Last September, I embarked on a Midwest Tour, if you will, via the Megabus. From Cleveland, I bussed to Chicago, met up with old college friend Bigler, then immediately transferred to the next bus to Minneapolis. I knew I was in trouble as soon as I pulled out of the driveway on the way to the bus stop in Cleveland, for I had to move my bowels. Problem is, when I am in transit -- or really any place away from home or work (it's easier to go when I'm getting paid) -- I cannot force myself to go. I lock up. Something about the transient nature of travelling.
And this was to be a trip of crashing on couches, not one of posh (or even ratty) hotel rooms with which I could garner a sense of place. My window for relief expired as I wandered around Tower City in downtown Cleveland, only to find the public restrooms gated and locked. I could not bring myself to go on the bus, though there was continual pressure in my nether regions throughout the night.
Upon arrival to Union Station in Chicago, early in the morning, I made an attempt in an Amtrak restroom. No such luck. The cellophane sheathing around their toilet seats felt unfamiliar and I was thus unable to relax. I metBigler shortly thereafter and informed him of my dilemma. He advised trying again but I could not bring myself to it for I knew the end result: nothing.
So we went to Minneapolis, met up with another college friend Erin, and again I could not find relief. Somehow I knew, pulling out of my driveway late Tuesday night, that this would be an ongoing problem the whole trip. I deliberately attempted to set my innards in motion by drinking lots of coffee and smoking cigarettes and eating lots of Asian food but nothing in Mpls did the trick. All the while I felt a constant weight building down below, like pressure pumping into an innertube.
By Friday evening we were back in Chicago -- Bigler's home -- and trying to track down a place to eat with Bigler's girlfriend, Ashley. We eventually settled upon a place and I ordered a falafel sandwich with lots of veggies. Still nothing. We went to a bar, I had a few draught beers. The next morning, for breakfast, we went to a diner and I had a rather large omelet with broccoli in it and several mugs of coffee. I think you know where this is going.
Afterwards, we went to the McSweeny's store, 826CHI, and goofed around in there. I began to feel a not-so-good sensation mounting, like indigestion. Though this was like indigestion on growth hormones. I hoped amongst hopes that I could make it back toBigler's apartment. We were just about to leave, but just for shits (no pun intended), I decide to look at a book low on the shelf. As I crouched down, an extremely pungent fart escaped. It was silent; deadly. I immediately locatedBigler and Ashley, safely out of harm's way -- for now. I tried to act casual and slowly close the book and replace it on the shelf. ButBigler and Ashley had moved next to me and they knew something was wrong. How could they not? Think of the combination: falafel -draught beer-eggs-broccoli-coffee. They commented on the stench and moved far away. Ashley looked particularly disgusted. We left hastily, for there were others in there and it was only a matter of time before they caught it.
I apologized a lot on the way back. Ashley said that if there was such a thing as glasses that could make stink visible, I would have been a solid puff of green, indiscernible from the flatulence I produced. Anytime you would go back to 826CHI, there would be a dark green smudge on the floor near where it had happened. A child, learning to read, would innocently open the book I had been browsing and vow to never look at another written word ever again.
Bigler went on to say that I put McSweeney's out of business for health code violations -- a dangerous amount of methane gas. One flick of a match would have sent the place up in flames.McSweeney's never recovers from the bad PR and eventually goes out of business. I effectively murder one of my most cherished publications.
Suffice it to say, the whole thing was embarrassing. But the wheels were sent in motion for an exodus of the evil that had accrued within me the last five days. Upon arriving atBigler's apartment, I set up shop on his commode -- inside a bathroom of his private residence, which provided me some comfort. The act took close to a half hour and by the end of it I was tired. But it had triggered an imbalance and my digestive track was not quite right the rest of the trip. I could not hold in anything, quite terribly. It became the exact opposite of my previous problem, culminating in a rather nasty episode involving a bar bathroom in Lincoln Square during a German Fest. But that is another story altogether.
I took the overnight Megabus back to Cleveland and upon my arrival, everything settled back into place, for I was home, and my bowels knew it. They are very perceptive like that.