The names have been changed or omitted to protect the innocent.
I realize IBS is no laughing matter. In fact, there are plenty of things that are funnier. Take, for instance, a Saturday that started like any other. There I was, slapping wigs around when a hunger pain hit. It was mid morning and I’d had nothing for breakfast. You see, I’d met a friendgirl for drinks and appetizers the night before. What should’ve been a couple of cocktails and a few bites turned into ten years of therapy crammed into three hours and one of everything from the small plate menu. The next morning, I figured I’d had enough calories to fuel a small Delta town, so I skipped breakfast.
Shortly after ten thirty, I became ravenous. My stomach began to rumble and gurgle loud enough for clients to hear, on the other side of the salon. “More coffee.” I thought. Later, I checked for snacks, but there were none to be found, and the half a pack of gum I’d swallowed hadn’t helped a bit. “Another coffee.” I said to my assistant.
Eventually I made it to my last client, but my enthusiasm was short-lived, as I realized she was in for a Keratin Treatment. For those who don’t know, a Keratin Treatment takes a couple hours, at least. In the beginning, I saw this service as a break from the monotony of cutting and styling hair all day. But now, after eighteen months and countless Keratin Treatments performed, it had become dreadful. I smoothed and dabbed, combed and sectioned, as my stomach processed cup after cup of coffee. By the time I was finished flat ironing and setting with hairspray, my face was red, my heart rate elevated and I could almost read people’s minds.
I suggested to the client, if she was free, we might check out the new Thai place for a late lunch. She, being a fan already, took me up on my offer. I clipped along Lakeland Drive at a hurried pace, as hundreds of other drivers bobbed back and forth in the lanes ahead. My impatience grew and I’m ashamed to say I honked at an elderly woman in a Buick.
Once inside the restaurant, we chatted about the menu and what looked good. My client’s sister had met us there, and was eager to try something new. It was soon my time to order and I waffled for a bit, then landed on a spicy chicken dish. The server, with caution in his voice said “You like spicy?”
“Sure” I said confidently “Bring it on.”
As they picked at appetizers, I ate my soup and declared it “delightful.”
When the entrees arrived, mounded high and steaming fresh, our eyes grew large like children on Christmas morning. My client waxed poetic about her Thai Basil rice and I was more than happy to sample. The sister however, declared her dish inedible, as it was too spicy. Plucking a bit of chicken from her plate, I said “Oh honey, that’s not spicy.” and shook my head out of pity for her weak palette.
Then, as the sisters looked on, I took the first bite of my dish. Before it reached my tongue, the heat coming off my chopsticks singed my nose hair. As the tender morsel of chicken came to rest on my tongue, steam began to waft from my ears.
“How is it?” said my client, who wasn’t eaten meat in over a year.
“Isss goooth.” I forced from my scorched mouth.
With each bite, the burn crept out of my mouth and began to claw it’s way up my face and down my neck. Just as my nose let loose a free flowing stream of my liquified brain, I poked in another mouthful. “Thispppp Isss show gooooth!” I offered.
I reached to undo my collar button and loosen my tie, as tears streamed down my face. Much like a kid who’d been dared to jump from the roof to the trampoline below, I continued to eat.
My client, staring in disbelief, asked “Honey, maybe you should stop for a moment? You’re starting to sweat.”
“Hoooo no, isss fiiiide. Isss sssoh thelishusss!” I replied.
Four glasses of un-sweet tea later, they took their to-go boxes and I scooted to my car. As I pulled out of the parking lot, my stomach began to make growling noises I’ve only ever heard from a pissed off feral cat. “Oh, dear god in heaven, please don’t let this happen.” I prayed silently.
Again, absent minded drivers seemed determined to take turns blocking my hurried commute home. I tried not to focus on the increasingly alarming sounds from my gut, but as I looped onto the interstate, sweat dripping from my brow and pooling at the small of my back, the contents of my belly began to flip like an unborn baby.
“GET OUTTA MY WAY!!!” I screamed, as I launched my car from one lane to the third one over. “IM GONNA SHIT MYSELF, YOU DUMB FUCKS!!!”
A false sense of security settled over me as I exited on to Pearl Street. With only four blocks left, I felt confident about getting home safely. Until, that is, my sphincter began spasm as if in an epileptic seizure. “Holy shitballs…” I whispered, as I caught the Congress Street red light, “I’m not gonna make it.”
I live on the twelfth floor if a recently renovated hotel. That, combined with a parking garage designed by a drunk five year old, makes getting from car to apartment challenging on a normal day. Today, however, was unlike any other I could recall.
I stabbed at the elevator button like Joe Pesci going at a goon with a ball-point pen. I’d noticed someone exiting their car as I whipped into my parking place and I’d hoped to beat them to the lift. As is my luck, it was my next door neighbor, and she made it just as the doors opened.
“Hey Eddie, how’s it going?” she asked.
“”Great!” I replied, I little too enthusiastically.
“Big plans for the weekend?” she pressed.
“Nope!” I chirped, as I crossed my legs and shifted my weight.
“You okay?” she implored with a worried look.
Then, the elevator stopped as recorded voice announced “Twelfth floor.” and I darted into the hall. “Okay! Later, bye!” I exclaimed as my sphincter gave up on me. Now, we’ve all heard what it sounds like when a baby relieves itself, right? That mix of squishy fart, muffled by a diaper? Imagine THAT sound, repeated with every step, as I trotted down the hall.
As I mouthed “Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit!” over and over, like some sort of mess defying incantation, I fumbled for my keys. Once inside the safety of my own home, and as the pets scattered for cover, I let out a cry that might have scared the the Union soldiers back across the Mason-Dixon Line. Utterly defeated, thoroughly ashamed and mad as a wet cat, I sat backwards on the toilet and rested my head on my arms, atop the tank, whimpering.
Another “Life Lesson” learned in true Outlaw fashion, that sometimes bad things happen to good people, after great Thai food.