Our kids often ask me and their dad questions about our lives before they were here. They want to know how we met, what we used to do on dates, where was our first kiss, when we decided to get married and have kids, how Mommy continues to get more and more awesome as the years pass — shit like that.
Recently, my oldest daughter and I were talking about how when you’re in a relationship and one of you farts in the presence of the other for the first time, you’ve reached the “I’m feeling so comfortable about our connection that I’m ready to share the noxious odor from the Thai food I had two hours ago with you” strata.
“Oh, god, I didn’t fart around your dad for months,” I told her, and with those words, a particularly humiliating incident occurring years before — one that could have easily changed the trajectory of all our lives — came flooding back into my mind.
The details, sensations, and emotions of this incident had long been forgotten, but then here they were again — in technicolor, almost tangible.
I couldn’t move. Or talk. Or blink.
“Mom?” my daughter asked. “You okay?”
“Give me a minute. I just remembered this one time when I thought I might lose your dad forever.”
“And it had to do with farting?” she questioned.
“Oh, my child. It was so much more than that. So much more.”
And then I gazed out a window all pensive and contemplative-like as I recalled the story for my daughter:
It was the winter of 1994, and although Garrett and I had known one another for several years, we’d officially been a couple for only a few months. Our relationship was strong, and I felt certain he was the man I wanted to marry.
When Garrett took a job in Atlanta, he asked if I’d go apartment hunting with him. He had several viewing appointments set up starting mid-morning on a Saturday.
We’d gotten absolutely shit-faced drunk the night before, but trying to be responsible young adults, we managed to get out of bed, change clothes, and head out to the car with the intention of keeping our appointments.
In all our dragging ass and hungover fogginess, we’d forgotten that Atlanta had been under a freeze warning the night before.
There was a thick layer of ice on the windshield. The roads were slick, and drivers were encouraged to stay home if possible. He had to find an apartment that weekend, though, so we moronically soldiered on.
We decided to go through a McDonald’s drive-thru for sausage biscuits and orange juice. Yeah, it’s a pretty nasty combination of pulpy citrus and whatever-the-fuck McDonald’s “sausage” is, but at the time, it sounded like a perfect antidote for my alcohol-soaked brain and body.
Garrett drove slowly and with great care on the icy road. We ate our greasy biscuits en route to our first apartment viewing. I felt like garbage, but I was so happy to be with him…until I wasn’t.
I’d say, oh, 12 minutes after I finished my biscuit, my stomach started to bubble.
I didn’t think much of it — probably just my intestines rejoicing over being served something other than tequila shots, I figured.
Soon the gurgling turned to cramping and that cramping turned into a critical and emergent shituation.
Now, I’d never cut the cheese in front of Garrett before. Hand to god, if I ever had to defecate when we were together, I’d have rather him think I was doing lines of cocaine in the bathroom than the natural process of crapping.
This is my mother’s fault. She taught me that there should be a certain amount of mystery between a man and woman, and part of that was ladies should only shit covertly, I guess.
I had no choice though. I knew I had to tell him that my asshole was about to erupt like the shit geyser equivalent of Old Faithful all over the doors, windows, and floorboards of his ‘89 Tercel.
At that point, I was compulsively shifting in my seat. Like, I couldn’t stop moving for fear that my bowels would think, “Okay, now is an okay time to release.” I was trying to find a position that might quiet what I knew in my heart was an out-of-control freight train heading straight to Dookieville.
It was time for me to speak up. This was not going to get better or go away. My fight-or-flight instinct kicked in. Shit was, literally, getting real real.
Me: “Hey, ummm, could you maybe pull over at the next gas station?”
Garrett: “Jesus Christ, are you okay? You’re pale and sweating. What’s wrong? Do you need to puke?”
Me: “Yes…out of my butt. That sausage biscuit was like an instant enema or something. I just…like, I really, really need for you to stop somewhere.”
Garrett: “Yeah, yeah, of course. Yikes.”
He pulled into three different gas stations. They were all located one after the other so we didn’t have to drive very far between them for me to be told THAT EVERY ONE OF THEM HAD FROZEN PIPES.
So, three times, I got out of the car, sweating like Satan’s ballsack and constricting my bunghole so tightly that it made me walk all weird, only to be told that, no, they can’t help me or my getting-more-desperate-by-the-second furious bowel quandary.
Three times, Garrett watched me waddle back to the car, shaking my head and dabbing my perspiration-soaked face with the sleeve of my Gap fisherman’s sweater.
At this point, I was crying. Legit, crying.
What options did I have? I could either pray that he had a wine stopper or a butt plug handy, or ask if he happened to have a full-sized Igloo cooler that held little to no personal meaning to him in the trunk of his Tercel, and if so, could I please ruin it while he looks the other way and then leave it in a ditch on the side of the road in Atlanta?
I knew that it was entirely possible that he’d be so appallingly horrified that I was seconds away from shitting on and around and under the cloth seats of his car that he might never be able to look at me the same way again.
Like, that fucking sausage biscuit could have been the end of us.
I wasn’t sure if it was his love for me or if it was because he didn’t want to have to deal with burning his car to the ground because I crapped it, but he set out to find me a working bathroom with the steadfast determination of someone really determined about something.
Garrett circled back to the same McDonald’s we bought the gut bombs from. He parked the car and ran inside. I stayed put, clawing at the upholstery and fogging up the windows with my dank body heat which only made my desperation and hopelessness more evident. I even wrote “Help me not shit my pants” on the passenger window.
I sat there begging the universe to keep my intestines from ruining what I was sure would be a magical life with this innocent man.
And suddenly, there he was: smiling and excited with a warm, heavenly glow all around him, or maybe I was losing consciousness or whatever, but he delivered to me the nine most beautiful words I’d ever heard: “Their pipes aren’t frozen! You can shit in McDonald’s!”
You guys, he drove me up to the door so I wouldn’t have to clench my asshole and duck-walk across yet another parking lot.
“Good luck! I’ll keep the car warm for you!” he exclaimed as I made my way to the bathroom where I’d spend the next 15 minutes of my life.
After I washed my hands, face, and armpits, I walked outside to find him waiting for me in a warm car with my favorite song playing.
“Oh my god, I’m so sorry about that. I’m mortified,” I offered, sheepishly.
“Don’t be! We’re going to spend the rest of our lives together farting it up!” he said.
That was 23 years, seven kids, and zero sausage biscuits ago.
So if you’re wondering about your future with someone you’ve been seeing for a while, might I suggest the threat of a cataclysmic intestinal evacuation in their car to see if they stick around or not?
And if they don’t, just shit in their car anyway. Fuck ‘em.
You deserve better.