Monday, May 18, 2009

The Chaperone

I have new found respect for school teachers. They really don't get paid enough for the time they put in trying to educate our children. And they certainly don't make enough for the time they endure just tolerating our children.

I volunteered to go on my son's 8th grade field trip to Washington, D.C. as a chaperone. I figured it would be a day off from work, a chance to see an important museum that I had never been to (U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum), and hang with my son's class and some of the moms that would accompany the trip as well (Mom's I would Like to have Fun with).

We're about 4 hours north of D.C., so when I was reminded that the buses would leave by 6:30am the notion of fun started to drift out the door. I'm not a morning person and I knew I would spend the night before trying to coax myself to sleep so I could get up at 5:30am and get showered, dressed and fed in time to leave.

At about 1:30am I was pounding my pillow. "Fuck, I have to fall asleep."

Too late to take a sleeping pill (because you need 7-8 hours sleep time) and too late to get any reasonable rest. As I kept stressing and trying figure out if any of my body parts were getting tired, the alarm rang. It was 5:30am!

I got up, assessed the situation, felt the heaviness in my head and knew it was going to be a crappy day.

I forced myself to shower, shave and dress. I prepared some breakfast, cleaned up the dishes and ran upstairs to the bathroom. I had one more important thing to do.

If I couldn't take a dump right away, my next chance would be at a rest stop along Route 95. And I knew my sphincter would not cooperate then. I had ten minutes to try at home and as soon as I sat down, I knew it was going to be fruitless.

I thought briefly about busting open the enemas I had bought for Mother's Day, but I knew there would be multiple minor temblors after the initial eruption. I just didn't have the time or place for that risk.

So, I hopped in the car with my son and raced down to the school to meet at the appointed time.

We would be a three-bus convoy and I was on bus #2. It was a cool bus. Some nice moms and kids seemed okay. But as soon as I sat down I heard a sneeze. The chubby, Asian girl with glasses, who was sitting one row behind me on the other aisle leans over to her neighbor and says, "I have a cold." She proceeds to blow snot out of her nose for a good 20 seconds, then finishes up with a few coughs.

What dumb-ass parent thinks it's okay to send their germ-infested child on a hermetically-sealed bus for 4 hours each way? I'll tell you who, a parent who doesn't want that kid in their own house for the day.

Well, I'm a bordering hypochondriac. I can't stand enclosed space and the germs that go with it. And when I hear coughs or sniffles, I freak out. I start holding my breath and try to clear out of the perimeter. I'd rather inhale someone else's fart than risk the possibility of some rhino virus getting into my body.

Every time she expelled mucus serum from her head, I would give her the evil eye. Of course, she never saw me do this but it was a way to channel my anger at her selfishness. Did she really need to go to Washington and visit the Holocaust Museum? She's Asian, what affinity did she have to that history? None. Get off the bus.

For the next 4 hours, I would not only think about the germs floating through my air space but I would also listen to 39 other school children screech, shriek, shrill and squeal. Again, my heart goes out to these teachers. They must have olfactory fatigue because they didn't seem bothered by this cacophony. I couldn't believe the calmness these teachers exhibited. But, if the teachers weren't reacting, then I knew I couldn't either.

Finally, the noise on top of the impaction I was beginning to feel in my bowels caused my body to just give way and pass out. It was an overpowering heaviness that beset me and it was welcomed.

I don't know what awoke me. It could've been the awkward slant of my head that now caused a muscle spasm in my neck, or it could've been the asshole that was beginning to paint the other half of the handlebar mustache on my face. Thank goodness it was just a mascara pen instead of the typical black Sharpie used at many colleges these days.

I was able to smear it off my face, so I didn't get too mad. Besides, there were too many witnesses around and I knew jabbing the mascara holder into the kid's eye would not go over well with the other mom's or PTO.

We arrived in D.C. and entered the museum. All I could think about was my consitpation. I knew nothing would budge until I got some more food on top. I was hoping further digestion would cause some act of peristalsis.

I tried to empathize with the victims and their stories, but I was beginning to feel like one myself. I always wondered if I would have survived back then, crammed into cattle cars, living on wooden bunks in freezing cold barracks, having little sustenance and constant humiliation with death all around.

No. I wouldn't make it. As soon as my sphincter saw the horrid conditions of the transports to the camp, it would seize up and never let go. A slow death of poop buildup would occur. I would beg for a bullet right then and there.

I told the group I was chaperoning that I was going to be a little slower because I wanted to read all the exhibit signage. I told them to feel free to walk ahead and just meet up at the gift shop at the end (btw, what kind of gifts do they have in Holocaust museum?).

Their faces lit up and we both dispersed in opposite directions. They ran past the Dr. Mengele experiment exhibit and I ran to the Men's Room to unleash my own version of Allied bombing.

But, as was typical, throughout most of the war, there were no direct hits on the camps. I came up empty and now my body was retaliating. My legs felt weak, I imagined toxic fluids ciruclating throughout my body, and I sensed as if something was moving up my chest to the bottom of my throat. I was stuffed to the gills and not in a good way.

I couldn't really focus on the rest of the exhibit so I made my way to our pre-determined meeting spot, and sat there, hunched over trying to control the bloating that was going on in my mid-section.

I don't know how long I was there feeling miserable. My intestines felt like they had concrete packed into them but strangely enough I was a bit hungry. I vacilated between what to do when I noticed the children beginning to assemble around me. It was time to go.

On the bus, everyone took their same seats, even the sniffling Asian girl. I clenched my teeth and focused on the business at hand - trying to encourage some movement. Somewhere around the Maryland/Delaware border, the engine began to leave the station. Now, what was I going to do?

There wasn't a scheduled rest stop for another 45 minutes. I looked up the long aisle to the back of the bus. Against the wall were three seats and a door - a bathroom door - and lots of kids.

I knew there would be some risks going in there but there would be greater consequences if I didn't. Nobody lives down the notoriety of being the one who poops in their pants at school.

Once in the bathroom, I sat down and did the best I could. Even with the encouraging muscle movements I had felt, things were going to take a while, but I was in for the long haul.

About ten minutes later, there was banging on the door. One of the kids said he needed to go to the bathroom urgently. I told him to wait a few more minutes, but I knew it would be longer. I pushed, I sweated, I tried to move the barge against the current but not much happened. Every time I felt something positive, the bus would sway a bit and I would have to switch my muscle concentration to hold onto the seat.

A few more bangs. "I'm going to throw up. Let me in," another kid said. Sorry, I'm not opening up right now I told him. The kid kicked the door.

"Go away, " I screamed and then things went silent.
I guess that scared him. I worked a bit more and completed enough of the mission to feel like I could make it home safely and could spend more time on the mining operation.

I opened the door, and the bus was empty. We were at a rest stop and everyone had cleared off. At least I didn't have to take the walk of shame in front of them. I went to my seat and passed out.

I must've slept the next two hours because when I awoke we were back at the school and kids were disembarking. I felt refreshed and a little bit lighter. I got off the bus and my son was waiting for me.

"What's wrong with you?," he asked.

"Whaddya mean?," I responded.

"You clogged the toilet. The place stunk back there."

"Oh, I'm sorry. I had to go." My son shook his head and walked to the car. I thought it would be best if I slinked away as well. I felt the glare of a couple of moms so I started to walk.

"Excuse me," I heard someone say.

I turned nervously and saw the chubby Asian girl standing there. What the hell did she want?

"Thank you for chaperoning the trip. It was a lot of fun," she said. She blew her nose and then stuck out her hand for me to shake.

Oh, please not that. But I guess I deserved it after the toilet incident. I offered my hand. She reached forward and grabbed it with a moist, clammy grip.

"Thank you, " I said. "Your nose is dripping."

1 comment:

  1. That's funny stuff - aren't you glad you got out of the office for a day?