Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Sitting in the backseat of my father's car, on the way home from a day in Ontario, my brother leans to one side, lifts a cheek, and farts in the direction of his girlfriend.

She does not seem fazed.

I am in the front seat. I turn around and stare at him. "Adam!" I said. "Don't fart on your girlfriend! That's not nice!"

He farts again.

"You should be careful with that," I say. "You seem like you're pushing a little too much."

"He always does," his girlfriend says. "I'm always telling him 'Don't push! DO NOT PUSH!'"

"That's because I've pooped my pants three times in the last year," Adam says.

"What now?" my father says.

"Oh my God," I say.

"It's true," my brother says. He's delighted with the sudden turn in the conversation. Moments before he'd been sulking because he had gone off on an angry rant about some of his friends who were getting married, and the rest of us in the car had told him to shut the hell up, to stop getting so angry, to stop getting so worked up because he was going to have a heart attack. What bothered him the most was that we didn't agree with him, and he kept trying to make his point by raising his voice and repeating exactly what he'd already said.

"Okay, George Edward," my father said, invoking my grandfather's name. It's well known that my brother is my grandfather in lots of ways, both physical (looking at a picture of them at the same age is downright eerie) and emotional (neither can control their outrage, which they simmer in often).

"Yeah, George," I said. "Zip it back there. Enough out of you."

And then my brother really became our grandfather. He huffed and sighed and thrashed a little in the backseat, even when his girlfriend reached over to soothe him. He had himself a twenty second tantrum and then threw himself into the sulking. And this wasn't the first time. Half an hour earlier, he'd gone through the same cycle when he breathlessly transitioned from a lecture on how to make French onion soup into a lecture on gay men and how he's okay with gay men, how he's on their side, how he's in their corner--unless they're "gross about it"--and this, of course, prompted me and my father and Adam's girlfriend to tell him that was a bit homophobic and he better evaluate his attitude. Then he Georged us, yelled, huffed, thrashed, and sulked.

But now--now!--there is finally something on the table he's ready to talk about again, and that something is poop. He sits up a little straighter, squares his shoulders. "Want to hear how I did it?" he asks. "Want to hear how I pooped my pants three separate times this year?"

"No," I say.

"Yes," my father says.

"Okay." Adam cracks his knuckles. "So, the first time I was at work. I was closing up for the night, and I was sweeping the aisles, and I decided to let one go. I had really bad gas that day, and I needed to let some out. So I relaxed and just went for it. I blew out a really long, really loud fart. But at the end, there was a little surprise waiting for me."

"Oh my God," I say. "You pooped your pants at work!"

My father is laughing. He is bent over the steering wheel and laughing.

"One of the other times was just ridiculous," Adam's girlfriend says.

"How was it ridiculous?" Adam asks.

"You were standing three feet from the toilet when it happened!"

Adam grins. He laughs. "Oh," he says. "That time. Yeah." He pokes his girlfriend in the side. "I was in the bathroom getting ready for the day, and I was firing one off at her, but things got a little out of hand. I pooped my pants so bad there was no saving them."

"Good thing your mother doesn't do your laundry anymore," my father says.

Adam chuckles. "Oh yeah," he says. "That's true. She'd be finding little stink pickles all over the place."

"So was it anything like what you found in the bathroom today?" I ask.

It had been an eventful day in the public bathrooms in Port Dover. Early in the afternoon when my brother and father went in for a bathroom break, Adam came out real excited, real would up.

"You will NOT believe what I just saw in there!" he said.

My father started laughing. "Hush," he said. "Be quiet. Say it quietly. You don't know who it was."


"What?!" I said.

"You're kidding!" Adam's girlfriend said.

"No," he said. He pointed back at the door. "Some guy shit himself so bad, it was everywhere. EVERYWHERE. And his jeans were there, wadded up on the floor of the stall. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine pooping your pants that bad and abandoning ship?"

Of course, that wasn't the end of the story. Hours later, after we'd finished our buttery perch dinners at a picnic table on the beach, my brother went back to the bathroom. When he came out again, he was shaking his head.

"Jesus," I said. "Now what?"

He made a face. "Someone put his hands in the shit," he said, "and spread it all over the walls in there."

But now, my brother is telling his own story, his own pooped-his-pants-unexpectedly story, and I want to know if it is anything the same, if it was of the magnitude of what happened in the public beach bathrooms.

"No way," he says. "It was gross, but it wasn't THAT gross."

And then he turns his head toward the window, stares out into the Canadian fields that are still dotted with long-abandoned tobacco drying houses. A dreamy expression settles on his face, and it's easy to tell that he's thinking about his lack of bowel control and how it isn't as bad as the guy who cut loose in the public bathrooms, but there's a glimmer of something else there in his look--it's a little like he's impressed, a little like he's jealous that he doesn't have that story to tell the next time we're all gathered around a dinner table.


Jason said...

"That's because I've pooped my pants three times in the last year," Adam says.

"What now?" my father says.

I think that's the most awesome sequence I've read all year.

Kristin said...

A) Love the new blog design! LOVE IT.

B) I clapped and squealed when I saw that you had blogged.

C) Jesus. F*cking. Christ. I can't believe what I just read. That was hilarious and totally disturbing all at once! It makes me wish I had a brother and be glad to be an only child BOTH.:)

Jess said...

Jason--"What now?" is my father's favorite phrase at the moment, and it's universally funny after any statement. It was really funny then.

Kristin--Thanks! I slaved over the design. I had three or four different ones I was tinkering with. I like this one a lot, and I'm glad you do too!