This piece from storyteller/author Samantha Irby will be featured in her upcoming book. She recently published MEATY through Curbside Splendor.
My freshman year of college I had the distinct pleasure of living next door to a couple of Grade A douchebags. The bro was called Nate and his brah went by Drew, and it was my first experience with the species inside its natural habitat, a medium-sized state school with a, uh, flexible GPA admissions requirement. Nate, though Jewish, had a touch of the tar brush and fancied himself a homie, as evidenced by his low slung baggy jeans and the insertion of out of context Snoop Dogg lyrics into almost every conversation. Drew was your typical west suburban, chest-thumping meatbag, with a body built for date rape and a giant shellacked red head that remained defiantly empty save for a handful of baseball statistics and whatever Greek letters you need to know to pledge the fraternity with the most lenient academic prerequisite. They weren’t bad dudes, even though Drew’s slicked-back hair and unironic gold chains sometimes made me want to punch him in the dick; I kind of felt bad that these dinosaurs were still working on BA’s in communications despite exorbitant amounts of graying hair. The three of us became unwitting “friends” because, in exchange for my discounted tuition, I had to post up at the overnight desk in the lobby of our dorm checking IDs while trying not to fall asleep or get vomited on. Those gentlemen loved the nightlife, and after several nights of staggering in drunk with no identification they recognized me on our floor and would call out, “Hey! Amanda!!” every time I walked past their open door on my way to watch Jerry Springer in the communal lounge.
“What’s my name, fool?” Nate said, letting himself into my room without knocking. Because I had let that asshole cheat off my biology final he’d offered to drive me back to Evanston for the two week winter break I was going to spend grudgingly listening to people I hated whining about how oppressive their courseloads were at Harvard while pretending I hadn’t just taken a 300-level math class at Northern Illinois in which the professor used rhymes to teach trig.
We were the last ones out of the dorm. Nate hauled the luggage while Drew carried what was left of a Budweiser-fueled McDonald’s run the week before: a crumpled bag fished from the trash filled with slimy old fries and reheated cheeseburgers, the bits of mold carefully dissected from each gristly patty, and the three of us slipped and fell across the parking lot while sideways winds blew snow directly into our faces. With Drew’s oversized frame wedged horizontally into the back seat he passed the food around as I struggled to breathe under the weight of what I can only assume were suitcases full of mesh tank tops and Cubs jerseys in the passenger seat, and Nate uneasily piloted his tiny car through the blizzard out of the student lot.
I shouldn’t eat old McDonalds. An hour on the road and we were only ten miles outside of campus as holiday traffic inched imperceptibly along. Drew was snoring peacefully in the back seat and I was leaning forward, squinting at the radio dial, trying to pick up a signal from DeKalb’s one decent radio station, when I felt something strike a match in the pit of my stomach. I ignored it, continuing to search vainly for strains of that one Third Eye Blind song everybody knows and hates. Droning Conservative talk radio. Artificially cheerful Christmas carols. The play by play of some football game being held in the middle of a corn field and there it was again, except this time it was slick, boiling oil churning through my large intestine at breakneck speed. “I need a bathroom,” I blurted, my armpits suddenly damp. “I need a bathroom, right now.”
Nate threw up his hands, helpless, gesticulating wildly toward the stretch of motionless cars in the icy tundra before us and, I don’t know, bleating like a teenage girl about how far the nearest exit was. I tried to distract myself by returning my attention to the useless radio. An eerie calm came over me as I felt another wave of molten lava break gently against my intestinal wall. “I am going to shit in your car,” I announced, surrendering to the inevitable. Drew awoke with a start and jumped out as Nate desperately yanked the car onto the shoulder and I kicked out of my expensive new boots. Drew snatched my door open, threw the suitcase I was holding into a snow bank with one hand and held the empty cheeseburger bag out to me with the other. “IN HERE,” he commanded.
Leaning my right side against the open car with my left arm wrapped around Drew’s leg for balance, I squatted, hopeful and relieved. And then I shit all over my jeans, legs, hand, and that greasy, disintegrating bag as good Christian people in Ford Tauruses pretended they weren’t trying to figure out what the hell was going on on the other side of Nate’s car. Nate tossed an NIU t-shirt to me and I fashioned it into a makeshift washcloth, GO HUSKIES, using a handful of melted snow to clean out the diarrhea that had splashed into my vagina. Nate hyperventilated inside the car, twisting the radio knobs like a man possessed while trying not to look at my shame. It roared to life, that bittersweet symphony song that was fucking everywhere in 1997 blasting out of the tinny speakers. And then the car died.
Listen to Samantha’s episode of It’s All True! from WBEZ powered by The Whiskey Journal:
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