Twelve years ago, on a day not unlike today, I woke to the chirping of birds and the fiery glow of sunlight saturating the green of the back yard. I opened the window to the back bathroom to take in a breath of fresh morning air and there he was – that fat, juicy jet-plane of a housefly that I had cruelly confined between the windows the day before. Cruelty is not my cup of tea, but that particular day I was capable of anything. After a week and a half of on-and-off rain, the day had been a total wash from start to finish. I woke up from a despairing dream that left a knot in my back the size of a tennis ball. Everything I did felt as if it were a futile escape from the molten core of that knot. And everything was. Anyway, that day as I was vainly trying to poop out my sorrow in the back bathroom, a fly – one of those big fatties as I said – kept dive-bombing me and buzzing about my head. After taking a few swipes at him with a dirty rag, he finally landed on the window screen and – without hesitation – I slammed him into his prison cell. After a minute or so of helpless buzzing around he sat motionless, seemingly watching the downpour and (so I imagined) contemplating the heinousness of the wrongdoing he had perpetrated against me. All day long, when I came in to take a leak or brush my teeth, I stopped to check in on my little P.O.W., each time feeling a little more guilty, but not enough to grant clemency. The following morning, with the sun shining and the birds chirping and all, I finally had a mind to set things right, but when I flung open the window, my little buddy didn’t so much as stretch his wings. I pursed my lips and let out a gust of breath as a wake up call, but the little fat fly just slid across the windowsill like a tree branch over a frozen lake. I waited too long. It was too late.
A few months later I broke my leg during a particularly boisterous (and awesome) jam session in the band room. I was singing and stomping and spinning and jumping off amplifiers. Somehow, I stomped so hard that I cracked the plateau of my tibia. I’d need to be on crutches for several weeks. One morning as I hobbled along in that back bathroom, just before I reached the toilet, one of my crutches went right through the linoleum, through the rotten wood underneath, and straight down to the ground underneath the house. I put a board over the hole and left it at that, knowing from past experience the futility of notifying the landlord. A strange thing occurred to me as I sat on the toilet, resting my right foot on the edge of the board and staring at the box of Arm and Hammer Fabricare Detergent that was sitting on the washing machine across from me. I noticed that the box had the words “Deep Cleaning” printed on the front. That started the following train of thought:
Deep cleaning… That’s what Arm and Hammer Fabricare Detergent is. It’s what it does. An overused word – deep that is, while its inverse, peed, well, you hardly ever see that in print. “Took a leak” you might see every once in a while, but not so much “peed.”
Insane, I know, but this is just a taste of what it’s like to be in my head. The conversation (with myself) continued:
Have you ever been taking a shower somewhere, like in a hotel or something, and suddenly realized that you’re in one of the few places where it would be just fine if you pissed all over yourself. You know, just to have the experience. You can aim it right at your feet or kneecap and just flat-out urinate on yourself. It’s kind of exhilarating, isn’t it, like when you’re out in the woods and you can just let it go without aiming it anywhere – the old “hands-free pee.”
Contemplation, I think it’s called. A few moments before reaching satori I suddenly recalled how John and I had often discussed how liberating it might be to set aside a special night and, intestines willing, crap our respective pants. Just poop ourselves, right there in our Levis, and then ponder it a while, letting the experience sink in, feeling the warmth, the texture, the shame of it all maybe too. We actually talked about this, about sitting together in the living room and pooping our pants, as if it would be some kind of sacred bonding experience, like doing shrooms out in woods or becoming blood brothers.
My leg eventually healed, and one night we all went out to the Cat’s Cradle to see the rock band Guided by Voices. By this time, our house was known for its raging after-hours parties, and sure enough the guys from Guided by Voices turned up at our house at about 2am. Everybody but the main guy, the singer, Bob Pollard. Truth is, I didn’t really give a fuck about the rest of the band, so instead of shmoozing with them I went to the band room to rock out. I took the lead on a cover of The Who’s “I Can’t Explain”. I knew that Bob Pollard was a big Who fan, and so I was trying to go all Pied Piper on him, hoping he might eventually stumble in and jam with me. When it became clear that he wasn’t going to show, I passed the mic to someone else and went to the back bathroom to take a leak. The door was slightly ajar, and pushing it open I was taken aback to discover the other Guided by Voices guys hanging out in there with some girls, smoking cigarettes and preparing a line of coke on the back of a CD case. It was a Guns N’ Roses album, the one with all the unplugged acoustic songs, like “Patience.” I was concerned someone had filched my copy from my bedroom. Just as I was about to back out the door, something truly extraordinary happened.
I noticed a fly buzzing around the room, a big, fat, juicy fly. “It couldn’t be!” I thought, and that thought (along with however many beers I had pounded up till then) produced a wave of excitement so powerful that I pooped my pants right there on the spot. We’re talking the Hershey Squirts – right in front the girls and the guys from Guided by Voices and the line of coke and the half empty bottles of beer. In a panic, I grabbed for the box of deep-cleaning Arm and Hammer Fabricare Detergent, and without stopping to think things through I dumped a whole lot of the white powder down the back of my pants. With that, everyone began to laugh hysterically, everyone except John, who was by this time standing outside the door surveying the scene. He was weeping like a war widow. “You did it without me!” he wailed, and before I could explain myself, he began to strain, red-faced and eyes bulging, holding his breath until at long last letting out a groan that sounded like a grizzly caught in a bear trap. Everyone fell dead silent. All eyes were locked onto John, as his face slowly began to twist from a grimace to a wry smile. The room filled with the odor of a freshly pinched loaf. Before anyone could say a word, John raced toward me, arms outstretched, and gave me a big bear hug. Then we started spinning each other around the room like lovers in a field of daisies. The bathroom was big, but not that big, and in our exuberance we accidentally knocked over the box of Arm and Hammer Fabricare, spilling the remainder of its contents right onto the Guns N’Roses CD and the line of coke. With this, one of the girls started screaming, and by then the stench in the room had become so disgusting that the bass player for Guided by Voices puked, in projectile fashion, against the side of the washing machine. This triggered a chain reaction whereby we all began vomiting all over the floor and each other, all the while the one girl screaming like a banshee. In the midst of the commotion, I slipped on some vomit and fell back onto the floor, knocking the board off the crutch hole as I reached my hand back to catch myself. Then another truly extraordinary thing happened. To everyone’s utter shock and amazement, a human head suddenly popped up through the hole in the floor. It was Bob Pollard, the lead singer of Guided by Voices. He had a big smile on his face as he shouted, “Did I hear I Can’t Explain? I love that song!”
After that, the details get a little fuzzy. We may or may not have played a few hands of poker, and I think someone spilled some beer on my left shoe, soaking the lace all the way up to the knot. Maybe it was the right shoe. I can’t say for sure. But the last thing I recall is looking high up on the wall and seeing that fat, juicy fly. He seemed to be waiting patiently for the place to clear out so he could wallow about in the muck and mire. It must have looked to him like Fly Disneyland.