Monday, November 3, 2008

The Horror and Hassle of Halloween

For those of you who think my life is always filled with drama, you might want to skip reading this posting, because it involves yet another ridiculous situation I found myself in. And it’s not like I’m trying to throw myself constant curveballs, but somehow that’s what I inevitably end up doing.

It all started very innocently. I was going into the city with some friends last Friday evening for another friend’s Halloween party. To prepare myself for what would no doubt be a long evening in the city, I decided to take a nap for a few hours. Only the nap turned into a much longer sojourn, and when I finally woke up, I found myself with only a half hour to get ready before I was being picked up. And with shaving, showering and eating dinner to accomplish, I really had to budget my time efficiently.

First, I ran to the kitchen to see what leftovers I could heat up in a hurry. Luckily, I’d made spaghetti at some point during the week, along with a container of home-made meat sauce (made from turkey rather than beef). So I just combined the two ingredients in a bowl, threw it in the microwave, and turned the power to high for three minutes. Then I ran upstairs to take my shower while the spaghetti was heating up. Within twenty minutes, I was dressed and ready to go and running back down to the kitchen to eat my spaghetti. I quickly inhaled the micro-meal and downed it with a can of Diet Coke, just as the doorbell rang. My friends had arrived to pick me up.

As we piled into their car, I noticed that my stomach felt very gassy, probably from eating too fast. Not only that, but I was beginning to burp on a rather frequent basis, a condition I always try to keep to myself if at all possible. Unfortunately, both the spaghetti sauce and the spaghetti itself had been highly laced with garlic (an attribute I had all but forgotten), and though I was trying to suppress the noise of the burps, the actual smell was something that couldn’t be hidden. It wasn’t very long before I noticed people rolling down their windows and turning on the AC to get some fresh air circulating in the car.

“Did someone have garlic for dinner?” One of my friends finally asked.

“Yes, it was me,” I admitted. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking. Is it that bad?”

At which point, everyone in the car began describing the horrendous odor that my burps were creating. Horrified, I began stuffing my mouth with mints and gum to try and squelch the issue. And as soon as we got to the party, I began drinking in the hopes of masking the garlic odor with a more socially acceptable smell—beer breath. (On the scale of bad breaths, beer is probably one of the least offensive…unless of course it’s day old beer breath, in which case it probably ranks up there with Doritos and peanuts.) After each beer, I would pull one of my friends aside and have them smell my breath, a task none of them was particularly interested in performing. And though they each assured me they could no longer smell the garlic, I still caught a whiff of it every time I burped, which for some reason I continued to do throughout the evening.

Nevertheless, I managed to have a good time at the party, making sure I turned my head to the right any time I actually spoke directly to a person. In this way, if I had any remnants of bad odor on my breath, they would be directed elsewhere. Still, I was quite happy when my friends were tired and wanted to head back to New Jersey. I was also quite full of beer, which made my last minute stop at the bathroom before we left a definite necessity. And since I’m not really a big drinker, the amount of alcohol I had consumed that evening was starting to take its toll on my head, which began to ache in a most uncomfortable way. Unfortunately, there wasn’t an open drug store or bodega in the area in which I could acquire a remedy, so we all piled back into the car and headed for the Holland Tunnel.

Our designated driver was thankfully not in the same shape as me (having only one drink earlier in the evening), and was perfectly capable of maneuvering us through the hectic Manhattan traffic, which was surprisingly dense at three o’clock in the morning. Not only dense, but not moving. And since it was Halloween, the city seemed to be filled with so many road blocks, street closings, and other unusual obstacles that it was like navigating a video game just to get around. In fact, trying to get to a road that actually led to the Holland Tunnel was such a challenge that we eventually decided to head uptown to the Lincoln.

Thinking quickly, I remembered a little-known entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel which you can access from the south rather than the entrance near Port Authority which most people use. Only once we got there, we quickly realized it was not as little-known as I’d thought. (First wrong assumption) There was a huge line of cars waiting to enter, and since we were already on the path to joining them, we decided to stay where we were rather than trying to get back to the Holland or even up to the George Washington Bridge. And once you are on the actual road leading into the tunnel, there’s no way to get off it anyway, so we were hoping this was the better of two evils. (Second wrong assumption)

But no sooner had we joined the line into the tunnel, and gotten past the point of no return, than traffic literally came to a screeching stop. And I’m not talking a slow moving line of cars, or even a stop-start smattering of movements where you trudge along like an elephant; I’m talking completely halted movement of any kind. For half an hour. Then, just when we thought we were permanently glued to the spot, there was a short burst of movement which lasted maybe five or six feet, and then we were stopped once again. For another half hour.

Warning: the next portion of this story gets a little…graphic. Not pornographic, but graphic in the sense that I talk about a very embarrassing issue of a personal nature. And though I don’t think any of it is particularly offensive, I certainly don’t want to turn off any of my readers by instituting a TMI policy. (Too Much Information) Remember, you were warned.

By this time my head was pounding and, forgive me for divulging this, I had to pee so badly that I began getting cramps. But since there was nowhere on the secluded road into the tunnel that I could use as my urinal, I had to ask my friends in the car if there was anything I could borrow for a makeshift bedpan. And even though the prospect of trying to empty the contents of my bladder into a bottle while sitting in a parked car on the road to the Lincoln Tunnel was not going to be easy, it was the only option that made sense in our particular circumstances.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything in the car that would help me, so I began looking outside the car—to the dirty shoulder of the road which was filled with garbage and other discarded items. The only thing I saw that looked even remotely like a portable latrine was a used water bottle someone had thrown out. So after jumping out of the car to procure the bottle, I sat back in the front seat, covering myself with my jacket to hide my forthcoming activity. After all, when you’re sitting in non-moving traffic, there’s nothing else to do but look around you—including all the cars parked next to you, behind you or in front of you. And since an SUV happened to be parked next to us, their line of vision allowed them to see right down into our front seat. So even with the jacket covering me up, I’m sure whatever I was doing underneath it must have appeared a little strange.

Add to that, the fact that three other people were sitting in the car with me, each of whom was trying their best to distract themselves from what I was doing. Though, without a working radio in the car, it made it quite difficult to drown out any kind of noise I might be making. Trouble was, I wasn’t making any noise. Because I was so tense, and worried that I might miss the tiny opening in the water bottle, I found that I was suffering from what most men refer to as “pee shyness.” This was also probably acerbated by the presence of a group of giggling girls in the SUV next to use, each of whom was dressed as some kind of cat. So while I tried to appear casual in what I was doing, I’m sure the jacket over my body might have led them to other conclusions, which only made the performance of my task even more difficult.

Once we started moving again, I got a little relief. Or at least I tried. But that’s when I realized that manipulating my member so it would fit into the water bottle was going to be impossible. And since I couldn’t really aim into the bottle, my only successful attempt at releasing any of my pent up fluid resulted in a sudden burst of warm liquid onto my hands, my jacket, my pants, the car seat—everywhere but into the bottle for which it was intended. (See, I told you it was going to get sort of graphic.)

By this time, my head was pounding worse than ever, and my midsection felt like a balloon about to burst. And because the traffic had stopped once again, we were now begin visited by a drunk guy from the car next to us, who got out to tell us all about his exciting evening in the Village. Naturally, this made it even more difficult to accomplish my mission, as he was standing right outside the driver’s window and I was in the front passenger seat. And the irritation from not moving for almost two hours was not exactly helping either.

Anyway, within a few minutes the traffic finally began to move again, although it still took another twenty or thirty minutes to get through the tunnel. And then because the police had inconveniently blocked off the ramp outside the tunnel, we had to find our way through Hoboken in order to get back on the highway to get home. Once we were finally moving, the pounding in my head subsided somewhat, and one of my friends in the backseat miraculously found a travel mug hidden under the seat which I was finally able to use to release some of my “tension.”

I finally arrived home at six am, three hours after we began the journey back to New Jersey. I slept on and off through Saturday and finally got back to normal on Sunday, but that was one Halloween adventure I could definitely have done without.

But that’s just me. What did you do for Halloween?


Ken Armstrong said...

Hilarious and brilliantly well-written. A bit of bragging about the member and the bottle but we'll let that go :)

Debbie said...

very funny and personally, I loved the part about the bottle vs. a coffee mug. Call me! ;0

Lidian said...

Well, I have been stuck in traffic at the dear old Holland Tunnel, but not in quite the same way. That is quite a story! I'll bet you were all glad to get home.

Our Halloween was quite boring, though we did carve a turnip as well as a pumpkin. This doesn't come anywhere near your experiences though!

Voracious Vegetarian said...

What a great story, although I'm sure you weren't feeling too great at the time. Unfortunately Halloween isn't something very many people in Australia celebrate and I'm much too shy to talk about what I've done before when I've been 'busting', so I guess that leaves accolades to you for a humorous and very readable post.

Henson Ray said...

Ken--I had to laugh when I read your comment, because honestly, I wasn't even thinking about what the size of the bottle might imply. Heh, heh.

debbie--Too funny. I guess it just proves the old theory--the size of your water bottle DOES matter.

lidian--Carving a turnip? That's unusal. Do you have a picture you could share?

voracious vegetarian--Thanks for dropping by. Australia doesn't need to celebrate Halloween---you have so many other things to celebrate on a daily basis. Someday I want to come back--I love your country.