Saturday, December 17, 2011

The dark at the end of the tunnel

Coca-Cola has had a promotion going on now for a few years called My Coke Rewards. It’s actually an amazing promotion. Every time you buy a box or bottle of any Coke product you receive a code that you can enter on their website. Each code gives you a certain number of points which are then used as currency to purchase items from a wide assortment in their catalog. You’re probably thinking “oh, how neat…a way for you to get a crappy Diet Coke branded hat.” Well, you’re kind of right. You can get a crappy Diet Coke hat. You can also get an even crappier Fanta hat if you want. But you’re kind of wrong too because they have had some really amazing prizes available. In the past few years I have “purchased” a brand new pair of skis (which I sold on craigslist for $180), binoculars, a speaker for my mp3 player, a travel DVD player for use in the car, a yoga mat, gift cards to restaurants, and a few other things I can’t remember at the moment.
Well, the first thing I tried to get with my points was a Wii. It was the pie in the sky prize and it took a LOT of points to get it. I think it took 5600 points to get the Wii. Now you need to know that you get 10 points for a code from a 12 pack, 20 points from a 24 pack and 3 points from a lid to a bottle of any size. So if you’re going to get that Wii you need to have a plan…I had a plan. First and foremost I asked everyone I knew (including, at the time, my MySpace friends) to give me their codes. Most people didn’t think the promotion was worthwhile to pursue for themselves so I started getting codes from all over the place. It was fantastic, but I don’t know THAT many people so I needed other sources of codes. That’s when it hit me…why not check the local bottle/can returns at the grocery stores? It became a treasure hunt for Taela and me. We even started to make it a family outing to go looking for codes.
On one particular family outing we hit the local WinCo where I dropped Taela at the bottle return and stayed in the car with the kids. As I said…family outing. Taela came back with a few caps and box tops and I was pleased as punch. How pleased is punch? I have no idea. But as I was sitting in the car I felt a little rumbling in my tummy. We decided to press on to the next stop which was Fred Meyer. Freddy’s is awesome because their bottle return is at the outer reaches of the parking lot so homeless people use it constantly. Do you know what homeless people don’t have? That’s right…homes. Do you know what else they don’t have? That’s right…internet access. So what’s a homeless guy going to care about codes you redeem on the information super-highway?
So I’m driving the family down 82nd avenue toward Freddy’s…maybe a 5 minutes trip and about halfway there my stomach starts rolling over some more. I need to poop and I need to poop very very soon. “Taela, I have to take a dump.” Caleb laughs. Tenley laughs but only because she’s 2 and she does whatever her older brother does. I don’t laugh. We drive 30 seconds more and I start to struggle a little bit. I’m clenching down pretty hard and I’m able to force the urge back up there and stave off the inevitable for a merciful moment. I look at Taela and say “I’m going to park as close to the door as possible and I’m going to run into the store. You have the keys and the kids.” She thinks I’m being funny. I’m not laughing.
So I get into the left hand turn lane and wait for the signal. The pain starts coming back. I swear to God that traffic signal stayed red for about 12 minutes before we finally got the green. I think I yelled something at the signal itself along the lines of “why do you hate me!?!?!?!?!”. Finally the light turns green and I just floor it. I don’t remember if the tires squealed as I made my way into the lot but if they didn’t it was a miracle of modern science. I slammed into a parking spot near the door and damn near flew out of the car.
Decision #1: Run and risk losing lower body control or walk and lose time? I chose to walk briskly. I couldn’t remember exactly where the restroom was…as evidenced by my having parked at the entrance near apparel when the toilets are over by electronics. I never looked back at the kids or my wife, I just started walking toward the customer help desk trying to clear my mind, trying to remember where the bathroom was…singular focus…you can do this. As I neared the desk I remembered where I needed to go. I needed to get past the desk and over toward the other entrance. Fantastic…except…
Decision #2: Stop and clench down or make an all out sprint? I chose to stop and clench. This was a tough one. I must have squeezed every muscle in my body. Have you ever had to lift something that was so heavy you didn’t know if you could? Standing there I didn’t know if I could. I stood absolutely still and to the outside observer I probably looked as though I were seizing in some fashion. My toes were curled into cramped little balls in my shoes. My face was sweating. My fists were so tight that my fingers ached. And I was successful to the point that not even a turtle-head of poo slipped out. I had forced that urge back up once again but I knew I was running out of time. My body was going to explode and it was going to do it soon. I continued walking maybe 10 seconds longer and found myself under the “Restrooms” sign. You’ve got to be kidding me…
Decision #3: The hallway to the bathrooms was about 3 miles long…do I stop and clench again or just make a dash for it? At this point I was so close that I had to make the dash. It’s a scientifically proven fact, actually proved by Albert Einstein himself, that the nearer you are to the toilet the less ability you have to hold it. Porcelain is literally a crap magnet. When you see the light at the end of the tunnel your body goes into full expulsion mode. Why? I don’t know…ask God when you’re dead. So I start jogging down the hallway. I’m keeping control. Nothing coming out yet. I fart a little and it eases the pressure. I’m relieved. The end is in sight and I’ve held it all together thus far. I round the corner and find the men’s room. I’m literally praying to the Lord that there will be an empty stall. Stall #1 is occupied but #2 is open. I make a sprint to the open door…
Decision #4: Close the stall door or immediately drop my pants and risk someone seeing me take a crap? Now at this point I’m pretty confident I’ve made every correct decision. If this were a Choose Your Own Adventure book I’m thinking the best possible ending has me pooping in the toilet and I’m right there at the climax of the story. I’ve chosen wisely. Yoda would have been proud. I’ve used The Force and it’s led me to exactly the place I want to be. As I enter the stall I already have my belt undone and the top button on my shorts is also open. All I need to do is unzip, drop and relax the 1400 muscles that are now starting to cramp up. Remember that there is a guy crapping away in the stall next to me too so the choice is clear. I will close the stall door, latch it and then crap. This will cost me about 2 seconds of time and when was the last time that 2 seconds killed anyone?
Well, I don’t know when 2 seconds killed anyone, but I can tell you the last time 2 seconds caused a 30 year old guy to sh*t his pants. Decision #4 will haunt me forever…I latched that damn stall and frantically tried to pull my pants down, but as I started pulling my body simply couldn’t resist the magnetic pull of the bowl any longer. I felt the warmth start to spread as I desperately tried to wrangle those shorts down. It was as if time slowed. I could feel the release, the humiliation, the failure, I distinctly remember giving up. I had lost. Somehow, in a heroic last effort, I was able to stop the flow long enough to get my pants to my ankles and sit my bare, sticky cheeks down on the filthy seat beneath me. I was an indescribable mess but at the same time I had never felt so relieved. In that moment I was so relaxed it was like an out of body experience. It was ethereal bliss. There were simultaneous feelings of abject horror and zen-like nirvana. Unfortunately these bizarre contrasting feelings were fleeting and my nose reminded me that much of my body and clothes were covered in diarrhea.
I did what I could to clean up with toilet paper. I took off my boxers and after the guy in stall 1 left I hurried over and threw them in the garbage. I then grabbed some paper towels and wetted them and did what I could to, at the very least, not look like a guy who had just crapped himself. For those of you out there who don’t believe in God you should know that I just so happened to be wearing dark brown pants that day. If that’s not evidence of our creator I don’t know what is.
Finally it was time to make the walk of shame. I came down the hallway hanging my head. I carried myself a little differently, in part because I now had a shameful burden to carry with me and also because certain parts of me were now swinging freely as I walked…unencumbered by the now disposed of underpants. There at the end of the tunnel were Taela and the kids. The kids were laughing. Taela was smiling. “Did you make it?” she asked jokingly. “No.” She laughed. I didn’t laugh.

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