I was awakened at an indecent hour on a recent morning by what I instantly recognized as the urgent need to make wee-wee. We’ve all been roused by the call of nature before, but this call was particularly insistent, like a telemarketer, one who was also, for some reason, screaming. Yes, it was like a screaming telemarketer inside my bladder — and it wanted out NOW!
I stumbled to the bathroom in the customary manner of a person who has gotten out of bed to urinate but wants to avoid truly waking up: eyes basically closed, conscious thoughts eschewed. Due to the acuteness of my need, however, I stumbled more hurriedly than usual, and in the process rammed my left foot directly into the door jamb. I said “Ouch!” (or something to that effect) and ignored the pain while I accomplished the task at hand, i.e., going whizz.
When I had finished, I stepped away from the toilet and noticed that where my left foot had been planted there was now a small pool of blood. What I had thought was merely a painful foot-bumping had in fact produced an impressive gouge in my middle toe, which had bled profusely while I was standing there dealing with the bladder situation. Glancing back, I saw that I’d left a trail of bloody toe-prints all the way from the doorjamb to the toilet. It was alarming and gross — but you have to remember, it was also five in the morning. I knew that if I gave any of this my full attention, it would wake me up completely and possibly ruin my remaining three (or four, or five — you’re not my mom) hours of sleep. The mere act of knowing this was itself almost enough to wake me up. I needed to get back to sleep, and fast!
I used a wad of toilet paper to clean off my toe and was relieved to find that the bleeding had basically stopped, which meant I could ignore it for a few more hours. Just in case, I put a sock on that foot — a clean sock, thank you very much — and went back to bed.
Then I forgot about it.
A few hours later, when I woke up for real and trundled toward the shower, I was shocked to find my bathroom resembling a crime scene. There were bloody toe-prints all over the floor, and a crimson pool on the rug next to the toilet. It took a couple seconds for the events of earlier that morning to return to my memory, and in the meantime I stood agape in horror like Norman Bates, unable to process what I was looking at. The lesson we learn from this is that one should always clean up one’s blood as soon as it is spilled, lest one forget about it and startle oneself with it later.
Now, that story reminds me of another one. When I was about 14, I was tangentially involved with the Boy Scouts, insofar as I was a Mormon teen and the Mormons’ youth program for boys was intertwined with Scouting. You didn’t have to be good at Scouting, or even interested in it, but if you went to the church-sponsored young men’s activity on Tuesday nights, there was a good chance you’d hear something about merit badges or knot-tying or good-deed-doing.
On this particular evening, we were being visited by a local fellow who was a professional fisherman, which is a real occupation. Actually, he made the bulk of his living not by fishing but by writing magazine articles about fishing, which somehow seems even less conceivable to me than making a living by fishing. But anyway, he was there to show the Boy Scouts his rod and reel — er, his bait and tackle — I mean, his equipment. Zowie!
Among the items he brought for our perusal were these rubber worms that worked on the same principle as real worms, that principle being that fish are stupid and will eat anything. Unlike real worms, the rubber worms were reusable and did not smell like worms and did not have to be dug out of the ground and did not wriggle obscenely when you had a bucketful of them. They looked like Gummi Worms, basically, only not edible (which is also true of Gummi Worms, but never mind).
So there were eight or ten of us sitting in a circle, passing around the fake worms and other fishing-related gizmos and doodads while the fisherman regaled us with stories about, I don’t know, probably fishing. We weren’t listening; we were playing with the gizmos and doodads he was passing around. When a rubber worm got to me, I inspected it with the natural curiosity of a bored adolescent who is desperate to find amusement however he can. I looked at it very closely, examining its texture and weight. I smelled it. I pulled on both ends of it to see how strong it was. The answer, I learned, was that it was not stronger than me, because I accidentally pulled it in half. Yes, even as a teen I had the power to tear thin rubber things apart without even trying!
In addition to possessing amazing strength, I was also very self-conscious as a teen, and I nervously looked around to see if anyone had witnessed my dumb accidental vandalism. No one had. My fellow Scouts and quasi-Scouts were busy looking at the other visual aids, and the fisherman was engaged in telling a story that I assume ended with him telling us how big a particular fish was, since that’s how all fishing stories end. So there were no witnesses to my act of destruction, but what was I going to do? I didn’t want to give two halves of a fake worm back to the guy and be like, “Uh, sorry, I broke your worm.” Instead, I chose to simply do away with the evidence. There were several of these worms being passed around; surely the fisherman wouldn’t notice if one didn’t return. I would just surreptitiously slide the worm halves into my pocket and that would be that.
Except it was summertime, and I was wearing shorts, and for some reason these shorts did not have pockets. Were they swim trunks? Had I worn swim trunks to church youth group/Boy Scouts? It’s entirely possible. It was a different time. Having furtively moved my hand down to my waist region in search of a pocket only to come up empty, I now panicked a little and just shoved the bisected worm into the waistband of my shorts.
Then I forgot about it.
A few hours later, I was at home, going about my business, when nature called. I walked blithely into the bathroom, stood at the toilet, and hitched my shorts down in order to gain access to the relevant apparatus — whereupon the forgotten worm halves tumbled out of my crotch and into the toilet. And for a split-second, I was as terrified as I’d ever been in my life because I thought my wiener had fallen off.
I recalled the facts of the situation soon enough, but in the meantime, in that fraction of a second … well, a lot of troubling thoughts passed through my mind, let’s just say that. The lesson we learn from this is that one should always dispose of the evidence of one’s crimes as soon as they are perpetrated, lest one forget about it and have a brief but harrowing existential crisis later.
A Year of Snide Remarks was funded by a Kickstarter campaign. This week’s column was sponsored by rap artist Prof’s latest album, “King Gampo.” Sponsor had no editorial control over the column, and the author alone is responsible for its content.