Today, for the first time, I’m writing down the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to me. (At least up to this point, I don’t claim to know what embarrassments the future holds!) It happened when I was still a young boy, and I’ve thought about it nearly every day since. It’s to the point that I believe this incident has and always will shape the way I live my life in relation to other people. This story takes place, for the most part, in the public bathroom of a church.
I don’t remember very much about the church, except that it was brown. Very brown. Brown walls, brown carpet, brown pews. I also don’t remember my exact age, but my family was still living in Colorado at the time. That tells me I was definitely younger than ten-years-old and probably older than five. And I had a really upset stomach.
I would get really bad social anxiety stomach aches growing up, even when I was just going to school. To worsen things, if I had eaten something that my body wasn’t really feeling the vibes of, then my organs would throw a #anusisoverparty. The net result was me on a mission to the bathroom—in this case, the bathroom of a very brown church.
The bathroom was also brown, with one urinal and one stall. One stall with a broken latch. Was that going to stop me? It couldn’t, because things were happening that couldn’t be stopped. Fingers crossed that it would be a brief excursion, I took my seat. I took my seat right as the bathroom door swung open and another boy my age walked in.
At this point, I was holding my breath, praying to go unnoticed. The church service was ongoing, and ostensibly, the bathroom should have been empty. Holding my breath wasn’t keeping noises at bay, though, because noises were HAPPENING. I started to sweat. My heart was pounding. Then, I hear the other boy’s small voice say something to the effect of, “Are you okay in there?”
Cornered, I had to speak up and tell him that it was only an upset stomach, but while I’m talking, the bathroom door opens again. Immediately, this second person felt like a malevolent presence. I would find out shortly that he was an older boy, by a few years, and somewhere in my brain I remember him being related to the upper brass of the church somehow. I can’t confirm that second part, though. All I know is that he immediately commented on the obvious signs of an in-use bathroom stall—things currently out of my control—in an unnecessarily aggressive voice. The younger boy laughed a little, like he didn’t want to but felt he had to.
Then the stall door opened. The older boy had smacked the door with an open palm, let it swing open to reveal me on the toilet, and let it slowly creak back shut. And then he did it again. And again. He started to laugh, forcefully laugh, and the younger boy soon joined in. I asked them to stop, and the older boy said, “Stop what?” This went on for what felt like a half hour, but it was most likely closer to a few minutes. Afterwards, laughing side by side, the two boys left. The older boy never even went to the bathroom.
Tears in my eyes and unable to comprehend what had just happened, I finished up and got out of there. I have no memory of the rest of the evening, and I never said a word to my family or anyone else until I told my wife a little while before we got married. Who would have believed me, that two boys had watched and laughed while I was having uncontrollable diarrhea? I chuckle sometimes when I think back on the story now, but there’s also a small voice deep inside my head that asks me never to remember it again. That’s why I’m writing this, to get it out of my head.
Ever since that day, my goal in life has been to never make someone else feel the way I was made to feel in that small, disturbingly brown bathroom. However, I didn’t learn from the broken latch situation. When I was a teenager, a woman walked in on me while I was using a gas station bathroom in the middle of a road trip… Honestly, I’m really finicky about making sure the bathroom is locked in my adult life, even at home, and I’ve just this minute had a revelation about why. Cheers to that!
Summer is winding down, everyone. 2020 will be over soon. Stay safe, stay healthy, and if you got something out of this terrible tale, then please subscribe for more or share it with a friend!