After three days of vacating and shunning the rest of the world, my husband, the three J’s and I packed up the car, reluctantly left the tranquility of the Pacific beaches of southern California and headed back to the shrieking anarchy of everyday life in Phoenix. Our vacation, though not long enough, had been a total success. We were quite full of good memories, good food, bad food, mediocre food, seafood, a few gallons of soda pop and a higher than the FDA-recommended daily intake of salt water. In short, everyone was completely satisfied.
Well, actually, everyone else was satisfied—I, unfortunately, was backed up because I was too full of Social Anxiety Disorder to use any bathroom facility that didn’t have an official soundproof rating and where undoubtedly legions of human beings with nothing better to do had their earlobes plastered to the restroom door. To put it mildly, I was beginning to get a lecture from my abdomen—my #1 and #2 organs indicating that they were about to give birth. But I made up my mind that wasn’t going to happen until I got back to Phoenix because 1) roadside stops are few and far between on that stretch of highway and 2) guilt was settling in as I remembered all twenty thousand times I had enlightened my kids that they ‘should have gone before we left.”
Hence, I did what any decent lady would do in such a delicate situation—I fidgeted in my seat, hummed a few tunes, reclined for awhile hoping to sleep my way home, crossed my legs—tightly, tried to make small talk, and all the while I was getting more miserable and my mood was anything but content, confirming that “irritable bowel” had been aptly named. I knew it was time to take the avenue that seemed most appropriate in a time of desperation—prayer. I prayed for a miracle in the desert of life.
But, alas, my request apparently wasn’t cause for divine intervention or the answer I wanted was extremely slow in coming, so I, not having the patience of Job, was forced to make a formal announcement of my situation, since nature was loudly hollering at me and I, in turn, was loudly hollering at the kids. Julie Ann, my impulsive child (who I am convinced inherited a recessive gene), immediately started chortling, ‘HA, HA, Mom has to CR@P.” That eight-year-old trucker never did mince words. I, being the lady I am, didn’t take kindly to my daughter’s inappropriate use of bodily function language so I instructed her on the wisdom of cleaning up her potty mouth and showing sympathy for the person in charge of her social activities for the next ten years.
One has to be familiar with the Southwest to understand what I am about to say. The desert is synonymous with “no place to hide.” Oh, there might be a saguaro here or a tumbleweed there but hardly what one could classify as sufficiently “concealing.”
Then, just as I was about to lose faith in a merciful God, I got my miracle. Out of nowhere, a gathering of trees appeared which I swear had a halo of light hovering over it. There is was, my oasis in the desert which God (though He took long enough to answer) had provided just for me. It looked like the Hilton of outhouses, and I forthwith commenced to command—“STOP THE CAR!!!”
As luck would have it, Julie’s nature just happened to call at the same time so, lucky me; Julie Ann came along, snickering all the way.
I was determined to go as far back into the trees as I possibly could just in case someone doing anything less than 85 mph might catch a glimpse of me getting real familiar with nature. Julie Ann kept her mouth in constant motion with suggestions like “this is a good spot” and “that is a good spot” and I, having the wisdom that only age brings, kept resisting, telling her to “go back a little further, just go back a little more.” I would have kept backing up all day except I ran out of options because we were all out of trees, but at least I was confident there weren’t going to be any highway perverts getting a peak at my stern.
Julie has never had a problem like mine. She could let anything fly at 100 mph and stand there bragging about it. So, down went her shorts, and she did her thing—happily! Now it was my turn. “C’mon Mom, nobody can see you—just let it rip” she insisted with that annoying little laugh of hers. I looked ahead of me one more time just to make sure no one was there then took a deep breath and “went for it.” I painfully pealed down my drawers, bared my backside and then “it” happened. There was the loudest, longest “toot”, the likes of which I had never heard before…and, as I live and breathe, it wasn’t coming from me! My head did a 180 with the dexterity of a hoot owl.
Would it surprise you to know that Amtrak has a train that runs smack dab in the middle of absolute nowhere? Consider yourself forewarned. As it was, I was smack dab in the middle of “my thing”, unfortunately at the point of no return. I could see the reflection of my crimson “face” in the shiny mirrors of steel on tracks. I heard my formerly beloved daughter laughing her guts out as car after passenger car passed us by, the filthy-minded engineer making sure his desert fare appreciated the change of scenery by, I swear, slowing to a snail’s pace and blasting that wretched horn like Gabriel announcing the return of the Lord. The only thing I could think of to salvage any dignity I had left was that at least the train was drowning out any noises I might be making.
Although I still carry with me the remnants of PTPSD (post-traumatic potty stress syndrome), I would venture to say I’m close to a full recovery four years post-potty incident. My new psychiatrist mistakenly believes that my messed up #2 organ is the direct result of intractable depression affecting my nervous system. I’ve come to the conclusion he was not well trained in psychoanalysis. How else can one explain my free-floating word associations “vacation, food, salt-water, more food, desert, car, divine intervention, trees, potty, toot, train, Julie Ann, laugh hysterically, crimson, Julie Ann, revenge.”
I have made my peace with God. I have come to realize that I was sent into the desert like Moses—to bring a little happiness to the multitudes (of bored Amtrak passengers who would have something humorous to pass on to their children and their children’s children).
God, being all-knowing, realized I needed a tincture of humility and gave it to me but, as always, he also showed me the solution to my problem. If you’re traveling anywhere in the continental United States and happen to see a blue Grand Marquis with a construction sized PortaJohn bungee-corded to the trunk with a halo of light hovering over it, that would be me. Give me a toot—I always like hearing from new friends.