Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Blessed recession

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There are a few joys in life that surpass all others.
The joy of realizing Christ died for you and loves you unconditionally.
The joy of seeing your bridegroom waiting for you at the end of an aisle.
The joy of holding your precious child for the first time.
The joy of watching the water in the toilet rise, rise, rise, oh no, it's still rising, oh no...and then...recede. Blessed recession.

The toilet in our master bath is a little bit capricious and I have an affinity for too much Cottenelle Ultra and this, my friends, is a bad combination. Today, despite my unworthiness, Mr. T granted me some grace. Whew. Just as I started to get all the magazines out the way and pull up the carpet I saw the glorious recession. And the Flashdance song immediately rushed into my mind... What a feeling, bein's believin', I can have it all, now I'm flushin' for my life....
So completely converse with the joy of potty reprieve is the feeling of absolute dread when the waters don't recede. I wonder how many prayers have been offered to the Creator of the Universe at workplaces and boyfriend's parent's homes and Christmas parties to please, please, please dear Lord, please don't let it overflow!!

To this day, every time I survive such a nightmare, I suffer a flashback to the Most Embarrassing Episode of my pre-adolescence. Call it Post Toilet Stress Disorder.

It was 1982, I was in seventh grade, and all I wanted out of life was to be Popular. And in order to be Popular, you had to be at all the right Boy Girl Dance Parties. That Halloween, I was finally invited to a party at the Popular Laurie Cohen's house. Most of Laurie's Popularity was due to the unsubstantiated rumor that she had 52 Polo shirts hanging in her closet. Which made perfect sense to me.

That year Halloween fell on a Sunday so this party was held on a Sunday night. The problem was that I was bussed across town to a magnet school and my mom had no desire to drive 45 minutes on a Sunday night to pick me up from the party in the same neighborhood. Amazingly, she relented to allow me to spend the night at my friend Elyse's house. On a school night. Rather miraculous.

Elyse and I dressed as babies in footie pajamas, and carrying our baby bottles, went to the party. Three boys asked me to dance to "Open Arms" or "Faithfully" by Journey, or was it "I'm All Out of Love" by Air Supply? Anyway, I was so nervous the entire time, and nervous stomach = the need to poop. But the only bathroom that Laurie's parents were letting us use was right connected to the den where everyone was dancing to "Come On Eileen," so there was NO WAY I was going to go in there and jeopardize my long-awaited shot at Popularity by stinking it up! I waited. And waited.

Once we got back to Elyse's house I beelined to the toilet and after three hours of waiting...well. You can imagine the potty was full. I flushed. And then...

The waters, and their contents, rose...and rose...prayers went up...water + stinky contents went up...more desperate prayers...water continued to rise...over the bowl...oh no onto the floor...all over the floor...

I wanted to DIE.

All I could do was run to sheepishly tell Elyse, whose immediate question was, "Is there %$& in it?" to which I had to squeak out an absolutely mortifying yeah.

Elyse and her brother had moved with her mom down from Michigan. At this time in Texas, you couldn't throw a stone without thunking a Michigan refugee in his funny talking head. But her mom's reasons for heading south were more than just economic. She was about 32 years old, with two young children, and her husband had just left her and his kids for - you ready - a 19 year old roller derby queen. I kid you not. I remember her mom as always being a little cranky. Now I realize, heck yeah, she was cranky! Now I know the poor thing was so depressed and overwhelmed she could barely see straight. She was trying to raise two cranky, depressed kids on her own in a strange city, so unsurprisingly, her discipline was a little bit lacking. One of the results was that Elyse and her little brother Jeff cussed in front of their mother, which I was totally aghast and utterly intrigued by.

Elyse ran downstairs to tell her mom's hated live-in boyfriend (depressed crabby moms often don't make the wisest decisions) about the mishap and I hid in her room, begging the earth to open up and swallow me. As usual, the earth disappointed. Hated live-in boyfriend got the toilet fixed and crabby mom cleaned up the mess. Then cussing little brother wrote in his ten year old scrawl:

Don't
sh%$#%
in this toilet ! !

on a piece of paper and scotch taped it to the bathroom door.

Did I mention I wanted to die?

Although I lived the next couple weeks in mortal fear that Elyse would tell the whole school about the incident, she proved her friendship by keeping it to herself. Whew. Because that story would have blown all chances at Popularity.

Twenty five years later, I am sharing it with the world. Things change! Oh, so happy not to be in middle school!

If you have a most embarrassing moment, go write about it, and share the link in the comments! Because shame loves company :)

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