The Party Pooper

Saturday, May 12, 1990

My best friend, Laurie, is celebrating her 21st birthday. Yes, today is the day! She and I are joined by two of her closest friends at Hamburger Mary’s south of market. We plan to have dinner there before heading off to the bars for some alcoholic consumption in celebration of her now legal status of — wait for it — alcoholic consumption.

We arrive at the friendly, funky dining establishment (now gone from San Francisco since 2001) and take our seats. I order a cheeseburger with fries and an espresso milkshake. I’m clearly not watching my figure, nor do I need to do so because of my lightning fast metabolism. However, there will be consequences later on as you shall see. The four of us are having a rip-roaring time at this wonderful, eclectic establishment. The food is fresh and delicious. Our server is a riot. The vibe is good. I notice that the effect of the espresso milkshake is starting to kick in. I’m definitely more alert. Oh goodie. This means I can stay up late.

After dinner, we head out to the Oasis, a lively nightspot with an outside rooftop patio. The four of us make a beeline to the bar and drinks are procured in short order. The place is buzzing; there’s a wild energy here. Laurie is having a great time. Oh hell, we’re all enjoying ourselves. Before I order a second cocktail, I notice that the first has done its job quite nicely. I’m really buzzed. But what’s going on in my stomach? I start working on the second cocktail. More wildness ensues. We have our pictures taken by a professional photographer. It’s a perfect evening — the kind frequently enjoyed by young adults before marriage, kids, a mortgage and responsibilities weigh them down.

And then it hits! A wave of pain requiring immediate action roils through my abdomen. I’ll just ignore it for now. Breathe, Todd, breathe. The pain subsides. And then it returns, redoubled. Oh shit. I need visit the restroom, fast! I’m there, in record time. There are no doors on the stalls. None. Well this is bad. I return to the outdoor patio and inform Laurie that I need to go back to Hamburger Mary’s, formulating some excuse that deflects from the intestinal moment of truth I’m experiencing.

I’m running as fast as I can, under the circumstances. Now I’m back at Hamburger Mary’s. I encounter an attractive hostess with short blond hair. She notices me. I tell her that I actually prefer the vibe here over the one at the Oasis. She falls for it, nodding in agreement. I pretend to linger around the bar, but I’m looking for the bathroom. There is only one, and I notice with some consternation, that there is a line of people waiting to use it. I take my place at the end of the line. The following internal dialog ensues:

Me: I know I messed up this time. I admit it.

Bowels: You damn straight you messed up. What the hell were you thinking? You feed me a greasy cheeseburger, salty fries, a nuclear powered espresso milkshake, and THEN you top it off with an alcoholic “howitzer” barrage. I already spoke to your stomach about it. He gave me some sass about “talk to the hand”, and then proceeded to get rid of his cargo faster than you can say Jack Robinson.

Me: Ugh!

Bowels: You think you’re in pain now? Just you wait son. Oh! Oh! You think you’re gonna fart? Is that what you think is going on here. Is that what you think will relieve the pain? Well let me tell … Stop. STOP! Jesus H. Christ!

Me: Oh God! Tell me I didn’t do what I just felt!

Bowels: Oh yes you did. [hands crossed] Oh yes you DID. Someone’s gonna have to clean that up.

Embarrassed, I finally make it into the bathroom. There is no lock on the door. Repeat: there is no lock on the door. I do what nature requires of me. It takes a while. Periodically, a drunk patron opens the door and I have to shout “Occupied” to make them go away. I clean myself up as best as I can. Utterly defeated (and not quite done), I crab-walk back to the Oasis and inform Laurie that I must go home. I have lost all sense of time. I must have been away for an hour. She doesn’t seem to be concerned at all (she’s clearly drunk as hell). Somehow, we make it back to San Francisco State University. I’m home. If you only knew what I went through, Laurie.

I told her the next day.

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