If you stretch my life experiences out into one giant timeline, the embarrassing parts would no doubt look overwhelming. The parts of my life filled with embarrassment are superseded only by the parts filled with love. And so, it is with anticipation that I share the following story with you, friends. Be prepared to lose any shred of respect you may still have for me. It’s a doozy.
Sadly, this story happened only 7 or 8 years ago. Which means, I was an adult. Not only an adult, but an adult that had already gotten married and had a child. But embarrassment, the second cousin to tragedy, seems to be no respecter of persons, or age. It was my first shift as the lead, or supervisor, on duty. I was nervous, because I genuinely wanted to do a good job, and because some of the people I was now supervising had applied for the position. Fourteen foster children and 6 staff members were all on my shoulders. No pressure. Except, as the day went on, it turned out that there was a lot of pressure, of the most unfortunate kind.
I don’t know what I ate, but it did not agree with me. For hours the gas built in my system. Well, why didn’t you go to the bathroom, you might ask. But at my work there is only one staff bathroom and the door might as well be made of rice paper. And I am not such a delicate flower. But if there is anything years of being spanked growing up have taught me, it is how to clench. And so I did. For hours.
Through sharp pains and dull. Through gurgles and discomfort. I kept my eyes on the prize. I knew that I would be leaving right after the kids ate their dinner, and going home to sweet relief. That kind of focus, and determination, came from years of practice. I could do this. This was my area of athletics.
Finally, dinner time had come. I could barely walk around the dining room to pour the children’s milk, the pain was so bad. But I made it. I placed the milk jug on the counter, a quiet thud of victory. The incoming staff came into the dining room to change us all out. I was home free. I walked towards the next shifts lead like a soldier who has just survived a grisly battle, and lived through it. Stomp, stomp, stomp. I placed one determined foot in front of the other.
I walked with such purpose that I didn’t even notice the three year old girl throwing her hot dog onto the floor in front of me. I stepped on that mother with everything in me, creaming it into the linoleum flooring. It became the banana peel to my looney tune, and I rode it. I flew up into the air, flipped over onto my stomach, and landed heavily. And literally knocked the wind out of myself. Only, I wish the wind I am referring to had come from my chest. I passed gas like my life depended on it. Unearthly noises and smells emanated from my body. All the while, I was unable to stop it. I looked around, at the children and staff, and wished I hadn’t. They stared, transfixed by my situation. My closest friend stood covering her mouth in horror and amusement, like she was embarrassed for me, and to know me. And still, I farted. I could not quit doing so, until every last vapor had removed itself from my digestive tract.
And so, I did what any self-respecting woman in my situation would do. I laughed. I laughed like a banshee screams. Crazed by my embarrassment, I laid on that floor and howled. My giant body shook as I laughed until I cried, still laying on the floor. Until finally, the tears and gas, and teargas, let up. And so, I got up, said excuse me as calmly as I could muster, and walked out the door.