Caught With Your Pants Down

Ottawa XPress, August 26, 2004

For a lot of people, summer time means vacation time and what a time that is. Heading up to the cottage for a month or catching up on reading, gardening or drinking at your local.

One summer, when I was 13, Dad took us to Florida. We spent some time at a beachside resort in Key West. I stayed in the hotel room most of the time though because I had a First Choice Haircutters boy haircut and I was flat-chested. Hardly the epitome of beach bum babehood. And that’s an understatement.

As if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, my divorced father in red Speedos kept checking out the ladies. Then at the Clearwater Hotel during dinner, I almost shit myself.

Seriously – I had some kind of vicious flu bug and the debilitating cramps began attacking my innards. I thought I could make it through the meal in moderate pain.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

All of a sudden I had to bolt to the elevators and head for my room as fast as I could! But then, fate took over and my bowels started doing a rapid disco and you guessed it, they moved as fast as they could! All over the bathroom floor.

The problem was the hotel floors were made up in this miniature-squared tile type of deal and so what got stuck in the crevasses, like, really got stuck in the crevasses. Between painting the floor a deep shade of brown – a richness that could one-up Benjamin Moore – and having the worst pains I would ever, ever experience in my entire life, I got to thinking that if the worst was possible on a summer vacation, this was it.

Reminiscing about that experience got me thinking beyond scatological catastrophes on holiday and about the embarrassing experiences we find ourselves in day to day.

What’s the most embarrassing thing that can happen to you, really? Farting at the movies? Tripping on a flip-flop in front of a cute guy? Pert nipples on a cold day?

The best was an old boyfriend of mine who used to wear my combat pants around the apartment. He’d sometimes wear them out in public, which was fine by me providing he remember that these Irving Rivers army pants have a double north- and south-bound zipper, for easy access, presumably for a quick piss during the war.

We’d be lying there on the couch watching a movie and I would look over at him to see his willy staring right at me. Hardly camouflage pants at that point. The one time I went to send the north-bound zipper south, I nicked his ballsack in the zigzag. He yelped but was rather polite about it all but I could tell, guys don’t like their girlfriends playing with their zipper for that reason alone and decided I wouldn’t worry about his from now on.

Then one day he came home, looking a little quiet and shy to his usual outgoing nature. He told me how he was working out at the gym, in those same pants, and couldn’t figure out why everyone was staring at him. To be sure, he was a hottie, and people checked him out all the time.

But this time was different.

Sure enough, he had been caught with his zipper up and his dingle dangling out! Legs spread, right there at the peck deck machine.

It’s when you’re caught off guard, that upset is its most colourful. Like the time this same guy and I were on our first date at the National Arts Centre last summer. We had had a nice sushi dinner and were enjoying a hilarious Bernard Shaw play.

We had a blast and so did my ass at the quietest part of the fucking play.

All of a sudden, and out of nowhere, my intestines waged war against the sushi during a moment of silence during an otherwise uproarious play. A big rumbling sound emanated from deep within me and nothing actually came out but like you can tell the difference! I started to have a panic attack at the thought that my gut would sound off again in the company of Mr. Hottie.

I excused myself from the theatre, rubbing my abdomen apologetically, blaming it on the sushi, wondering if I was about to shit all over the NAC floors!

By the time I got back, it was intermission and my date was coming up the stairs with my purse to rejoin me, suggesting we get me some ginger ale and some soup.

The next day, my coworkers asked me how the date went. The women were forgiving and understanding: “These things happen, Sylvie, don’t worry, I’m sure he’ll understand.” The men were unapologetically cruel: “Well, you literally blew that one!”

I did have another date with this guy, then another and another. And to this day, he claims he heard nothing that night. What a gentleman, who can make an honourable trait of deafness and ignorance.

They say the key to a happy relationship is a bad memory. I say it’s also about accepting each other at our most pathetic, which is often, our most hilarious.

– Sylvie Hill