Thursday, May 17, 2007

Dear HTT, you're going to have to find a really clever headline for this...

Dear HTT,

(Ok, so I'm way too lazy to set up an anonymous email account just so you don't know who this question came from, so you're just gonna have to live with knowing this about me.)

Today I shit my pants at work. All afternoon there was some gurgling going on in my gut as I sat happily working in my cubicle. Finally, I stood up to go to the bathroom and my ass exploded! My intestines did somersaults and it was not a silent affair. I have no clue how many people heard. I made it to the bathroom without being sighted but had to dump my undies in there. I got cleaned up and left commando-style. Someone came in as I was washing my hands; went into, then back out of, the stall I had been in. Poor thing! I sneaked out of the office without seeing anyone else. As I sit here typing I am laughing and crying at the same time. How the hell did I lose control of my bowels? Is this age? Disease? Is it gonna happen to me again? How can I face that person?

Just last week I was visiting someone in the hospital and had to listen to the patient in the next bed use a bedpan. I laughed about it and told my "horror" story to my friends. Is God punishing me?

Left My Dignity in My Shorts, Stall 1, Fourth Floor

Dear Dignity,

I might never read a more compelling opening line as long as I live. You pack a lot of drama into that short, declarative sentence with its bold active voice. Your second sentence? A thing of beauty. Look at the alliteration! And…and…”your ass exploded”? How vivid! Way to go, following the “show, don’t tell” rule!

What? You say I’m missing the point? Maybe I’m not missing it. Maybe I’m just too uncomfortable to address it. And that’s what people do. They change the subject and they don’t talk about that which they find awkward or dirty. (But for god’s sake, you can turn on Fear Factor and watch people eat fetid piles of fish guts and live hissing cockroaches and pickled cow colons. What could possibly be more disgusting than that? And what about the people who make complete asses of themselves on these reality tv shows? Talk about loss of dignity!) Anyway, the more people don’t talk about something, the worse that something becomes in our own minds. Have you ever been in therapy and worked up the nerve to tell your therapist something you thought was a deep, dark, terrible secret about yourself, only to find after giving it air and light that it wasn’t so horrible after all?

My point is not to tell you not to be embarrassed. I won’t patronize you. But I’d like to try to convince you that there’s nothing shameful about what happened to you. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that I doubt it’s even all that uncommon.

I’ve had two friends, besides you, relate similar experiences. Now, for the sake of argument---and my below-average math skills---let’s just say I have 10 friends with whom I feel close enough to share this level of detail about bodily functions. (Right, I’m all for making bodily functions less taboo, but I’m not saying anyone is likely to take out a billboard describing the details of their pants-pooping experience.) So, if 30 percent of my close friends have like tales to tell, how does this translate to the general population? I don’t know, but you are not alone.

Now, I’m not a doctor. Obviously. But unless you have other symptoms or this becomes a more common occurrence, I’m guessing that you were just so enthralled with and wrapped up in your work (circumstances I cannot, unfortunately, imagine myself in), that you procrastinated a bit too long. If we’re all honest with ourselves, I’ll bet most of us could recount some extremely-near misses.

As for your question about God, I’m also no theologian. However, I do believe that life is a long series of humbling learning experiences.

Hope you’re feeling better,


Anonymous said...

Irritable bowel syndrome can have symptoms of this sort... I know more than one IBS sufferer who has had this sort of thing happen, so you are not alone in having this sort of problem.

Anonymous said...

Ever heard the colloquialism about not knowing whether to shit or go blind? I think you made the right call.

Anonymous said...

Was there Indian food involved somewhere in this story?? Or was it the Kung Pao?

This does happen to a lot of people...I can think of three "shart" stories right off the top of my head. One friend with IBS (or, as she calls it, "I Be Shittin' ") and two who did not have IBS. Two stories involve the deposit soiled underwear in public trash cans. One had to deal with a soiled microfiber sectional sofa. My guess is this is not your coworker's first experience with this sort of thing.

BTW, anyone interested in buying a slightly used microfiber sectional sofa????