Conversations: A Nashville Bathroom

While next to an old man at the urinal at a bar in Nashville, TN.

Old Man: so much goes in so that much must come out.
Me: So they say.
Old Man: I just turned 70. When I was in my 60’s I could handle my liquor. Now it’s just about quantity.
Me: Quantity over quality. They don’t say that.
Old Man: Heh. Just a good Coors Light for me. I love that shit.
Me: I love it too.
Old Man: I love it as much as grabbing some big old knockers.
Me: So they say.

That Time I Ate A Box Of Crayons (Originally Published in 2008)

It’s not that I don’t care about my body or my life it’s just that I’m really not that too concerned about it – that is, the long term consequences I suppose.

I tend to invest a lot of my time and energy in thinking about and doing stupid things.

I think about why we haven’t applied more thought in capturing the potential energy generated from humans pushing revolving doors.

I wonder about how when people kiss, what percentage of men and women decide to keep there eyes wide open.

Then I think about really dumb things.

Like what could I eat for money?

This past Saturday I ate a box of 24 crayons.

I will repeat that. I ingested 24 non-toxic, OfficeMax brand crayons. Wrapper and all.

And I did this all for money. And there is no shame in that because if I hadn’t done it for cash you would all think I was just a bit off my rocker.

Which, I seriously might be.

So, the origin to all of this is that the softball team I play for tries to have a BBQ once a summer. We usually have plenty of food, drinks, a bags tournaments and stay in a backyard. We laugh and tell stories until eventually someone throws up a stupid bet and finally someone with massive, mammoth sized balls comes along and says, “Well, for how much?”

The guy with the big balls? Yeah those belong to me. Oh, you mean the half-Chinese guy with the spirit shooter the size of Soviet Russia on a grammar school map. That’s Jim Fucking Osterhout.

Last year I ate a Chinette plate. This year I ate 24 crayons. I can tell you that both of them were most displeasing.

To be upfront, and hopefully not sounding like a complete idiot, I know that what I am doing is probably bad for me. This whole thing is ridiculous and so ill conceived that one day I might seriously injury myself in the process but as long as the money is good and there is a challenge I will probably take it.

It’s all a learning process. Wisdom and intelligence points to be garnered in the role playing game of life.

The act of eating the crayons was actually really simple. I would break them into sections of three and then just swallow them whole (like Aspirin) aided by the help of a soft drink for flavor. In this case it was Diet Dr. Pepper, Coke and Diet Root Beer. And like most learning processes they all have a curve. In this particular contest, I think I went at it too fast. I thought I could just get it done in one fell swoop when actually I should have taken my sweet time. Regardless, I still managed to finish in at a respectable clip.

But truly, the most important thing that I have discovered is that the body does not digest paper. And nor does it digest wax. And if you need proof I have pictures of my stool that I captured while I was at work.

And if you are seriously more disgusted than impressed with that last statement then you Sir/Madame have obviously not thought about the logistics of this.

I took myself all the way up to an almost vacant floor of the Merchandise Mart around ten o’clock on Monday. Based on last year’s performance with the paper plate I knew this was about the time I would finally rid myself of the foreign contents inside of my stomach.

When I got off the elevator, I ran to the bathroom. I went through the double doors, quickly undoing my belt and clumsily trying to drop my pants at the same time. I grabbed the first possible stall in the house, sat down and released. It was rough. And tough. And the only way I could describe is like it is that it felt like I was passing a crayon. A very sharp crayon.

As the first scouts dropped into the toilet I couldn’t help but look. And as the ripples dispersed I could make out the image of a piece of yellow crayon, still perfect with the paper wrapper around it.

At this point I realized two things:

1. I am as stupid as a seven-year-old.
2. I still had twenty three other crayons inside of me.

And after that, things got dicey.

I grabbed onto the toilet paper dispenser and threw my left hand in to the air. Waiving it wildly as the army of crayon chunks pushed their way out of my body. It was as if my ass was reenacting the fire bombing of Dresden. And this lasted a long time. At least until the last stupid wax figure had made its way out and nose dived into the tainted, murky poo pool below me.

Chuckling to myself, I sent out a text message to my closest friends, informing them that the crayons had made it to their final destination and that I would send some of them a picture of my rainbow masterpiece soon.

And then I realized something. How was I to take a picture, especially when all of the sediment hadn’t fallen to the bottom of the toilet? Surely I could lift myself up and take a picture but no one would be able to make out a thing. It would be just like another blurry shot of the Lochness Monster or a lame photo of a UFO.

So here I was at a crossroads: If I didn’t wait, the picture would just look like a dirty pond but if I didn’t wipe soon I would have a gigantic mess of dried brown paste stuck to my asshole sooner than you could ask,  “Who here has seen the Duck Tales movie?”

So I made an executive decision. I stood up, grabbed my shirt , lifted it to my belly button and waddled my way out of the stall and into the neighboring one. I watched myself in the mirror as I looked like an idiot, half naked creeping into another part of the bathroom hoping to God that no one would walk in and see me prancing into another stall with a shit covered asshole.

I jumped in and closed the door and proceeded to wipe myself, taking as much time as I needed so that the toilet to my right would settle down and I could finally grab the perfect picture. And as luck would have it, my patience paid off. When I finished with the big dig in stall number two, I gleefully walked over to the first toilet and smiled. There, inside that brown bowl, I could see the colors of a beautiful waxy rainbow.

I took my photos and sighed. The nightmare was finally over. I had done something so stupid, so absurd that I might as well be dead, yet here I was, alive and allowed to tell the tale.

And as I flushed the toilet I realized that not only was I richer in the wallet but in my heart as well.

Friday Night Jr. High School Dance Class (Previously Published on 5/12/2011)

When I was in 5th grade our family moved a town over, traveling one mile south from Westchester to LaGrange Park. It wasn’t a huge relocation but the students at my new school were a different breed from the ones I had become accustomed to at Westchester. Like most transplanted kids, I found it hard to adapt. By the time I finished grade school in LaGrange Park, I realized that the new group of friends I had made were a bunch of hot dork sandwiches so I divorced them like Gingrich and decided to fly solo when I got to Park Jr. High (Authors Note: I actually never had any dork sandwich friends to divorce in the first place).

Like most typical junior high schools, we had three or four area grade schools funnel in to create one disgusting super class. Because of my relative obscurity and timidness in the social scene, my older cousins suggested that I join Friday night dance class.

“Dancing? That is soooooo gay and sucky,” I told my cousins and my mother.

“Why don’t you want to do it? You will meet people and I bet it’s fun!” my mother chimed.

I avoided the topic the best I could for the first few weeks but everyone was right. If I was going to make friends then I had to do something social. So with very little enthusiasm, I signed up for dance class. They had already finished week number two so I would certainly be behind in my training but what did it matter? I wasn’t there for the technical aspect of the box step. This was an exercise in socialization.

My first two Friday classes went by without incident. I picked up on the Cha-Cha and something else that I never used and obviously forgot, pretty quickly. My only issue with the class was that it was held in the school’s cafeteria and with 250 plus bodies it quickly became an oven. By the time class was over it stunk of sweat and self-esteem issues.

On what was to be my third week of dance class, my mother was absent from the house. She had taken a trip to China with my Great Uncle Steve. In turn, my father was now running the show. Every night my brother and I were cooked something with steak or ground beef. This was a huge departure from the regular fare that my mother cooked with great zeal.

That Friday, however, I was feeling sassy. The summer before class started I happened to be down in Texas visiting some relatives. One day we were shopping at a Ross (dress for less!) when I saw a shirt that I just needed to purchase.

Now, I need preface this because currently this product is as lame as hell but in 1994 this shit was the rage. It was a red silk shirt. And while you are laughing at that, I say fuck you, kids were all about silk boxers at the time so silk shirts were the next step in the evolution of things.

Anyway, when I came down stairs all dressed to go to dance class my father looked at me quizzically.

“You shouldn’t wear that.”

“Well, I’m gunna.”

Suggestively he pushed, “Well, you should wear an undershirt with that shirt.”

“Look, you’re not my boss and I want to wear the shirt.”

Dad looked at me again, “I just don’t think it’s a good idea.”

“Well you’re wrong.”

Argument over. Me – 1 Dad – 0. I was 12 fucking years old and it was about time I got my way.

We got in the car and he took me to the school. It was about a mile away. When he dropped me off I told him thanks and he said he’d pick me up when the class let out. I walked inside and approached the bathroom that connected to the cafeteria. I hit the urinal and then took a look in the mirror. My hair was a bit mussed so I splashed some water in it and combed it around. When I was done I walked out and found some of my peers – Bill, Joey and Alex. We all sat down and started jawing for about 10 minutes. Soon the teachers came in and we all stood up to go look for a dance partner.

As I got up my friend Bill pointed at my shirt and asked, “What’s that?”

I looked and there was a small water droplet by my stomach.

“Nothing. Must have gotten water on my shirt when I was combing my hair it in the bathroom,” I said.

But the nothing was something. It was the first bead of sweat in a Congo line of many to create a nightmare of epic proportions. There was a storm brewing and I was too stupid to see it on the horizon.

The dancing began and we went through the regular bag of shit; box stepping and Cha-Cha and the likes. We all circled through the dances and then picked new partners with each new dance. This went on for about 25 minutes and it wasn’t until long that you started to see ties being loosened and people wiping their foreheads on their sleeves. When I went to do it I noticed that my shirt was starting to turn from a bright red to a dark burgundy. Even more revealing was instead of the shirt being light and breezy it was starting to stick to parts of my body.

With every passing minute I could feel the group’s warm stares on me. My face started to redden and I was now dripping with sweat. I kept looking at the clock noting that I had at least 45 minutes of class left. I tried to relax as I was passed off to the next dance partner. I took a deep breath and suddenly during a lull in the music I heard a familiar voice scream out, “JIMMY OSTERHOUT PISSED ALL OVA THE BACK OF HIS SHIRT!”

It was my friend, Joey. 

Nix that. My former friend, Joey.

The proverbial record screeched and the eye fucking commenced.
Every single ocular ball not clouded by teenage onset-cataracts was trained on me, searing and pointed. We were all sweating like we had just escaped from a Hanoi prison but I was the one being made of as an example. I could hear a few giggles from the crowd but the nail in the coffin was one student named T.J. yelling out, “What a fag.”

That was the bomb. The groups laughter surrounded me and I was eventually shrouded in my own shame.

My dancing partner looked at me. My eyes were welling up with tears and my face was burnt red with embarrassment.

“Are you … are you okay?” she whispered.

I couldn’t even look at her eyes. I lowered my head and my fingers slipped through hers. I slowly walked out through the same bathroom door I had walked so confidently through just 45 minutes earlier.

In the pocket of my Dockers was a quarter. I walked over to the payphone and dialed home. My father answered the phone and I told him I needed a ride.

“Are you okay? What’s wrong?”

“You were right. Just come get me.”

I hung up the phone and walked out side of the school. I slumped down on the hard concrete steps. Eventually, Dad’s green Volvo pulled up. With my heavy shoulders, I slowly walked up to the car and slumped into the leather seat.

“Do you want to talk about it?” he asked.

“No,” I mumbled.

He hit the gas and the school disappeared into the distance.

Dad looked at me, put his hand on my knee and said, “And we’ll never have to. We’ll never have to.” Reborn?

My previous webhost decided to shut down their Baltimore servers. I could have just moved my website over to a new host, however the mysql database export I snagged happened to be corrupt and when I went back to grab another copy of it the hosts were turned off. Sooo … here I am starting over from backups that didn’t exist. I did this to myself. I’m not complaining about it. My bad. Whatever. I would still trust my life with GANDI.Net. I used them for years and I’m glad to have been referred to them by my friend George a long time ago. Sadly, Inmotion had better pricing and with a little blog like mine, I didn’t need all the extra power and bandwidth.

Perhaps the only positive is that I have come back full circle to using, which was the first website I ever operated. That is honestly kind of cool and it’s afforded me some time to regale in the nostalgia. It also makes me slightly angry because I now sit with a mountain of stuff to do on a Tuesday night. Worst of all, I am attempting to scrap together what I can of my lost essays. This might take some time and I’m sure no one really gives a huge shit. My gut feeling is the world could probably use fewer diarrhea stories but, hey, you can’t stop the wrecking ball of progress.

Please keep checking back for updates. I’m sure there will be plenty of them.

Bachi the Cow Puppy (Originally Published 12.02.2015)

On November 29th, our friend, Bachi was laid to rest. He was a 13-year-old rat terrier mix.

Bachi was my wife’s dog. She adopted him when she was 21. The day she was told Bachi was available she braved a snowstorm to pick him up from the shelter. The way she tells it, she took Bachi because he was the first small dog available. When she got there he growled at her.

It was love at first sight.

Over the next nine years, Tessa would move from apartment to apartment with Bachi. He was a constant companion to her. I would finally meet up with them in July of 2011 and eventually, after not a lot of prodding, I asked her to move in with Wedge (my corgi) and me. So, one day in September we packed up my mini-van and drove the lot of them down. In addition to Tessa and Bachi, I also received Bones (the miniature pincher that loves to poop everywhere), and Elsie (the cat that can say hello).

This new family dynamic took me a while to get used to.

  • The dogs now had a herd mentality and stopped listening to basic commands like – No, Stop, Don’t Eat That, Don’t Shit There, DUDE, NO STOP!
  • Bachi and Bones decided that since the previous owner’s (my aunt) dog decided to use the house as a toilet that they would happily oblige as they must have felt grandfathered in.
  • I spent around $10K in home improvements to replace carpeting, which was now inducing asthma and to install a new 6-foot fence to keep her little terrors from jumping into the neighbor’s yards.
  • Elsie would kill mice and leave them in places for me to step on in the middle of the night. Sometimes she would leave them in the bathtub, half alive and cause Tessa to shriek in terror. Because of this, I have become a master of luring mice into small toilet paper tubes and letting them loose outside. I still have no way to get mouse guts out from between the toes. If you can think of a better solution then I am all ears.
  • Did I mention the defecation?

Despite all of these issues and my new hatred of the colors yellow and brown, I learned to love them all. Especially Bachi, who I aptly called Cow Dog, Cow Puppy and Little Cow Cow.

In my early days with Bachi, I would let all of the dogs into the backyard in the morning to relieve themselves. During this time, I would get dressed and eventually try to herd them back into the house. On multiple occasions, Bachi would find an opening in the lattice under the deck and hide. This was his way of saying, “I do not like being left alone during the day so you should stay home and hang out with me. If you don’t like it then I’m going to make you late for work.”

And he did. Close to twenty times.

Eventually I screwed plastic Rubbermaid container covers over the damaged lattice to keep him out. As the weather continued to beat up other areas of the deck, he would smash his tiny head through other widening holes and wiggle his small dog body in.

He was such a resourceful little bastard.

One day, Bachi wouldn’t come out. I was already 20 minutes late for work when I shouted into the sky, “FINE! THEN YOU WILL STAY THERE AND HANG OUT WITH THE SQUIRELS!“ This was really a stupid threat because he loved to chase and bark at them.

At 2:00 PM, through a weird game of telephone, my neighbor called my mother and then my mother called me to advise me that a small black and white dog had jumped the fence and was sun bathing on their porch.

I raced home to retrieve him, however when I got there he was gone. In a panic I started to scream his name for five minutes straight. I tore up the entire backyard searching for him, lifting up wide leafed hostas and other accumulated foliage that I had obviously neglected due to my lack of a green thumb.

Eventually I heard a small bark in the distance.

I continued to shout his name and the barks grew louder. I ran over to the south side of the fence and saw him from a block away running toward me. I ran out to greet him and gave him the biggest hug in the world.

God, I was so angry with him and that much more angry with myself that I would think he would have stayed in the yard. Two weeks later the big fence was installed. Bachi won out and so did the United States economy.

Another time, Tessa was out at work on a Saturday. I was left to my own devices and decided that I would hang out in the basement and play computer games until my eyes decided to sting.

When I finally emerged from my techno dungeon, I found the wrappers of Godiva chocolates strewn about the house. When I finally found Bachi, he was tearing through another two dark chocolate candies in the bedroom.

Like any rational person I screamed at the top of my lungs, “OH MAH GOD YOU ARE GOING TO DIE AND TESSA IS GOING TO FUCKING KILL ME!”

I dialed Tessa to tell her what happened and I went into full panic mode.

“Okay listen. Everything is under control but you need to know that Bachi jumped on top of the kitchen table and tore open that box of Godiva chocolates and I think he might die but I will fix this. Okay. Hope you are having fun at work. Love you. Bye.”

I called my parents next and with the exact same level of calm I told them what I needed.

“MOM! You need to get me something quick! Bachi is dead in like 5 minutes if you don’t get me that shit that you drink and makes you puke. Also I need that cylinder with the plunger and numbers on it that you stick into stuff!”

There was silence at the other end, “What? Wait? Who? What is dead? Are you drunk?”


5 minutes later my parents arrived with a bottle of hydrogen peroxide.

My Dad says to me, “It’s alright. Calm down. Where is your syringe?”

“Syringe? That’s what I told mom to bring. The turkey baster thing with the numbers and shit on the side. MOM! Did you bring that fucking thing so we can fill it with the puke maker?”

My mother just sighed. “No, I did not bring that as you were not very descriptive on the phone. Calm down. I’ll be right back.”

5 minutes after that I was holding Bachi in my lap with my finger forcing his mouth open while my Dad shot hydrogen peroxide down his throat.

And because I deserved it, Bachi clamped down and sent his tooth through my thumbnail. I screamed in pain, put him on the ground and danced around the living room like a moron. 30 seconds later he puked up $10 worth of chocolate.

He could really be the life of the party.

Bachi’s tenacity for trouble was only equaled by his love for food. He would watch like a hawk for anything dropped to the floor. He was equal parts genius and scavenger. Of all the dogs I have met, I think he would have been ready for the apocalypse as he would have figured out how to survive.

This is where the story turns for the worst. About three weeks ago, Bachi developed a cough and started to wheeze. Tessa would take him in to the vet and they would initially diagnose it as potential bacterial or viral infection. It seemed legitimate, as it wasn’t much different than your standard doggie cough.

But it grew worse and an X-ray revealed some sort of blockage but a true diagnosis could not be provided unless she was ready to spend $3000 – $5000 on a test. The test would be able to determine what he really had, however if it was as the doctor’s had feared, then he would require surgery or if it was the worst case scenario (a collapsed bronchial tube) they wouldn’t be able to do much more for him.

As the weeks wore on, it became apparent that Bachi was not responding to the antibiotics. His breathing became more erratic and his love of food started to dissipate. Despite this, he would continue to greet you when you walked in the door, jump onto your knee and wag his tail in delight before humbly retiring to his doggie bed to cough and wheeze from exhaustion.

Bachi is Tessa’s child so I cannot imagine the pain she felt as she watched his health go to hell over a three-week span. Truthfully, I’m only his adopted Dad but I can say with certainty that it was a terrible thing to witness. Not just watching him wither away but also seeing the one you love become an emotional wreck.

On Thanksgiving morning, Tessa was to come over to eat diner with my family. She was delayed when Bachi had a seizure. After things were in the clear, she made her way over and we took him to my parent’s house for Thanksgiving lunch. We then packed up and drove up to Wisconsin to see her parents. The car ride up, Bachi laid down, occasionally picking up his head to see what was going on but it was a far cry from his usual game where he would look out the car window and bark at other cars, people and dogs the entire ride up.

The following morning Tessa could barely get him to eat his normal food let alone a sliver of hot dog or ham.

Saturday I did not see Tessa or Bachi but I had planned on visiting her that Sunday morning. When I got to her place I was greeted by Bones but not by Bachi who was laying down in his mess of doggie blankets. I walked over to him, his tail still wagging and could hear him uncomfortably breathing.

Tessa said he hadn’t eaten and that he barely touched his food yesterday. To our right, we could hear his faint but labored breaths.

A few hours later and after much deliberation, I made a call to the emergency vet and bawled as she spoke to me about options. Based on his decline in health the decision made itself.

That afternoon, we watched him go to a peaceful sleep.

Admittedly, of all the challenges I have ever faced, this was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. You think that you can be strong or act as some pillar of moral support for your friend and your wife but it doesn’t work because you have been affected by this little fragile creature in a number of miraculous ways.

In that instance you realize these incredibly basic lessons about love, anger, fear and patience were learned because of the unconditional love of a friend. You find out just how much your life has actually been enriched and how much of your pessimistic soul has been turned by this little sixteen-pound, four legged pal.

It’s gut wrenching. It is terrible.

And all you can do is watch and pray that you did the right thing.

I have always believed that the reason a dog’s life is so short compared to a humans is to impart certain elements of wisdom. That we shouldn’t take life for granted – our own or others. That companionship comes in many forms and that sometimes the most important things are right in front of our faces. We forget those basic things in our daily scramble to climb a progressive ladder toward personal fulfillment. A dog doesn’t give a fig about any of that. A dog just wants your time, a tummy rub and maybe a small piece of steak when no one else is looking.

At an early age I attended a lot of wakes and funerals. I come from a large Chinese family and if I had to peg it, my first one was when I was four or five years old. It’s a funny thing, of all the friends and family members to walk through my life, I cannot remember a death being this hard to stomach. My neighbor told my parents that putting his dog to sleep was harder than watching a family member pass away. After witnessing this, I have to agree with him.

The only thing worse than witnessing death is being forced to make that judgment call. I know my wife feels the same way.

A few years back, when I first adopted Wedge, I came across two things that made me understand the kinship between dogs and humans. The first was an episode of Futurama where the main character, Fry (who had accidentally been placed in a cryogenic state in the 90’s) has a chance to be reunited with his dog from the past. In a series of flashbacks you learn that the dog searched high and low for his master and eventually waited out his life waiting for him in front of the store he worked at. I think I cried for half an hour and hugged my dog the entire time.

The second was a poem that Jimmy Stewart read on The Tonight Show to Johnny Carson. He muses about his dog being a hellion but concludes with a beautiful section on how we form a deep symbiotic relationship with our pets and just how empty we feel without them.

Despite all of the pain, I will affirm that there are some things in this world that are really worth getting your heart broken for. Bachi was one of those and he ultimately made me a better person for it. You adopt a dog to act as a companion and to possible save him or her from being trapped at a shelter. During that entire process, you might possibly learn that the dog is the thing that saves you.

From the bottom of Tessa’s heart and mine, we will love you always, Bachi.

I’ll miss you my little cow spotted friend.


Taking a load off.


A regal stroll.


Patiently waiting to go back inside.


The gang.


In time out.


I Was That Naked Guy On I-74 Who Was Covered With His Own Puke (Originally Published in 2008)

It was 11:12 A.M. The sun’s torrid rays impressed its power on the four-man dome tent I was laying in. My brow was moist with perspiration and as I slowly became coherent, I noticed my sweat had soaked into the hooded sweatshirt I had used as a make shift pillow during the night.

In my bag I could hear the faint but audible alarm of my Blackberry. It had been going off since 8:00 that morning but I had failed to act upon it. The events of the night had proven to be too much for my body as I was nothing but a hung over, crippled mess still trying to discern what had exactly happened.

I brought my hand to my face and touched the stubble on my neck and chin. My tongue glazed over my dry, gritty teeth. In the back of my mouth a piece of gum from the night before sat stale and flavorless. I crawled to the front of the tent, unzipped the door and looked outside.

A gentle breeze glanced over the tent and welcomed me to the dawn of a brand new day. I could already see that most of the equipment from yesterday’s party had already been taken down. Indeed the seventh annual gathering for New Life Tattoo’s had been a success. Matt and Joel walked back and forth through the huge backyard, moving objects and picking up trash. On my knees, I spat my gum into my hand and pitched it across the yard, watching it sail into a nearby set of tree branches. I continued to observe, focused on the team cleaning the yard and watched them working diligently like a bunch of crazed bees attacking Macaulay Culkin’s face in My Girl.

I started to crawl around the tent again, making sure I had my mentionables; cell phone, keys, wallet, etc. I ran my hands down my face, scratched my sides and dropped my hands over my ankles in an attempt to stretch my back. As my right hand grazed my calve I let out a small yelp as if I had hit a fresh wound. I quickly turned my head and looked down upon my ankle.

I sat there, stunned, gazing at my body with wonderment.

There on the higher portion of my shin was a tattoo. A tattoo that read “SPUN-IN” and underneath the lettering was two yellow and red twenty sided die.

I stared at the image some more, blinking my eyes in rapid succession, hoping that what I just saw was some sick mirage. This, however was not the case. I started to piece together the fragments of the night and suddenly realized that what was once a hilarious inside joke had become a permanent fixture on my body. And although I liked the artwork of the dice, I was shackled with the odd feelings of regret and delirious confusion.

I looked again at my watch and decided that it was time to move on. It was getting late in the day and I had told my team that I would make it back in time for a 6:30 softball game.We were in the hunt for the playoffs and with a 1 – 8 record I knew that I was the difference maker we needed. (Authors Note: We lost the game and haven’t made it to the playoffs once in four seasons)

As I started to pack up, Jeremy (New Life Tattoo’s owner and proprietor) stopped by my tent to check on me. He told me that they were trying to clean up as quick as possible so that he and his crew could leave for Cincinnati. More or less, a polite, get the fuck out of here, dude.

I threw some of my things into my bag and began changing out of the costume I had worn the night before during the pajama party. This get up consisted of a girls hoodie donning a light-up rabbit and a pair of women’s large, magenta colored, Hanna Montana shorts. After two or three trips to the car I started to break down the tent, quickly placing it’s myriad of pieces into neat piles.

Everything was perfectly fine until I had to physically fold up the tent. The hot sun continued to beat down on me while I struggled understand the basic principals of tent dynamics and their foldable dimensions. Within minutes I quickly started to deteriorate. The copious amounts of alcohol that my body was still housing from the night before began to stream from my pores. My shirt slowly formed unmistakable sweat spots while my forehead dripped uncontrollably. I felt ill and after screwing around for over 20 minutes I became horribly upset, picked up the mess of a plastic and nylon and threw it into the back seat of my Honda Element, vowing to deal with it when I got home.

After my hissy fit I began to feel horribly uncomfortable. My stomach felt like it was ready to erupt into flame and if left unchecked I could release a shit storm of a problem in my drawers. Yet, despite this, I decided to walk into the owners house, asked for a cup of water, and politely said my good byes to everyone.

I jumped in my car and hit the road, with the only desire of having a safe and uneventful trip back home.

Before I got to the highway I stopped at a Casey’s Gas Station off of Route 150. While I gassed up the Honda, I picked up two large bottles of yellow Gatorade in hopes it would settle my stomach, hydrate my body, and relieve me of a now body throbbing hang over.

After I finished at the gas station I jumped back onto Route 150 and turned the corner at University so I could hit Interstate-74. It was here that I was presented with my first challenge, eastbound or westbound? And since I didn’t know the area well enough, the wrong answer prevailed.

As I immediately joined the highway I knew I was going the wrong way. Already cursing myself for wasting gas, I watched for the exit signs. As luck would have it, the closest one was seven miles away. I found a long song on my iPod hoping it would cover me for the duration of the detour.

When I got the chance to turn around I didn’t waste anytime. I drove quickly up the ramp, checked left, checked right, checked left again, proceeded and tore back down the interstate.

And perhaps that was my second mistake. As I balanced out from my erratic driving my body started to break into a cold sweat. Nausea was starting to set in and I began panting quickly. I tried turning up the air conditioner, flipping the vents so they pointed directly into my face. I breathed in and out, switching from heavy gasps of air to performing the Lamaze. I was trying to stabilize myself from the inevitable but it was too much. I had to pull over.

I flipped my blinker light on and began to slow down as I pulled onto the shoulder. I could feel the wump wump of the car as I drove over the grooved emergency lane surface. I reduced my speed from 80 mph to zero within seconds. Behind me, bearing down quickly in the right lane was a semi truck.

I knew that time was limited but I needed to keep my cool. Stressing out about the situation would only make things worse. I had to open the door yet I was too scared as the semi was close in proximity. Regrettably, I decided to hold it until the semi had passed.

Key word: Regrettably.

My left hand clutched at my mouth but much like the events of the mighty Hurricane Katrina, my hand proved just as weak as the levies of New Orleans. The flood of vomit was just too much and began to spray in every which direction. Without following any specific pattern, the puke lashed out at breakneck speeds, shooting at all angles, attacking everything my car had to offer; windshield, dashboard, steering wheel, radio, windows, locks, handles.

And of course there was me. I appeared to bear the brunt of my stomachs violent force. The insides of my nose were dripping, my mustache dampened, and my t-shirt, shorts, underwear and shoes had become a victim to the “Free Gallon Water Night” my stomach provided as a parting gift.

I hacked and coughed and slumped back into my chair. I looked at myself in the makeshift mirror on the driver side sun visor and said aloud, “What the fuck. I’m a twenty six year old male. How can this happen?”

And it was after this statement the ever-present odor of fermenting puke hit my nostrils. I kicked the door open and started the process all over again, spilling bile all over the emergency lane of I-74.

I unhooked myself from the seat belt and stumbled out of the car. I clutched at the body of the Honda, hugging the back and finally staggering over to the passenger side. I dropped to both knees and started retching again. My head and stomach kicking wildly while cars drove past, slowing down one hundred feet before and speeding up twenty five feet in proximity so that they needed not bear witness to the soaking wet twenty-something male acting as momma bird to a hungry highway.

When my stomach had finished playing it’s game of Sorry with my life, I looked up at the sky and took a heavy breath. I was relieved. I had coughed up what appeared to be two days worth of the recommended daily amount of calories. And at this point, realizing that I was just happy to be alive was quickly erased when I looked down upon myself. I was covered in head to toe with my own sick.

I had become my own personal bacteria farm.

I took off my shirt and threw it onto the passenger side floor. It was one of my favorites so I decided that I wasn’t going to let a little (or a lot of) puke sully a good piece of attire. I began to rummage through my bag of clothes. I removed my Hanna Montana shorts and decided that this would make for an ample rag. I started to dry off what I could in the car. The steering wheel, the chair, the windshield and the dashboard were my primary concerns and the magenta colored crap magnet proved to be a viable component to success. The rest of the car clean-up was managed by my underwear and my extra t-shirt acted as a towel for my body.

Which brings us to an interesting problem. I was plum out of clothes. Clean clothes at least. At this point it really shouldn’t have mattered but I still had the preference to at least try to keep as much bacteria and viral matter off of me as possible.

So, after much ado, I somehow was able to find two pieces of attire. A single white Hanes tank top and a pair of silver mesh shorts I purchased from the American Air Force Academy in Colorado. This was the end of the line in terms of my fashionable men’s clothing.

I took my remaining garb in my one hand and looked at the space available in the car and much like my clothing, it too had reached its limit. There was no where to change. The drivers seat was drying out, the passenger side floor was occupied with puked covered clothes while the seat was filled with electronic devices I was trying to dry off. In the back of the car were posters I wanted to keep mint while the other chair contained my bag and a large unfolded dome tent.

I lowered my head, sighed, and walked to the other side of the car. The dry wind of the Midwest whipped past my face as stood facing on coming traffic. As I watched and timed out the best possible moment, I unfastened my belt and let my pants and boxers hit the asphalt.

It was there at 12:05 p.m. on September 22nd of 2008, the whitest, sorriest sack of shit ever to grace Gods green Earth stood bare ass naked on the shoulder of I-74.

And with that I got back into my puke-covered cavern of a car and continued my trek down the interstate.

As I made my way down the road, I relaxed and tried to logically sort out my problems. First of all, I was still bothered by the fact I had to hit a toilet. Despite my stomach’s relentless oral assault, I didn’t want to chance it’s ire with anything from the anal cavity. To be cliché about it, he had already won the battle and I sure as shit didn’t need him to win the war. I also needed to get some kind of food into my system to at least make me feel normal again. I decided, that my best chance trying to clean myself up would come if I stopped in Champaign.

When I hit the more populated stretch of town I tried to figure out where to eat. I first pulled off on the Lincoln exit and quickly realized that there wasn’t much as far as chow was concerned so I hopped back onto the highway and made for Neil Street because I could at least remember there was a Taco Bell there.

However, the more I thought about it, the prospect of eating USDA grade D meat products when my stomach was already upset, along with the idea of bathing in the Taco Bell sink seemed to turn me sour. So I decided I would pop into the Panera. At least there was bread I could fill up on.

In the parking lot of Panera, I noticed that there was a lot of hustle and bustle. I glanced at my watch realizing that I had managed to land at the height of the noon lunch crowd. Despite this, I was able to grab the last available parking spot in the lot. Good luck appeared to be on my side.

Or not.

It didn’t take the thought process of a genius to deduce that my disheveled appearance would readily scare the denizens of Champaign, however when I passed an Army Sargent on the way to the bathroom I took special note of his facial expression – pure disgust. You could tell that in the back of his mind he was saying, “This is the America that I’m putting my ass on the line for? Fuuuuuuuuck That.”

These reactions were only amplified when finally saw myself in the bathroom mirror at the Panera on Neil Street.

My hair had become a wiry mess, the roots starting at the base level of the scalp and the ends criss-crossing to the point where it resembled a 90 car pile up on the Autobahn. On the right center of my head a ducktail stood up at a 45-degree angle, signaling to anyone who dare look in my direction that I had just raised my white flag to professionalism and dignity. My mouth was still covered with white crust from the 15-minute fight I had with my stomach, while my shoulders sagged to portray the image of personal defeat.

Top this off with the mustache, wife beater, mesh shorts, and a pair of puke covered sneakers and I looked like your run of the mill meth user who had just woken up from a night in the biohazard dumpster of an AIDS clinic.

And despite all of this, it wasn’t the worst part.

In my haste to get back onto the highway as quick as possible, I had forfeited the chance to adequately view myself with a reflective surface. Suffice it to say, because of this and my already hazy memory of the nights events, I hadn’t counted on the glitter.

As I looked at myself in the mirror, the small gold flecks began to sparkle with different intensities as the eco unfriendly incandescent lighting reflected and flared off of the various one-hundred flakes of pixie dust on my face, neck and chest.

The sentences, “possibly homosexual?” and “wanton crack whore” formed as captions under my visage in the mirror. I had gone from looking like a simple drug addict to what Bobcat Goldthwaits career has become: cheap, easy, an relativly unfunny.

Determined to rid myself of the past 30 minutes, I grabbed the sink handle and threw it upwards trying to draw out whatever hot water I could. I ran my hands through the stream and then took my fingers through the tiny Mount Everest in my hair. Like its big brother it stood tall and determined and refused to go down without a fight.

On my left was the soap dispenser, drilled into the counter next to the sink. I pushed down with my left hand and cupped my right hand underneath the spigot.

Nothing. Nothing other than the audible sound of suction, the sweet story of my life.

So I pushed again, harder and angrier. And after a litany of curse words left my mouth I walked out of the bathroom, past the everyday consumers, and into my car – dejected, rejected, and caked with puke and glitter.

I started the car and drove off from the Panera, deciding to wash up at the next best place a horrific stinking pile of shit might go to avoid all human contact – the mall. The mother fucking mall.

As with my previous encounter behind the wheel, this task proved to become a process as it took me over five minutes to find the mall entrance closest to the food court. However, after I parked, nothing could stop me from completing my goal of becoming 15 percent cleaner than I was just then.

I strode by the elderly climbing the staircase for their ride back to the home on their death house trolley. I passed up the mouthy young kids who had chosen a life of working retail rather than pursing the final two years of high school. All of them turning their heads as they watched the most determined man in the world bee line from the mall entrance to the bathroom.

And as I crossed the finish line, it was there that I could take no more. I glanced at myself in the mirror and instead of directly washing myself I staggered defeated and found the first clean stall that I could, dropped my mesh shorts and slumped down onto the toilet.

In my mind, I tried to conceptualize what had just happened. Not just the last thirty minutes but instead the whole weekend. What had I done? What had I learned? What will I just try to erase from my mind?

I let out a sigh. My hand caught my chin and braced it, and as gravity took my head my eyes became fixated on my newly minted and not so personally well received ankle piece. The words “Spun-In” completely visible. And slowly the terrible metaphoric irony overtook me – my day, much like others was just another hysterical, albiet painful unforgettable memory, much like my tattoo.

And as I sorted it out in my mind, a small smile crept over my lips and the tired faint sounds of my laughter echoed through the men’s bathroom walls.