In college, picking up the check for somebody else was usually an indication that you lost a bet or you’re trying to get into someone’s pants. In the business world, picking up the check is a sign of status. The bill always goes to the highest ranked person at the table. On Maggie’s birthday this was far from the case, but I still felt a wave of self-gratification as I placed my credit card over the thirty-something dollar itemized receipt.
“You really don’t have to do that.” Maggie pleaded.
“I know.” I replied as I folded my arms across my chest and posed for an imaginary Manager of the Year picture. “I want to.”
As our group of colleagues left the restaurant, Samantha, who was sitting on the other side of the table, couldn’t stop staring at me. It was as though she was in awe of the way I treated my employee to a meal. She couldn’t help but gaze upon me as my body radiated with kindness and compassion. As she approached me, she hesitated like she was not worthy of being in the presence of a business god.
“You have a brown stain on the ass crack of your trousers.” She whispered.
I froze. My eyes scanned the room to see if anybody else had noticed. They didn’t. Everyone was laughing, chatting and grabbing a mint from the tray next to the door. I couldn’t wait until we got into the parking lot to find out what was on my pants so I chose, right then and there in the crowded Italian restaurant, to discretely run my fingers down the center of my butt. Nothing. I started to panic. By the time my colleagues had left the building, I was stealthily turning around in circles trying to see my rear end like a dog chasing its tail.
I decided to drive home to change instead of going back to work. I didn’t know what this mystery brown spot was, but my mind did what it always does and began to fear the worst.
I pooped my pants.
I didn’t know how or when or why, but I was certain of it. Perhaps when we surprised Maggie that morning I got so excited I just went without realizing it. Or maybe I had started aging at such a rapid pace that defacating myself was going to become a regular thing from this point on. I would have to invest in diapers.
Before I was potty trained, I used to walk into my parents room, stand next to a nice potted plant and go to the bathroom. When my parents asked what I was doing, I would reply, “I’m doing my work!” It brought me great discomfort to imagine me doing the same thing in my office as a 27-year-old man.
As I was driving, I tried to calm myself down by coming to terms with the fact that my mind tends to over-exaggerate things. Most times I’ve feared the worst about something, I’ve been wrong.
For instance, there was this one time my dad was visiting me in Ohio and the little old lady on the first floor asked him for a ride to the supermarket right down the street. They had recently took away her license. The supermarket was an easy walk, but not for somebody in her condition (being old). My dad, being the man that he is, accepted and they got in his car and left.
A few minutes later, he returned.
“Ready to head to dinner?” He asked.
“Where did that woman go?” I responded.
“She’s at the store.” He said. There was a pause. “You don’t think she wanted a ride back, do you?”
I didn’t see that woman again for four weeks.
In my vivid imagination, she died just outside of the checkout aisle with a bag of groceries in hand, waiting for somebody to help her get home. Or she hitched a ride with a serial necrophiliac who had her locked in a cage until her time came. Or she was walking home and stumbled upon a street gang who initiated her as an honorary member so long as she proved she could take a life. That recurring vision of her popping a cap into convenience store clerk was fresh in my mind even as I arrived at my apartment to change my pants.
I was down to my boxers as soon as I stepped into the bathroom. That’s when I got a glimpse at the “poop.” It was dried. It was crusty. It was on the outside of my pants. It was…
“Chocolate.” I said to myself as I took a nice whiff.
To this day, I’m not sure where or when I sat on a candy bar. Maybe it was at the restaurant. Maybe it was in my office. I didn’t stick around to think. I just put on a clean pair of pants and left.
As I was leaving, the old woman on the first floor peeked out of her apartment as she does on occasion to say hello.
“Are you home from work early today?” She asked.
“Nah.” I said. “I had to change my pants. I sat in chocolate.”
“You get used to it.” She replied. “Hey…are you going past the K-Mart?”