Maybe I shouldn’t have had the strawberry camel milk for breakfast yesterday because something went very wrong this morning.
Woke up happy and early. Sipped Starbucks coffee and watched CNN. Took painful note of the escalating problems in Yemen, about 1,000 kilometers to our south.
Woke David up for his first day of spring-break camp. Instead of the usual 5:45 a.m. alarm for the next two weeks, the boy gets to sleep in until 7:30 a.m. every day. I served him peanut butter on toast as he watched CNN.
I washed then dried my hair. Put on a pair of black pants, and a long tunic-style dress. We weren’t even out of the air-conditioned apartment when I began sweating like a thing that sweats a lot. I recently read that camels barely sweat even in 120-degree heat. Pigs really don’t sweat that much either because they cool down in mud as soon as they feel uncomfortable.
Damn this middle age, in the middle east heat. I was prematurely sweating in anticipation of the heat outside. When I get damp, I also get grumpy. I was very snappy with David who seemed to be dillydallying or lollygagging. Is there a difference? If not, why are there two words? (That’s an example of my grumpiness.)
Fortunately, we got a cab quickly and headed off to his day camp. We had a nice driver who agreed to turn the air con up without argument. I was pleased to see so little traffic and the beautiful sky outside. I might have even hummed a bit.
Dee do dee dum da dee.
A tiny rumbling in my lower intestine made me pause for a moment. Then I went back to humming.
Hum de do da day.
The rumbling went from minor to major in 4 seconds. Fortunately we were only 4 minutes from our destination.
Do wap diddy do.
Uh-oh. Four minutes wasn’t going to be enough. I tried to think about puppies and kittens and to tell myself that I was fine.
You’re okay. You’re okay. You’re okay.
I was not okay. I was confused. Don’t people normally get at least 20 or 30 minutes from the first cramp to the big blowout? By my calculation, I was going to get it in 3 minutes or less. The tummy pain train was racing toward the rear tunnel. I looked around at the buildings outside the cab window for potential restaurants with restrooms. I could not identify such a place. It didn’t matter.
Time ran out.
My lower intestine decided to release its contents– mere moments after the belly aching began. Without going into details, just know that I was very glad to be wearing pants and a skirt. I decided that the best course of action was to pretend everything was fine. Travelers all over the world find themselves in this same situation every minute of every day. It’s a rite of passage. (And for me quite literally since I was a passenger.) My friend Peg experienced the great gut release on a public bus in rural Thailand. I tried to convince myself that I was lucky in comparison.
We pulled up at David’s school, where the camp is being held, and I slowly got out of the cab. I told the driver to wait for me. I was supposed to go to work, but clearly I need to go back home. In the meantime, the only place I was going was a restroom.
“Mom, you are walking funny. Are you okay?” David asked.
“Not really, where is the bathroom?” I answered.
He sat in the lobby while I teetered quickly into the women’s loo. I couldn’t find the light switch outside the stall, but my intestine was cramping again. I made it to the toilet just in time. Sitting there in the dark, I wondered how I’d clean myself up. If I opened the stall door to let light in, then anyone who came in would get a glimpse of me. I won’t share the details, but let’s just say that I’m glad Arab restrooms come with a spray nozzle. And because I’d doubled up on outfits, I was able to put my pants in the trash can.
I walked out as if nothing had happened.
“MOM! WHERE ARE YOU PANTS?” David screamed.
“I hated them,” I whispered, as walked to the drop-off area. My dress went down to my knees so I was still demure enough to pass for proper in Abu Dhabi.
I left my son in the good hands of the camp director and walked backwards to the main entry area. I found my driver, who took me home. Fortunately, he didn’t notice my lack of pants or that I smelled like rotting camel poo. In my building’s lobby, I prayed for an elevator all to myself. Alas, this was not a day for my prayers to be answered.
A woman in an Abaya — smelling of rare perfumes and looking like Amal Clooney — entered at the last-minute. Please, I prayed again, let her get out before me. It was not to be me. I had to shimmy around her to exit. I sense that she was very glad to get rid of me, due to my scent.
After a shower and a bath, I emailed my boss and said I wasn’t coming into work. Then I lay in bed and played the “what did this to me” game.
I’ve settled on the strawberry camel’s milk. What an absurd concoction. The words strawberry and camel don’t even belong in the same sentence let alone drink.
I tried to think nice thoughts for a while to get the bad images out of my head. After a while, I happily landed on the only good news to come out of this ordeal.
I can get a new pair of pants.