Ramblings From an Apathetic Adult Baby

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I Really Need to Poop But I’m Lost in This Corn Maze

My son’s tugging on my sleeve, though I’ve resigned myself to the ground. Peripheral noise quiets as a Category Five stress migraine crashes into me. Forehead wrinkles tighten. Cool sweat pools. The stalks loom, laughing and rustling as I struggle and thrash. Mortified, my son orders his classmates to look away. The corn knows it has almost won.

 

You volunteer to chaperone a field trip and you think it’s going to be all “You’re my favorite parent” this and “Here’s my single mom’s number” that. Today, though, no matter how many rehashings I play over in my head, my now-stained backseat is still just that. Even though I told Kyle S. three times he needed to be careful with that juicebox.

 

I’d signed that permission slip for Farmer Jack’s Orchard without thinking. Sure, I’ll volunteer; I don’t anticipate fourth graders being hungry and bringing crumbly snacks or juices that stain into my car when we’re leaving directly after lunch. No teacher would ever think to saddle me with an EpiPen or other mortality based accountability. I’m sure there’s enough room in other cars for my group to return if I get sick. Or get diarrhea and have to go home and take, like, two showers. Everything in life always turns out exactly how you plan, remember?

 

Optimism, you’ve swindled me again.

 

The kids grow anxious. My “episode” has paced us behind the other teams. I tell my son to leave me. To go with the others. He’s in charge now. He asks if I’m dying. I reply, “Kind of.”

 

The pressure relents. Slightly. I feel like I’m passing through the eye of this personal hurricane. Culprits come to mind. Gas-station deviled egg. The lost-and-found cookie. Both plausible. They gave us those plain cake donuts when we got here. Dry and tasteless. An embarrassing excuse for empty calories. I’d regretted eating it before even taking a bite.

 

A positive identification won’t help my situation, but I just want something to blame.

 

I drag myself off the path. Into the shadows of the corn. I could try to run, or rather toddle. Do what’s honorable and try to make it to the Port-O-Potty. It’s a maze, though. The outhouse could be in any direction. Failure at this would mean public embarrassment and a far higher likelihood of earning a spot on the Sex Offender Registry. I’d be letting my son down. Not as a sex offender, but as ‘That Dad’ who pooed himself on a field trip. We’d have to move. No classmate could ever forget that. Not even if they wanted.

 

I’ve sweat through my blazer now. Pressure intensifies and the migraine returns. A tear wells. This is bigger than me. Yes, this time it seems monumental—once excavated, my skin will likely be noticeably looser. What I mean, though, is that I’m here for my kid.

 

Hence, I will remain in this corn thicket.

 

Time is a factor; strike while the iron is hot.

 

Crouched, Dockers lowered, it begins. Colonic coughing and vomiting. The EpiPen narrowly escapes tumbling into the quintessence of hot mess, almost resigned to being “lost” and never living out its purpose.

 

“How did our son, Kyle S., die? I left his EpiPen in the corn field. Why’d you do that? Well—and you’re gonna really laugh—but…”

 

I grew up to be a divorced dad pooping in a cornfield and it’s not nearly as bad as that headline reads.

 

I hear a rustle and freeze. It subsides and I resume breathing. Hadn’t considered wiping, but it’s become very necessary. Do I go husk or cob? Gritty or protruding? Horrible or possibly slightly less horrible? It’s an eerily familiar dilemma.

 

My underwear is back on, though I haven’t stood completely up. Kyle S. rounds the corner. Of course that idiot wandered off. He sees me and I see him. Cautiously, we stare one another down as I re-buckle my belt. I step out from the stalks.

 

His face sours after one whiff. I seize him by his shoulders, my dead gaze bearing down on him. “No one will believe you.”

 

Dragging him by his fruit-punch-stained fingers, I call out and catch up with my son and the other kids.

 

 

 

 

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