It was 3am and I was sitting in the stall furthest from the door in a communal summer-camp bathroom. I was practicing a deep yogic breathing exercise and praying to God that this time I would be able to take a shit. I was twenty nine-years-old and it had been exactly twenty four-hours since I had last unloaded, and I had a deep knot of dread that I wouldn’t be able to poop for the rest of this “vacation.” I made a promise to myself then and there that if I ever got married, I would demand that the first thing on my registry be a colon cleanse.
I was a bridesmaid in my best friend Margot’s wedding. For the ceremony and reception, Margot and her lovely fiancé, Andrew, had rented an entire summer camp in northern Michigan for three days.
It was a beautiful wedding. I was constipated for the whole thing.
I’m a very open person. Most of you know this as I’ve been pretty public about the gross parts of my own sex life. I’ve written about getting a tampon pulled out of me and I’ve already shared my anal-lingus story. I’ll even confess here and now that I have an ungodly amount of nipple hair. I have so much nipple hair, in fact, that sometimes I won’t groom them on purpose to keep me from hooking up with someone—the same way Bridget Jones wore granny panties in order to try and stop herself from taking her pants off. Of course, this never works, and there have been a couple of one night stands where I’ve rushed into the bathroom drunk and tried to rip out as many of those little suckers as I could, before going back into the bedroom and turning off the lights hoping the guy wouldn’t notice.
Despite how seemingly shameless I’ve been, I still have one embarrassingly neurotic habit that I’ve kept a secret for a long time: I can only poop in my own bathroom. This secret has kept me from staying over for breakfast at many a dude’s house. And when so many of my girlfriends complain that their man left the next morning in a hurry, I always think, “Well, he probably just had to go home and do a number two. Cut him some slack already!”
You see, I am literally anal retentive. But I don’t posses any of the qualities that a figuratively anal retentive person has. I’m not high strung or inflexible or worried about perfection. My old roommate was a figuratively anal person, and even kept an Excel spreadsheet of her grooming habits so she would know exactly when to freshen her roots and get her chin hairs threaded. I can barely figure out my TiVo.
Back in my stall in the woods, my exposed ass was getting eaten alive by the vicious Michigan mosquitos. I had moved positions from sitting to squatting on the toilet seat because I’d read somewhere this helped to dislodge things. It wasn’t working. I closed my eyes and tried to do my visualization exercise.
Before going to the wedding, I’d asked my therapist for advice on how to handle this delicate situation. She got excruciatingly quiet for a few minutes, and then told me to envision a crowd of loved ones, standing all around me, clapping and cheering me on. She’d said, “Close your eyes, and think about an audience of people, everyone you care about giving you a standing ovation.”
That night in the stall, I closed my eyes like she’d told me and tried to bring up an image of a crowd of comforting people. But just like when someone tells you to visualize everyone naked in the audience and then all you can do is imagine the one girl you know who has a perfect body (the kind of body that looks exactly the same when she’s sitting down as when she’s standing up) all I could do was imagine Brad.
Brad was the bad boy groomsman who had ridden his motorcycle all the way from Alberta to Grand Rapids. He’d shown up to the wedding with a black eye and very tight pants—pants that were so tight they confirmed his legend as a ladies’ man. It had been pre-determined by the whole wedding party that we would get together. After all, I was the sassy sex columnist, and he was the dude with the big dick—we were a perfect match! Then when we finally met everything went perfectly, and we flirted up a storm with each other. I wanted him with every bone of my body. And yet the last thing on earth I would ever want would be for Brad to witness me squatting on a toilet seat at 3am, praying that everyone was asleep so I could fart in private. I didn’t even want him to know that I farted in the first place.
Twenty minutes of squatting on the toilet proved fruitless. I gave up and walked back to the cafeteria where I pulled out the kale that was going to be used for the salad the next day. “Good roughage,” I thought. I wished I had remembered my smooth move tea, but I hadn’t because I’m not figuratively anal retentive. In fact, I’m such a flake that all I had packed for this very outdoorsy wedding was a curling iron, a pair of high heels, a tooth brush, my bridesmaid’s dress and a pack of condoms. My heart sank thinking about those condoms, I could forget about having sex with Brad. I was in no condition to be doing the dirty—either dirty.