Chapter One is NOT the Beginning
I don't want anyone to be misled by the name of this story and assume that this event is the first humiliating thing that has ever happened to me. It is FAR from being the first and apparently, it is not even close to being the last. I have shared these stories with my friends over the years and although they love being on the receiving end of the tales, many can't understand why I would tell ANYONE if I didn't have to. My answer is usually, "Why not?"
I find that people are less intimidated and tend to like you better when you show your imperfections and can laugh at yourself. If something embarrassing happens to you, it doesn't define who YOU are. Plus, a good story is a good story.
Demerarra Bridge, Bridgetown, Guyana
My husband and I lived in Guyana, South America, for two years working as volunteers on a building construction site. It is a hot and humid country and the work was often physically demanding. About a mile from where we lived and 1/2 mile from the construction site was the great Demerarra River and the Demerarra Floating Bridge. The river empties into the ocean not far downstream, so there is always an ocean breeze. I got into the habit of walking to the bridge, running on the walkway the length of the bridge and back (2 1/2 mi.), and then walking back home. Running the bridge with the refreshing breeze and the sites and smells of the river could relax and clear my mind like nothing else could. This is where the story begins.
The Bridge Story
All week I had been sick feeling, you know the kind that isn't bad enough to stay home, but you just feel lousy half the time? To top it all off, I was constipated as well. Sometimes living in a foreign country can do that to you. After three days I finally broke down and took a laxative on a Saturday morning, but nothing happened. Pretty much slept the whole weekend. Then I decided that I needed to get out of my rut and start exercising again. I hadn't been all week, so I was determined to go running Sunday around 5 pm like I usually did and it started out great. It is important to remember that this is a floating bridge. It is attached to barges in the water, and it is 1.2 miles long. When I was more than half way across the bridge, I started to have a few stomach pains, and I was actually happy because I was thinking that moving was just the cure I needed for my constipation and that maybe now something would finally happen. Well, it did.
The pains started getting a little worse and I was really feeling like I was going to have to go soon. I was considering going to the guard shack on the other side of the river and asking if they had a bathroom I could use, but as I got nearer and looked at the small building they were in, I just couldn't do it. Plus, the pains had resided a little bit. I decided that I could make it back across and I would just walk to the construction site or the small KFC if need be.
I couldn't run anymore because that was too painful, but I was walking fast back across the bridge. Then I was walking a little bit slower. Then I was holding onto the rail and squatting down trying to get that intense urge to go away, but it did no good. I was going to crap myself soon and there wasn't a dang thing I could do about it. I couldn't go back to the guard shack because I had already gotten too far and without knowing if there was even a bathroom there, I couldn't risk giving up the distance I had gained.
Now I had broken out into a cold sweat and I was giving myself little goals to reach.....if I can just make it to the first hill......now, if I can just make it to the stairs...etc.(Explanation: There are two places where the bridge is elevated high over the water to allow boats to pass underneath...one is very high for the larger ships.) I was feeling pretty frantic because no matter how positive my thinking was, deep down I knew I wasn't going to make it. I seriously thought about waving a car down and asking them to drive me across, but I couldn't stop to think too much...I had to keep moving, which makes everything worse, by the way.
The Demararra Floating Bridge
Giving in was NOT an alternative since I still had a mile and ½ to get home even after I got off the bridge and couldn't bear the idea of #2 running down my legs in front of the hundreds of people I would have to pass. I was looking for a way to climb under the bridge as I walked and thought I knew of a place further up at the lowest spot where I would be able to climb down. Sure enough, when I got to that spot I had a decision to make.
I was in terrible agony by then, more from fear than pain and I sat on the step to see if that would "push" everything back up. I need to add for the record that "sitting" was the worst thing I could have done, but it did help make the decision for me. I squeezed through the fence and onto the barge under the bridge and as the cars bumped along above me, I pulled my shorts down to expose my bare bottom to anyone that may have been passing on the sidewalk and let it go!!
The whole thing took about 15 seconds, being under pressure and all. It just so happened that the MP3 player that I wore attached to my shorts irritated my skin and I had just started putting an old sock between the player and my stomach. That sock was a lifesaver, if you can imagine it's new purpose, and it is now history somewhere in the Demerarra River. I climbed back out onto the walkway and still the coast was clear and I easily walked the rest of the way back. I wasn't too cocky at this point, in fact, I was rather humbled and walked at a slower than usual pace and it was good that I did because as I was coming off the back path to the road by the construction site, I had another attack, albeit much smaller and less intense. I had enough time to walk to the site and had the guards let me in to use the bathroom. Now I really was fine and made it back to our house with no further incidents.
I feel that I can no longer complain about the color of the water in Guyana as I have made my own small contribution to keeping it brown. What did I learn from this experience? First of all, just because a laxative has not worked yet, does not mean that is NOT GOING to. Second, I learned that I am capable of doing whatever I have to do if I am desperate enough.
So now I need your input as to whether I should continue to share all the humiliating, embarrassing, idiotic things that happen with others or should I bury them so they'll never see the light of day? I would also love to hear any stories anyone else has. It might encourage me to write Chapter Two. Remember, you are not held accountable for the embarrassing things that happen to you, but by how you react to them.