People frequently come to me as a sage 20something asking, “How did you become such a well-adjusted adult person in this crazy, crazy world?” And by frequently, I mean never.
But I’m like a boy scout in that I am always prepared. Less so for forest fires and more so for the possibility that someone will want to hear my coming of age story. But until that time comes, I will share with you the tale I have stashed in my metaphoric back pocket next to some tampon puns and probably a gum wrapper.
The year was 1999, and I was but a soon-to-be fourth grader moving to a new city. I know 8 years old seems a little premature to be coming of age, but I was something of an early bloomer. Not to toot my own puberty horn, but I was already sprouting mad armpit hair by fifth grade.
My dad and I were taking another tour of our soon-to-be new home with the previous owner. I can’t remember if we had officially bought the house at this point yet. I was probably too busy counting my armpit hairs to pay attention. But I do remember the house was mostly empty and smelled strongly of grandparents.
We were about half way through the tour when I felt a feeling. A stomach feeling. And not a happy stomach feeling like love butterflies or that feeling you get when you’re about to eat really good pizza. (Not that those two feelings are mutually exclusive. I’ve been spiritually moved by pizza before.)
I felt that stomach feeling known to man as: I am about to shit my pants.
After a hurried departure from our three-person tour group, my cheeks clenched in fear, I made it safely to the bathroom and released all my inner demons, having what can only be described as a soul-cleansing experience. I felt relief both from the shit taking and from the panic of said shit taking potentially not happening in a toilet.
BUT SUDDENLY, in a plot twist that I should probably sell to M. Night Shyamalan for millions of dollars or Haley Joel Osment’s phone number, I had an earth shattering revelation: There was no toilet paper.
I waddled around the bathroom, pants around my ankles, desperately opening closets and cabinets and drawers, trying to find a spare toilet paper roll, some tissue, maybe a towel no one would miss. But my search left me with only dental floss and a Ziploc baggie.
The floss seemed like a far too tedious method of poo removal, and wiping my ass with a Ziploc bag sounded like a humiliating thing to have to explain to a doctor after inevitably slicing my asshole on one of the sharp top corners.
So, I did what anyone would do in that situation: wiped my butt with my underwear.
BUT, DOUBLE TWIST: There was also no trashcan in this bathroom because clearly the owners didn’t anticipate the company of a gassy 8-year-old.
So, I did what anyone would do in that situation: Put my makeshift underwear toilet paper into the aforementioned Ziploc baggie, shoved the baggie into my pants, smoothed out my pants and pulled my shirt over the lumpy area as to not give away what terrible secrets lie beneath, and left the bathroom hoping no one would stand too closely or breath too deeply near me.
I reunited with my dad and the previous home owner, and I’m not sure how much longer we spent walking around the house, but I should probably win an award for Being The Most Chill And Nonchalant While Taking A House Tour With Shit-Stained Underwear Shoved Inside A Baggie Inside My Pants.
We continued our tour outside the house, and I saw a beacon of hope in the form of a woodpile. And I did what anyone would do in that situation: hid the baggie with the poop panties underneath the pile of firewood.
Our tour ended, my dad and I left, and I shoved that memory deep within my 8-year-old brain, planning never to speak of the horrific things I’d done to that Ziploc baggie or that woodpile ever again.
“But, Mia, if you’ve blocked this memory so completely, how are you retelling it now?”
Well, hold on to your lady in the water, Shyamalan, because we’re about to cut to 6ish years later whence we will uncover…
YET ANOTHER PLOT TWIST. THE PLOT HAS BEEN TWISTED THRICE. I hope you took a Dramamine before reading this post because YOU’RE ABOUT TO GET MOTION SICKNESS FROM ALL THIS PLOT TWISTING.
The year was roughly 2005, and I was but a sophomore in high school. That’s six more years worth of humiliating memories buried deep within my easily embarrassed psyche.
So, of course, when my dad called us all out to the backyard where he just finished disassembling the woodpile that had been in place since we first moved in, I was initially just as confused by the small Ziploc bag holding a pair of girls’ underwear patterned with small blue flowers and smears of shit.
It eventually came rushing back to me in the way that my shit probably rushed to my lower intestines on that fateful day: slowly, then all at once.
So, to recap: Girl tours house. Girl takes poop in house bathroom. Girl uses underwear as toilet paper and hides it under a woodpile in backyard of house. Girl is reunited with underwear six years later. Ugh, I know. It’s all so cliche.
This is probably why nobody asks how I transitioned so smoothly from adolescence into adulthood.
And why I’m not allowed on house tours anymore.
Originally posted here.