Chapter 22 – A Filthy, Filthy Habit
By the time we pulled into the bus station, night had already fallen in Siem Reap. Like our arrival to Phnom Penh, we’d been surrounded by all types of “sportos, motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies and dickheads” shouting prices and competing with each other to take us to our destination. Unfortunately, none of the drivers in the crowd claimed to be the brother of Mr. Chan who was due to pick us up. We were at a loss for what to do.
Just when the situation was looking its bleakest and we’d decided to begin the grueling process of sifting through the herd for an honest fare, a tiny man with a pervy pencil mustache that’d been holding a cardboard sign over his head parted the crowd and came trudging through to the front. On the sign had been the name “Spanky” scribbled in permanent marker. With “Spanky” being the bullshit pseudonym that I’d written out for Mr. Chan to convey to his bro over the phone, there was little room for doubt that this tardy jabroni had been our guy.
“Sorry I’m late,” he said, “but I was busy buying these.” The little guy reached out and handed us a grocery bag full of frosty Phnom Penh beers. “I wanted to get them right before picking you up to ensure they’d be cold.”
“Ohoh, nice! Thanks man.”
“No problem. How was your bus ride?”
“Uh, it wasn’t bad.”
“That’s good to hear,” he said as he reached out to Kathleen. “Here, allow me to help with your bags.”
“Oh, thank you,” she said. “I’m Kathleen, nice to meet you.”
“You are very welcome. My name is Mr. Tino and it’s very nice to meet you as well.”
He turned his attention to T.R. Osh.
“Hey, I’m Tim,” he stuck his hand out for the shake. “Thanks for bringin’ the beer, man. That’s huge.”
“You’re very welcome.”
He then looked over at me.
“And you must be Spanky. It’s nice to meet you.”
“Yeah, that’s me,” I said. “It’s nice to meet you too, Mr. Tino.”
“Alright,” he said, “shall we get going?”
Not wanting to spend any more time than we had to hanging out at the sleazy Siem Reap bus station after hours, we hopped aboard the tuk tuk and were on our way. Mr. Tino started driving while we cracked open ice cold beers in the back of his ride. With liquid fun to make the distance to the hostel seem a lot shorter than it really was, we’d arrived in no time.
As we approached the stoop of a place called Home Sweet Home, I noticed it’d been one of those “remove your footwear before entering” type facilities. While adding my shoes to the pile just outside the door, I couldn’t help but be reminded of past experiences – rather unpleasant ones at that – in which I’d felt obligated to do so.
Over the years while running a residential window washing operation, my father had decided to employ a “shoes off at the door” policy. This plan of action originated long before I joined the squad and had been implemented after my dad pulled a legendary, rug-massacring boner in the middle of some wealthy Italian’s immaculately white-carpeted museum of a living room. As he began to sponge, squeegee and diaper-dry the first window on the inside of this pristine property, my old man noticed an imperfection out the corner of his eye but was afraid to look – for he’d had a pretty good idea of what’d been amiss at the previously unadulterated estate. Slowly turning and hoping it’d all been just his ‘magination, my father looked down at the hideous sequence of muddy footprints leading right up to where he’d been standing. All the money he would’ve made washing windows at the house that day was given right back to the owner to hire a carpet cleaning service. After that, my dad put his foot down on the issue. There’d be no more shoes worn in the homes of window washing customers.
Whereas the majority of our customers’ houses had been well-kept, a few were borderline hoarder disaster areas. When the interior of their homes remain so horribly disheveled, it makes me wonder why the owners are even having their windows washed to begin with. I mean, I gotta figure that cleaning up the years-old stacks of newspapers and the dog shit smashed in the living room rug takes precedence over scraping bird shit off the outside windows, but it doesn’t always. It’s something that I’ll never understand.
Because of my old man’s preventative measure, the residences of our customers remain safe from mud-tracking catastrophes. At the same time, however, the residents of my sock drawer have suffered a devastating blow. During their many tours of duty, each of my cotton-made foot soldiers have fallen victim to some cruel twist of fate involving pet hair, people pubes and food crumbs. An unlucky few have even absorbed puddles of badly aimed geriatric piss while washing bathroom windows. It’s a day-ruining feeling knowing I not only have to walk around with that stuff touching me, but also that I’ve got no choice but to put the pube-caked piss socks back in my shoes when the job is done, thus getting the shit all over the soles and ensuring the nastiness will be rubbed off on every future pair of socks I stick in the kicks.
Before I’d worked with my dad and not including running outdoors without shoes, stepping in god-knows-what at McDonald’s Playlands and all the other innocuous sock-ruining habits I had as a little shaver, I vividly recall the first time a pair of my socks had been destroyed by an unsavory environment.
The day of my devastation had been back in about fifth grade when I’d gone with a couple of my buddies, Cahill and O’Shea, to our bro Mac’s house. At that point I’d been living in the neighborhood for a couple years and had a fair amount of friends that I’d invite over to my house to go swimming and what not but, for whatever pussy-ass reason, I was never really big on going to play at other kids’ houses and I guess this incident kind of reinforced that behavior.
Back as a bright-eyed ten-year-old who grew up in a spotless house kept clean by a mother who’s bothered by as little as a few crumbs on the kitchen floor, I didn’t think it possible for a home in my neighborhood to have conditions unsafe for socks. It was something unfathomable to me. I mean, we all knew that Mac slept in his school uniform, didn’t brush his teeth and was rumored to have participated in weekly backyard showers that consisted of his parents spraying him down with a hose, but for someone’s house to be dirty?
“Nah, not a chance,” my grade school logic told me. “That sort of thing only exists in West Virginia trailers where Bud-guzzling meth-head dads with BBQ stains on their white wife-beaters slap around toothless, hill-rod, blimp mothers who remain unaware of their pregnancies until babies come unexpectedly tumbling outta their crotches.”
Boy, was I in for a rude awakening.
“What are you doing!?” O’Shea asked as I went to remove my shoes at Mac’s backdoor.
“Are you insane?” Cahill added.
“What are you talking about?”
“Your shoes,” O’Shea said, “you do not wanna be takin’ them off in here – trust me.”
“Well, my mom told me I should take my shoes off in other people’s houses. It’s a sign of respect.”
“Ha!” Cahill laughed. “Whatever dude.”
I shrugged and went ahead with the sneaker removal while my two bros walked right ahead into the kitchen.
“Sign of respect,” I could hear O’Shea saying as he began peeling a banana, “do you believe this guy?”
“No,” Cahill said as he flipped the ceiling fan onto high blast, “he has no idea what he’s talking about.”
As I took my first step onto the kitchen floor to rejoin my buddies, my socks stuck to the tiles the way Marv’s had in Home Alone while trying to walk up the tar-covered stairs from the McAllister’s basement. With each step, it became more difficult than the last for me to move forward. To my friends, my struggle appeared obvious.
“Told ya so,” Cahill said.
“Yeah, told ya so,” O’Shea repeated before tossing the banana into the whirling blades of the ceiling fan. “Woohoo!” he shouted as liquefied Chiquita sprayed all over the walls and cabinets.
Cahill then grabbed a can of Spam that’d been sitting on the counter.
“Let’s go take this shit and hide it under Mac’s mattress – see how long it takes for him to notice it’s there.”
“Yeah, let’s do it,” O’Shea concurred then looked back at me. “Yo, next time you gonna listen to me and leave your fuckin’ shoes on?”
I nodded and whimpered, wanting never again in my life to be stuck in a position so awful – one where I felt so powerless against a floor stickier than I could ever imagine.
Seeing the pile of shoes left outside that Cambodian hostel in such a vulnerable position had also triggered another memory – one not pertaining to the cleanliness of socks. Strangely enough, it reminded me of the time I’d decided to shit in a pair of unattended sneakers that I’d found back in college. Before I get to that tale, however, I feel it’s essential you know a little bit more about my background so the act doesn’t seem so incredibly random.
As a young punk, everywhere I went I’d find myself scouting for hilarious places to pinch one off just in case the opportunity would arise. It was like an addiction. It was like every unattended white glove wanted me to show it some forbidden chocolate love. Every Mercedes and Beamer was dying for me, on them, to perform a windshield Cleveland Steamer. And yes, every time someone was trusting enough to leave behind a shoe, a wicked voice inside my head coaxed me to nab them and to fill them with poo.
Although this seems like quite a unique deviation from the norm, back in my neighborhood growing up, pretty much everyone I’d hung out with had enjoyed squeezing out scat-bombs in places anywhere but the recommended locale. “All the cool kids were doing it,” if you will.
One of the shitters most dedicated to the cause had been my buddy Jack. At least twice a week, at the same time, in the same stall, in the same math hallway bathroom for the four years of our high school existence, Jack used to hang his ass off the side of the toilet seat and take a shit on the floor for no reason. He even went so far as to carve a tally into the back of the stall door labeled “Poos in School” to keep track of his stats. Although his work wasn’t the most creative, his perseverance has earned him a spot in the hall of fame.
Another regular in the game had been my buddy Mickey. One time back in high school, Mickey took a shit in someone’s bathtub at a Park Ridge house party. Of course, this is about as animalistic as it gets by most standards, but he decided it wasn’t enough and stepped his game up to the next level.
“You can’t plan that sort of thing. I act only in spontaneity,” Mick once explained to me of his art. “You see, when I shat in that bathtub, it’d been an empty shell – a butterfly waiting to bust out of its cocoon. When I saw my spawn sitting there on the floor of the tub all alone, I felt inspired to do something more. So, I went ahead and unscrewed the showerhead, then picked up the piece of poo with a handful of Kleenex and jammed it up into the piping. I then replaced the showerhead and left,” he laughed. “I guarantee the next person that went to cleanse himself in that bathroom was covered in little spaghettis of my shit.”
Of course, Mick’s legendary dump is a throwback from our prime and none have come close to outshining it. Nevertheless, to this day, the reindeer games still continue. Back home, my buddies Luzz and Sween tell me that, recently, they’ve been focusing all their attention on a specific target. After routinely getting hammered off their asses on thirties of PBR, these two clowns have made a habit of breaking into the garage belonging to the parents of a former grade school classmate where they take turns pissing in the gas tank of the lawnmower and never leave without dropping a drunken dump in the same spot on the middle of the floor.
“Oh my god,” I can hear someone saying, “these guys are in their twenties now and they’re still doing this shit? Wow, they really need to grow the fuck up.”
Okay, okay. I can understand that point of view. But you need to understand that, back in the day, this sort of thing had been done all the time. That was just what we did. We got together and shit on things for a laugh. It was a way of life. And when I packed this habit up and brought it to college with me, I had a hard time understanding why people were so appalled when I’d just drop my pants and take a shit on something that I’d felt deserved to be shit on. Most of my classmates had never seen or even heard of such a thing and were blown away by this type of behavior.
During my four years at Marquette University, I shat in places including but definitely not limited to a plate which I then slipped into a neighbor’s refrigerator, the middle of a neighbor’s phonebook (around the last names starting with “L” or “M”) which I then smooshed closed before returning it to the place from where it was found, off a neighbor’s fire escape and, to help our janitor get into the Halloween spirit, into a pumpkin which I’d bought, carved and decorated specifically for the purpose of shitting into and leaving for said custodian in the dormitory bathroom.
On my last day ever in the dorms, I helped my ex-girlfriend move some stuff out of her room. In return, she gave me her microwave which she told me she no longer had any use for. At the time, I’d already had my own microwave not to mention the one that came with the house I was about to move into. Instead of thinking to donate the unneeded appliance to the less fortunate or anything like that, my first instinct had been to accept the gift with a gracious smile, take it up to my dorm room and then shit in the motherfucker. Disgustingly enough, this was a bastardized whim with which I’d decided to follow through.
Following the removal of my last belongings from Schroeder Hall, it was time to get down to business. After setting a piece of foil on a paper plate and then holding it under my asshole while I squatted and took a fat-ass dump on it, I wiped myself clean, stepped out of the bathroom and into the common room where I’d plugged the ex’s microwave into the wall. I then placed the plate of poop inside the machine, set it for twenty minutes, shut the door and hit the start button. I stuck around for the first minute or so of the particle rearrangement and, I’m not gonna lie, it was pretty fuckin’ cool. The zigging and zagging of the lightning bolts as they shot at the foil from every direction made my dump look like it’d been being smitten by angry gods.
“It’s alive!” I remember thinking to myself. “This is the greatest thing I’ve ever done.”
Then, with about eighteen-and-a-half minutes remaining until the crap was fully cooked, the poo started to bubble and smoke as the unmistakable stench of microwaved feces filled the air of the common room. It had been one of the foulest smells I’d ever encountered in my entire life. Moments later, it became too much for me to bear. I walked out the room, left the dorms and never went back again.
One time a group of my peers – future doctors and lawyers of America, mind you – had tossed a dead, fly-covered raccoon onto the porch of the same neighbors whose phonebook I’d shit into the year before. Everyone had been laughin’ it up. Everyone thought it was pretty funny as it was. But I thought it could be better. So, I decided to steal the show and take a dump on the dead raccoon. After jumping up there and squatting over the thing with my pants at my ankles, I tried my best to force one out but nothing would come. I pushed and pushed but the crowd became impatient. In humiliation, I’d eventually pulled my pants up and walked away from the flattened raccoon that remained as poo-less as it’d been before I’d assumed the position. Since I come from a background where shitting on stuff is such a time-honored tradition, I honestly think I’d felt more inadequate that day from not being able to defecate on a deceased animal than I ever had during the times I was plain old too drunk to get an erection for whatever bar slut I managed to take home for the evening while out on the town.
Although others might not agree, I’d like to make a point of saying that whether refrigerated, cooked or served at room temperature, all of the errant shits I’d taken over the years were taken in good fun. As mentioned, the most relevant to the “no footwear” policy at the hostel in Cambodia had been the time I shit into a pair of unattended shoes I’d found during my time at college. Now that you’re a bit more educated on the subject, here’s what you’ve all been waiting for.
The year was 2007. I was a less-than-mature alcoholic freshman living in a cylindrically shaped dormitory known as McCormick Hall at Marquette University. “Men and women for others,” I think had been our school’s motto at the time. Amidst one of my otherwise usual hungover Saturday mornings, I found myself in an uncomfortable situation. I’d been laying in the top bunk trying to sleep but it just wasn’t happening. In the bunk below, my roommate had been stickin’ it to his slam piece and they hadn’t been too discreet about it either. The moans, the groans, the thrusts and the pumps had been keeping me from my beauty sleep. It was giving me a headache. Since it’d been a cold rainy morning in a Milwaukee March, I didn’t know where I was gonna go, but I decided to remove myself from the equation.
I hopped out of bed, ignored the boning on the bottom bunk and stepped out into the hall. Without even having taken my hand off the doorknob when I closed the portal on the rogering within, I felt a sudden urge to release a chocolate hot dog. Lo and behold, two doors down there’d been a sad and alone pair of shoes sitting in front of Room 517. The fates had aligned.
Room 517 had been a dorm belonging to Jeremy, an athlete, and Jae, a Korean kid whose name translates to “respect” which, unfortunately, is the exact opposite of what I’d showed those guys on that day. I never figured out to whom they belonged because bringing up the subject of how I defecated in a pair of sneakers belonging to one of two kids I hardly ever talked to isn’t the easiest thing to do. I couldn’t say whether a fellow jock had placed a borrowed pair of running shoes outside a locked door or if they’d been left there by an Asian kid upholding an ancient and cherished cultural tradition. I like to believe it’s the latter because it makes me look more ignorant thus adding more comical value to the story but can’t say for sure. What I do know for a fact, though, is that I went out of my way to lay some hot steamy chud in not one, but both of those poor-ass fuckin’ sneakers.
During that first trip into the hallway, I grabbed victim number one and carried it into a bathroom stall. There, I dropped trou, held the shoe to my asshole and with its tongue licking my balls, squeezed off a nice big log deep into the center, fulfilling an outcome for the product that none of the children in the Southeast Asian sweatshops who’d made it could’ve in their wildest dreams imagined. It was gonna take a lot more than some Odor Eaters products to get the stink outta that boot, lemme tell ya.
Following a clean-up in which I’d almost vomited from the stench of the fish outta water, I set the abomination back alongside the shit-free shoe and returned to my room. I climbed back in bed, did my best to ignore the holes being plugged just feet below and had myself a sleep.
I awoke several hours later to a grumbling stomach. I could feel the liquidy Friday-night-out aftershocks abruptly descending into my lower intestine. With my game face on, I hopped outta bed, rushed back to the bathroom and was ready to introduce the business to the bowl when…
“Now hold on a minute, Timothy. To poo in one might be fun, but to fill a pair…” the little devil on my shoulder plead his case, “…would be a legendary affair. Make an effort to finish what you’ve started. It’ll all be worth it in the end.”
What the voice in my head said to me seemed to make so much sense. Heroes get remembered, but legends never die. I simply could not afford to ignore my calling.
With a fifty-percent chance of scattered chocolate rainstorms developing in the hallway, I tiptoed back to the vacant shoe which I couldn’t wait to introduce to its new tenant and snatched the thing up. I then hustled over to the bathroom, scampered back to the scene of the crime and dropped my pants to my ankles. As I held victim number two up to my infernal passageway, I began to blast a fat batch of chocolate soft-serve. It turned out to be a way bigger load than I’d been expecting.
Following the egregious exchange, the interior had been filled to the top with brownie batter. The tongue had looked like that of a “2 Girls 1 Cup” co-star. As I carried the filled-to-capacity footwear back to its place in front of Room 517, liquid shit had been dripping out the eyelets and soaking the laces. I replaced the thing just as it’d sat before I’d given it the ol’ backdoor treatment and once again went back to bed. It was only a matter of hours before some drunk guy – surprisingly not me – would treat the hallway like Michael Jackson’s jail cell by flinging the shoes and the “doo-doo feces” all over the walls, prompting a visit from a biohazard team to come clean up the mess and rid our living quarters of the abhorrent stench.