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The Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diaries Vol. 1

Before we really get to know one another, let me clarify here. Irritable Bowel Syndrome isn’t having to shit all the time, it’s just that every time you have to it’s a dire emergency. We’re talking an 8 minute grace period TOPS to find the nearest toilet or the closest thing to it before the floodgates burst. You get one warning gurgle and that’s it. No fighting it, no second guessing it, IBS does not play around. As someone who’s constantly taking public transportation throughout the day, this can get interesting.

Couple quick footnotes so everyone can follow along better. Since every IBS shit is urgent you’re always gonna be on the brink of shitting your pants, and since every IBS shit is urgent you’re always gonna be potentially having explosive diarrhea in your pants. By the way, DMs are open girls. You also need to remain calm and maintain pace while you’re on a manhunt for a toilet. If you run or change stride you’re only poking the beast within. A little IBS joke we like to make is calling it the calm before the storm. That’s why it is imperative that you use those 8 minutes wisely before the firecracker farts come. The shot clock is running and you need to at least get in position to fire off a buzzer beater. So regardless of what you’re doing when you feel the Amber Alert, you’re forced to push it off to the side because chances are it’s less important than not taking a dump in your jeans in the middle of public in your mid-20s. All right, now that that’s cleared up we can get to the gross part.

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This one goes back a couple years ago after I had just transferred schools to Columbia College, an art school in Chicago. No one reading this knows me so I’d like to specify that I’m not a hipster, but also if you’re the only non-hipster in a school of hipsters then you’re actually the hipster. It was my 1st semester there and I had to start waking up at 6AM to make it to the train by 6:30. Even if you’re not familiar with Chicago’s underground L train system you can still understand I’m not boarding the Polar Express here. It’s basically a mobile AirBnB for the homeless and an outlet for crackheads at this hour. No offense to either. Well one morning I accidentally fell asleep on this train. Proud survivor. Woke up after, did a quick body scan to see if any vital organs had been taken, and carried on. Being my first near death experience, I decided from now on I should probably eat something before leaving the house to keep me from dozing off.

The next morning I have a quick bowl of cereal and hop on the train. About 10 minutes into my commute I feel my stomach plotting and scheming. Mayday. I wasn’t used to eating that early so my body sounded off the tornado siren a couple seconds later. We now have 7 minutes and 52 seconds until I shit myself, so I’m gonna have to hop off prematurely at the next stop if I want to stand a chance here. Most places with a public restroom aren’t even open at this hour so we may have to improvise, a.k.a. shit in a downtown alley at 6:45 in the morning.

This is not the time nor place but rarely is it ever. That’s why you always go into an IBS restroom expedition with the mindset that you’ve already pooed your pants, that way you’re prepared for the reaction you’ll be receiving from that specific crowd and in that distinct location. In order to do that we lay out all possible repercussions if we were to have ourselves an accident at this particular time and place:

Potential witnesses: 1 woman – 23-25 years of age, long blonde hair, easy swipe right. 1 man – 40-70 years of age, appears to be without a home, napping across from me. Can’t stress how beneficial it is to have a hobo near you after you shit yourself. Easy pawn.

Pants situation: Got my good jeans on. Potentially $50 in damages. I have some Old Spice in my backpack in case of emergencies, but the visible aftermath is where they get you. It’s bound to breach the boxers layer if you’re sitting so my best advice is to always shit yourself standing up. Shorts season requires a whole different level of strategy, but we won’t get into that until the day we have to.

Current form of transit: The train. Not ideal but I’m okay with not operating any vehicles right now. Once you enter the last 2 minutes of the grace period you’re unable to drive anyways.

Nearest Restroom: No clue but not close. Already asked Siri for stores that sell pants near me.

I get off the train and some obese guy cuts me off right before the escalator. Guy is an absolute storage unit and I can’t maneuver around him on either side with the stampede taking place around us or else I’m getting Mufasa’ed. He gets on the escalator and stands still, creating a road block for anyone thinking about squirming/sprinting past him. Unreal. I’m about to leapfrog this guy. CANNOT be blocking the express lane like that. It was like a car not pulling over for an ambulance. We get off the escalator 25 seconds later, basically an hour and a half in IBS time, and now everything needs to be strictly business from here on out. Instantly I start demanding Siri for some answers. “Restaurants near…uh, restaurants with a BATHROOM near me.” “I’m sorry, what was that?” FOCUS BITCH. “RESTAURANTS with a BATHROOM preferably VERY NEAR ME.” “Okay, here’s what I found —.”

Closest one open is a breakfast joint. Can’t remember the name but no free ads anyways. It says it’s a 5 minute walk from here and I only have 5 minutes left in me so could be a kamikaze mission we’re dealing with. Not sure if this is the right play call but I gotta atleast get the snap off in time, so I start power-walking towards that direction as the cold sweat phase approaches. 4 minutes remaining in the grace period.

I see the restaurant in the distance and I have about a minute to make it there before I have to enter survivor mode. I get there and basically drop kick the door open. I immediately cup my hand above my eyes and start scanning the area for a Men’s sign. I see that little male stick figure in the flesh, the grandfather bitmoji himself, and I could cry. At last. It was like we were both running towards each other with our arms out, slow motion in the middle of a prairie. But in front of the bathroom is an employee mopping, mean mugging me down.

I can tell by the way he’s eyeing me that this guy might be a problem and a problem this guy is. As I’m about to pass him and finally get to the bathroom he goes, “Sorry sir, but our restrooms are for paying customers only.” Don’t call me Sir then proceed to call me a bum. “You can use the bathroom if you sit down and order first.” Well then you better keep that mop out buddy. I look directly into his eyes and say “You’re going to have a lot more to clean up if you don’t let me use this bathroom.” I was referring to him having to mop up my feces from the floor. You guys probably got that. But employee of the month over here was unaware of just how badly I had to unleash, or the fact I even had to, so he assumed I was referring to him having to mop up his own blood if he didn’t let me use the bathroom. I can sense his fear but I ragret nothing. Can’t stand there explaining and apologizing anyway, clock’s running out. I promise the man I’ll buy something after I destroy his restroom and he settles for the plea.

The 1st thing I notice when I go to open the bathroom door is that there’s no door handle. It is a push door. This indicates this is going to be a multi-person bathroom. I walk in the bathroom, see a stall waiting with open arms, and also a white male, early 40’s at the urinal. I can tell he’s clearly a dad right off the bat—the white New Balances, T-shirt tucked, oh and his adorable little daughter standing beside him waiting for him to finish peeing. She does NOT need to be here for this, but I don’t have the strength or talent to hold it in anymore. The dad knows something’s about to pop off in this stall and gives his daughter the Ned Stark brace yourself meme look. Of course I feel bad, but if you’re bringing your daughter in a multi-men’s restroom at a breakfast diner at 7 in the morning then you better be prepared to welcome her to the jungle.

I jump on the toilet and all Hell breaks loose. I tried my best to keep it quiet, but it was like trying to keep a terrorist attack subtle. 1st 10 seconds you couldn’t hear yourself think. There were farts of four different octaves going on. Ones nailing the C note, ones like only dogs can hear. After all of the mayhem there’s about 15 seconds of silence. During this time a dreadful smell fills the room. Never good when you can smell your own brand. I’m waiting for some sort of reaction from either of the two. I’m guessing this is the 1st time this little girl has ever been in shock and that she’s about to have some memories to suppress. When she’s older she’s never gonna want to step foot in a breakfast diner and she won’t know why. She finally pulls herself together and quietly says, “Daddy.”  Her voice is shaky as if she’s about to cry. What have I done? This toddler’s mortified. Her dad replies, “It’s okay, honey” and I’m pretty sure he kissed her on the forehead. They exit the bathroom as her dad promises to take her to the toy store and I finish up with my head down.

After I’m done I walk out and the employee says, “You’re gonna buy something now, right?” I shouldn’t even be held accountable for whatever I said to this guy back there because that was not my real self. It was like I was in the Snickers commercial pre-bite. But I’m a man of my word so I Steven Glasnberg it at this dump and wait 45 minutes for my food, making me an hour and a half late to a 2 hour class. Well played Irritable Bowels, let’s just threaten a breakfast diner janitor, traumatize a 3 year-old girl, then fail art school while we’re at it.

This was a “you won’t be so lucky next time, kid” type situation, but mission successful nonetheless. The battle was won but the war is far from over. Until next time.

@DannyJConrad