I withheld a fecal explosion on the NYC subway from 210th Street to Columbus Circle, sweating like a terrorist.
I told myself that if I let my bowels go I would get out at the next subway station and throw myself on the tracks, and put an end to the painful physical and emotional blows of such indignity to the gut. I contemplated death’s ‘sweet release’ in a whole new darkness. I wanted to cry but my tear ducts could potentially start a chain reaction. If I held it all together, I might make it to a toilet and ‘let it all out’ — privately. Over the next hour, I manifested a zen state of intense concentration and supreme forgetfulness, maintaining vigilant bodily control while suspending all thoughts re: what knocked so insistently on my back door.
No one else I know remembers the last time they shit their pants. They were either too young or they were wasted. I can give you the date, time and GPS coordinates. After a night of G&ts (significant capitalisation, emphasis on the gin) and the stuffy confines of a Berlin bar prompted me to stroll down balmy streets where Berliners downed Berliners, my stomach all of a sudden gave way. Lightning cracked, I like to joke, and so began the shitstorm that came to define the subsequent two months of my travels.
I’m a girl. I’m not prissy or extravagantly feminine, but I wear make up and wash my hair and shave my legs and I like heart-shaped potatoes and cute socks and going out and gettin’ tipsy. My girlfriends aren’t particularly prissy either, when I told one that I needed a toilet like, Now, she directed me to a parking lot with a couple of shadowy shrubs. But shitting in the soil wasn’t okay, I needed a strong flush and a ream of toilet paper and, to be honest, some light to ass-ess the situation. About a month later, self-relegated to an all-night diner in New York, I sincerely thanked God for America’s disregard for eco-friendly flushes, the flood and drain stirring with spirit and wasteful, capitalist efficiency.
Your shit affects the way you feel about yourself and interact with the world. I became a hater, I became religious, I became anti-social and socially apathetic, and my dedication to these emotional and intellectual states followed the passing fluidity of matter (does anything matter anymore?) through my bowels. The subject ended up hating the object; I pitied the self and hated the body, then I grew fond of my ruined body and turned to loathing the recycled preoccupations of my thoughts. My intestines in systematic shock ensured the following days of constipation, and to those uninitiated to me, I was the angry asshole of Burrough’s Naked Lunch.
In two solid (uh-huh) months of diarrhea, I spent most of my time re-phrasing my condition to people whether I knew them well or not. I came home finally from traveling and my mom was under the impression that I had some sort of perpetual motion sickness, others thought I was about to vomit and it was difficult to imply that even if I didn’t spew, I might still be ‘sick.’ Young people seemed to think I was anorexic, bulimic or allergic, or I was just a big pussy when it came to partying.
Pooh has always been gross but funny, but for some reason in a poor state of health, these stools lose their schtick in the social consciousness. Is this because diarrhea is the condition of the weak, a faiblesse of the youngest and oldest, the dependent? Do we feel tremors in our concrete presence of being, when our stool is not solid, but diffuse or not at all? I might suggest that a solid shit is the floating log we cling to in the rapid waters of life’s long journey down the river.