worse) of my department. No lock, but no other options, either. I took the trashcan, leaned it up against the door to buy time in case somebody came knocking, and dropped trou.
The result, in both volume and consistency, looked like aftermath of a bomb attack on the consolidated manufacturing facility of Hershey's Chocolate Syrup. I am to this day convinced that I must have been massively constipated for at least a week before this event; and that not only did the chili, nachos, and beer come out, but it pushed a week's worth of junk food out along with it. I looked into the trashcan (where there was a bag, thank God) and I swear my contribution to the cause was two inches deep across the entire bottom of the can. I was actually kind of proud, despite the traumatic circumstances.
I quickly tied off the bag, sent it down the chute, and went back to my friends' apartment. Not even their suspicious questions about where the hell I had been could disturb my sense of physical and mental relief.