ed-I wrote something rather heavy on Oscar and wanted something different to represent me. The St. Louis Arch turning 50 was the perfect excuse because I already wrote something, and let’s face it, you people don’t deserve anything new. I spent a good 20 minutes looking through my archives for the story, but I didn’t find it. Instead of dropping the laziness and writing the Arch story that may or may not have ever existed, I’ll give you this story from 6 or 7 years ago that I had 100% completely forgotten about until my search today. I’ll write the Arch story someday, by the time it turns 100. I promise. Until then, enjoy this terrible story that is pretty clear why I didn’t share with the world, and also completely unrelated to the arch.
Oh, it’s a completely brutal, terrible, awful read with things you will not want to know about. If you are really going to read this, you have to read all the way to the end, or it won’t be worth it.
I try hard to do well for my girlfriend’s special occasions. I really do. I can tell you right away that my efforts have almost been a universal failure, but I am always determined that finally this time would be different. Of course a few weeks ago, on her birthday, was no different. I am fully certain that had almost anything else besides the truth happened then she would have had a far better day, and here I am thinking of me getting hit by a bus.
The first thing you should know is that we had just started dieting. Now dear reader, that that’s different than actually needing to diet. You know without me writing it what happened, but I’ll say it anyway. My girlfriend looked in the mirror, and instead of seeing the truth, that she he has less padding than a feminist on “No Bra Day,” She instead decided that she weighed so much she herself was slowing the rotation of the planet. And I, as her boyfriend, cheerily went along with her. I knew what I was getting into when I decided to date women. I was now on a diet.
Of course, this is the worst time of year you could possibly diet. No one wants to miss out on the high fat foods you can always depend on getting whenever the calendar hits Halloween, or Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or New Years, or Valentines Day, or President’s Day, or any number of Jewish Holidays, or Wednesdays, or the anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death, or The Feast of Fabulous Wild Men, which happens to fall on January 12th, and no, I am not kidding.
As you can see, when you throw in the fact that we both have birthdays around these holiday gorge-fests, that this was a horrible time to start a diet. Nonetheless, that’s what we did and as a result when her parents shipped her a gorgeous and delicious white chocolate frosted red velvet cake, which we received the day before her birthday, I can tell you exactly how we felt: miserable. We agreed to limit ourselves to only having one piece each and then we would throw the rest away. Of course, we couldn’t even hold out until it was her birthday as we immediately opened it up and had our piece, and left it on the counter in case any of my roommates wanted some.
Then it hit her, “Oh No!” she said. “I’m not even going to have cake on my birthday!”
It was true; there was no denying it. Per our iron clad deal, which neither of us could break, she wouldn’t be having another piece of cake, not even on her birthday.
“This is better for us,” I said, “This will help us the rest of our lives; it’s bigger than a birthday. You can do it.”
She solemnly nodded her head. She knew it was for the best, but it wasn’t even her birthday yet, and already it sucked. I would have to make up for it big time.
Only I couldn’t. Just as we were waking up so that I could take her out for breakfast, by far her favorite meal of the day, I got a call from my family. At first it was a normal call, and then there were a few disagreements, and finally, about 16 seconds into the conversation, it became an all out over the phone brawl. It was sort of like the Civil War, only much bloodier, and with a much longer needed recovery time. Ken Burns has already lobbied for the documentary rights. It was a disaster that would reverberate through my life for weeks. This day was ruined. It was 9:00 A.M.
Our breakfast wasn’t about her; it was about me whining. She said that we should just leave the restaurant at least 15 times, but I insisted that we stay. After all, it was her birthday, and on someone’s birthday they should have the joy of being unhappy in public.
Breakfast ended up being no fun, and after some half-hearted attempts at hanging out in public and actually doing some things for her birthday we went home just to spend time together. Our goal was to hang out in my room watching T.V. and to let things calm down for a little while, but that’s not what happened. What happened was that she asked me to get her a glass of water, which I happily agreed to do. When your girlfriend wants a glass of water, after you have ruined part of her birthday, you jump at the chance to please her.
Only, when I got downstairs, something caught my eye:
The red velvet cake.
“No, I shouldn’t do it,” I thought. “This would be emotional eating, which is very bad for you, and besides, it is her birthday, and this would be really unfair of me to do. Not to mention that she is sitting upstairs waiting for me to give her some water. I can do this. I can be strong. I don’t need the cake.”
Now that I had settled that matter I looked around to see where the fridge was and noticed that it was nowhere to be seen. This is because I was in the garage. I was in the garage because I was scooping cake into my mouth with my bare hands like a bear, and I did not want to be caught. I had failed.
I spent 15 minutes by myself eating cake in a garage while my girlfriend sat alone on her birthday waiting for a glass of water. What would I tell her? “Oh, honey. The USUAL water wasn’t good enough for you. So I went to the MOON and got you ice crystals and melted them down. Remember, these aren’t your usual 30 degree or so cubes of ice, we are talking about the moon here. I think they were colder than absolute zero. You shouldn’t be mad, because frankly going to the moon and back in 15 minutes is rather remarkable, and proves that I was trying my hardest to return as quickly as humanly possible.”
I was pretty sure that wouldn’t work. I had nothing. I threw away the rest of the cake (which was basically a box) and got a glass of water and went upstairs, where I told her that I was sorry it took me a long time, but I had to go to the bathroom. She seemed pleased with this answer. I assume mostly because anytime it takes me only 15 minutes to use the bathroom is a remarkable, and maybe it proves that I really do love her.
Luckily, after relaxing for a little while, I was able to calm down. Or, at least I was able to act more calmed down. Once again to try and salvage her birthday I decided to take her to dinner and a movie. By the way, I realize it seems like I didn’t plan anything for her birthday, but I did. It’s just that absolutely nothing worked out, and so her ultimate birthday gift from me can be summed up as “good intentions with no follow through.”
Anyway, the good news is that it had been forever since we had gone out to the movies, and that she was really excited about it. Perhaps all was not lost after all.
We arrived; we bought our tickets, and we got in line for snacks. It was then, though I felt bad for doing it, that I had to leave her alone in line because I needed to use the bathroom. I mean, I still gave her money to pay for the snacks of course, but I all of a sudden really had to go right then.
I’ll make this part quick for you. I went inside. I chose a stall. I sat down. I finished my business. I got up. Everything went to Hell.
O.K., I have to tell you a back story. Many years ago when I was in college I was driving the 2 1/2 hours home to see my parents when another driver rear ended me. It wasn’t a bad accident; it was more like a bump, but something about the accident hit me just right and I felt a sharp pain in my stomach. Luckily the pain quickly passed, and I couldn’t feel it at all anymore as I drove home.
When I arrived at my parents house I pulled into my driveway and my dog jumped on top of me on his way out of the car. This was the first time since the accident that I had felt any sort of pain, but it was a strange pain, that felt almost distant. I stepped out of my car and my body started swaying from sudden dizziness. I had to hold on to the car to not fall over. I remember noticing my seat was red and I touched it, and saw that the wetness was red, and I became very confused, which is when I passed out on the concrete.
My parents found me soon afterwards thanks to my dog who was sitting politely at the back door as though to say, “Now that my master is dead, can I live here?” They found me, an ambulance was called, and off to the hospital I went.
It turns out that the accident had caused, or opened up some sort of ulcer type thing in my colon, and I had slowly, and numbly spent my drive home bleeding. It’s very pleasant to think about, and even more pleasant to share publicly, believe me. The point of this is that’s it’s something that doesn’t really heal. It gets better, that’s for sure, but it won’t stop completely. For years I continued having problems, especially in stressful situations, though in the last few years it is almost no longer a concern. Of course, the concern is still there. It’s still a constant decision of mine, where I will have to have considerations such as “while I would really like that bucket of wings, I know that spicy food might split my innards open, and cause me to explode blood throughout the restaurant.” At this point I will usually find some sort of compromise where I only eat half a meal and wind up rolling around in bed in massive amounts of pain and calling in from my job for a few days. It works for me.
Which brings us back to the bathroom stall. I should have known better. I should have realized that I was in danger because of how much stress I had been under that day. Still, as I stood up I was shocked. There was blood everywhere. Everywhere. Blood, blood, and more blood. It looked like someone had butchered a particularly brown wiener dog. It was horrible.
I started to panic. I felt instantly lightheaded. It dawned on me that I was about to pass out in a public restroom. It isn’t any one’s dream to be found dead with their pants down in the handicapped stall of a public restroom.
That’s right, I was in the handicapped stall. I always choose the handicapped stall. Oh, they can keep you from using every single good parking space that has ever existed, but they will NEVER be able to stop me from pooping in a luxury stall. I have heard and argued with many that have said that the handicapped stall should only be for the handicapped, but those people are idiots. Look, I have one go around on this planet, and I do not intend on spending any of it in a lower class bathroom stall. I love the bars to help pull me up and down. I love the roomy amount of space. I love the personal sink and mirror. Not to mention that there is always a hook to hang whatever you need, and the stalls are usually lined up so that 5 year-old kids can’t look in the crack of the door to see if anyone is in there.
It’s a dream situation, and why shouldn’t I take part in it? My bare butt should not have to have substandard conditions. My quality of life should not be lowered. My bathroom experience should not be handicapped.
And besides, you spend a little time with your pants down on a bathroom floor in a blood covered stall and tell me if that doesn’t make you handicapped. If this is how we are going to judge things, I should have towers and castles of bathrooms built just for me. They should make me some sort of cloaking box so that I can pee in the street whenever I want. This is the only just thing to do. Of course, you know our “leaders” won’t do a thing about this.
Which is why I found myself losing consciousness on the least clean floor of all time. It was bad. I thought about my girlfriend. I thought about how I couldn’t tell her about this. I mean, my God. It was her birthday. She was outside with an armful of popcorn and candy waiting for me once again. I couldn’t bear to tell her a thing.
But I had to act soon. I knew I could lose consciousness, and I knew I couldn’t leave the stall. I didn’t have a choice. I had to do it. I called 9-11.
I called, and I sounded pitiful. Please help. I’m in a bathroom at the movie theater. Blood everywhere. Don’t tell my girlfriend.
I spent the rest of the time on the floor trying to pull up my pants and not pass out completely. In just a few minutes I heard them bust into the bathroom and it occurred to me that the stall was locked. I wondered if I had enough strength left in myself to unlock the bathroom door, when within seconds they started removing the swinging door from its hinges. It was impressive. Apparently they have done this sort of thing before, because they had a real plan from the get go. I knew that if I died that night, I would do so with the comfort that I had seen something really cool. My last thought would be, “Not bad!”
They barely spoke a word to me as they put me on their stretcher. The comfort of them being there gave me an odd amount of strength and I became aware of my surroundings. We went wheeling out of the bathroom and I lifted my head just enough to see my girlfriend. I saw the look of horror on her face and knew I had to say something to make her feel better, or explain the situation, or anything at all.
I think I might have sort of smiled. I can’t be sure. She stood up popcorn in arm and started to chase me down, when she stopped and grabbed her candy before running after me again. It’s a well known medical fact that in times of emergency one must not forget their Snow Caps.
We went into the ambulance and she got to ride along. We couldn’t talk because they were doing so many things to me such as taking my blood pressure and giving me oxygen, but there was a paramedic whose only job seemed to be to keep her calm. He asked her what movie we were going to see, and she told him we were going to get dinner for her birthday. “Oh!” he said. “Happy birthday!” Indeed.
We arrived at the emergency room and I was thankful that I had oxygen the entire time. I knew that surely after losing that much blood that I would have gone under by then had it not been for those tanks. I knew that being awake and alert was key so that I could tell the doctors my history.
The next 20 minutes felt like a blur. I was turned one way or another. I had to endure tests and procedures I never want to think about again. I had to answer questions like “Are you O.K.?” with a tube up my butt, which seems like a silly question under those circumstances, but still I said that I was. Perhaps the ability to lie is a good sign for your vitals.
Then suddenly it stopped. Everyone disappeared. I was behind my own curtain laying alone, exhausted, and wondering if I would need a blood transfusion. Finally, a doctor appeared and asked me with a look of confusion on his face what had happened again.
I told him everything. I told him of my past. I told him how the day had been stressful. I told him about laying in the bathroom feeling like I was going to pass out.
“The thing is,” he said, “it’s not blood.”
“Yeah, it’s not blood.”
“Well what is it?”
“Umm, I’m really not sure. Have you had anything with food coloring in it?”
Oh my God. The red velvet cake.