“Durchfallsabend bei Omi und Opi”

Of all the great songs on my album of survival at those innumerable family sleepovers, there’s that especially creative yet shameful one that shall forever be stuck in my head. It’s true. There are times when I still have difficulty with the guilt from that evening. And even the slightest gesture, like the mailing of a greeting card and a chocolate bar from the lady’s grandparents, makes it all too real again. Because one thing’s for certain, and I don’t care who you are: it’s never easy when you’re faced with having to cover up an evening-long affliction of diarrhea at Grammy and Grampy’s house.

It was Easter 2009. We thought we’d get cute and spend the weekend at Omi and Opi’s (Grandma and Grandpa’s). Pack some clothes. Rent a car. Do the whole hey-I’m-the-grandkid thing. Just the two of us, a young couple on a sole mission of getting spoiled with hearty German food, holiday chocolates, and sightseeing accompanied by stories of a simpler time. Besides, Heinrich and Inga needed the company. They live far away from it all in the historic town of Bautzen, where Easter egg making and horseback processions are just another day at the office. There would be no better time for a visit than on this jubilant occasion.

Even from the moment we put the rental car in park, Omi and Opi were all smiles. They were happy to have us and enjoyed our company, and we enjoyed theirs. Things were swell. Life was good in Bautzen. But wait a second. Fast-forward to the part where I’m sitting at the dinner table after having engulfed a large portion of Omi’s husky casserole, which presumably had twice the fat content of four McDonald’s Big Macs and four Value Meals combined. My stomach’s reaction to this violation was certainly not what I was expecting. It was as if I had been swallowing multiple cans of baked beans three times a day for the last week. Not good. And, Opi soon learned of my misfortune when I casually mentioned to the lady that I was having issues, which he attributed to the kid having a nervous stomach. But what he didn't know was that I was on the verge of soiling my pants—right at the dinner table, on Easter weekend—regardless of whatever well-meaning diagnosis I was given.

Just as virtual paranoia was about to set in, we were anyhow kindly excused from the dinner table since we were finished sluggin’ back Omi's home cookin'.

"I'm gonna go upstairs," I whispered to Kathleen. I squeezed my butt cheeks together and indiscreetly exited the kitchen. It worked. But I had to make it to the stairs so I could use the upstairs bathroom. I made it but don't recall ever quietly running up a flight of stairs so quickly to meet a space that would be my hangout for the duration of the evening. Of course, any private thoughts I had regarding the full nature of my condition remained private. I really didn't feel like grossing out everybody else with news of some sudden case of the poops.

Round one was fine. I felt relieved. Time for the cover-up, though. I scoured the bathroom for some type of refreshing scent spray, but to no avail, so I grabbed a nearby bottle of aerosol deodorant and unleashed its wrath. Ah, great. Phew. “No evidence of anything,” I thought. I then left the bathroom acting like I’d been sitting on a porch deck drinking iced tea under a warm summer breeze. "Hey babe," I said, as I tiptoed further into the guest bedroom where Kathleen was snuggled up with her laptop.

"Hey, my grandparents wanna have some wine with us downstairs. They wanna show us some photos from their vacation," she said.

“Okay,” I said, and then gave her the details on my condition.

"Just have a little bit of wine, okay?"

"All right," I said.

There. We had an agreement.

About an hour into the photo-viewing chat session with the grandparents, I started to feel really uneasy again. I only had but a sip of wine and was under the impression that I was managing my stomach noises and silent farts as best I could. But I was wrong, so I feigned like I was tired and wished everyone a good night, telling them I was going upstairs to bed.

What came after that was nothing I want to relive again. My memory is a little bit cloudy from the horror of that night but I believe I spent nearly the rest of the evening alone on the toilet—trying to remain cognizant of the frequency of my flushes and my use of toilet paper—with torturous breaks from pooping spent in the bedroom doing nothing but hydrating, slow breathing exercises, and desperate self-talk. At one point, I let out what I believed to be a far too loud "Oh man, please make this stop" appeal to the bathroom wall that I’d been staring at as I sat on the commode literally shitting my life away.

Hours passed and the grandparents and lady were still downstairs enjoying their time together. And I was still upstairs, my ass making noises one only hears at the zoo. I was embarrassed by the loud sounds that could potentially be heard by anyone with halfway decent hearing. And I also felt naked, because there's nothing worse than being in a situation like that and not being in the comfort of your own home, with nobody to call on for help. What was I supposed to do? Run downstairs and tell everyone that I was about to evaporate due to the most severe case of diarrhea I had ever know. Crying like a broken man and yelling, "fire in the hole" was not an option. I had to pull myself together, tell myself that I had resolve, and that I would not falter. So I did.

It was a trying night, but I pushed forward with as much courage as a man could have under those set of circumstances. And even while my partner lay asleep beside me as I got up in the middle of the night to retreat to the downstairs bathroom for my call of duty, I remained vigilant. I minimized my flushes, creatively muffled any horrific sounds as best I could, kept an open ear for the footsteps of any light sleepers, and essentially covered up my business, as only I knew how.

And eventually, I finally got the peace I deserved.

Going forward, however, there’s just one thing I can hope for: that when I look Omi and Opi in the eye, I’ll manage to forget the shame I felt on that dreadful evening.

Comments

This is incredibly funny. I'm pretty sure my neighbors heard me laugh. I also thank you for adding humor to what i am sure many of us, at some level, have experienced at one time or another with food intolerances and irritable bowel issues.

"We are laughing!" as Will Ferrell would say.
 
Thats a great story, so relatable, and, well why not discuss our favorite topics!!

My brother told me he came back from China on the airplane with Food Poisoning and I had issues trying to process what that might have been like. I decided to not ask any detailed questions.

Life's Absurdities, I call it. Might as well stay laughing, this is ridiculous.

Imagine if you were in one of the cultures wherein Guests use a downstairs bathroom right off the dining room area. They are not allowed UPSTAIRS.

I just deleted a list of inappropriate locations for Guest Bathrooms.....
 

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