Sometimes revenge is the sweetest dessert.
My parents were always the type of people that never had a good thing to say about their own kids, and didn’t mind insulting us in front of our friends. They also liked to embarrass us whenever they could. My dad would say how great this kid was at soccer, or how tough that kid on my 8th grade football team was, or how smart that kid over there seemed. He never had a kind word to say about me that I can recall. My mother, on the other hand, was the one that would take the thing you were most embarrassed about and bring it up in front of your friends. You know, like how much your ears stuck out, how bad your teeth were, your hair was a mess … stuff like that. Whatever the weak spot happened to be. That was her thing. She would say insulting things about you and if you dared mouth off back, you got slapped — or punched — in the mouth.
A long time ago she had some kind of surgery. I don’t remember if it was gall bladder surgery or what, but she couldn’t hold a bowel movement to save her life. Everything was a diarrhea attack. It meant rushing home at break-neck speeds and having to listen to her inhale sharply in fear and pain as each successive wave of Hershey squirts pressed against her very weak sphincter. She’d sprint into the bathroom and lock the door and be in there for what seemed like forever. It was a regular occurrence in our lives.
When we lived on Bell Avenue in Georgia, things got real interesting, because there was only ONE bathroom. That meant if she tied it up taking a big splasher, we all had to hold it … whatever “it” might’ve been. There were times I felt like I was going to wet myself before I got to go in there and whiz, and of course, there was always that charming aroma lingering behind her when she finally did give someone else a chance.
During our time there in Georgia, my parents bought a boat. I have no idea what make of boat it was anymore, but it was a 20 foot inboard ski boat. I think I found out about it one day when they showed up at school with it hitched to the back of the baby blue Oldsmobile Cutlass, pressing that poor old car’s rear end toward the street under its enormous weight. It was blue, too — kind of a sky blue from the bottom of the gunwale down. The top of it was white, like a lot of boats are. It had blue seats and a deep blue carpet inside, and the hold held all of our vests and bumpers for docking. In the deck there was a storage cabin for my mother’s water skis and of course all the other boat cubby holes were in place too.
When we lived in California, we lived along the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, at the wide, dirty delta where they joined to dump into the San Francisco Bay. In Georgia, though, we were close to Lake Chicamauga. It was a huge lake that runs near Chattanooga, Tennessee, and is chock full of fish, especially large-mouth bass. So it was a boon for both parents; my mother liked to fancy herself a “skier”, and my old man liked to fish. After my mother got enough skiing, or got too drunk to safely continue, the old man would fish. We’d spend the days out there and usually end up back home after dark sometime, exhausted and sun-dried.
Out on the water, the smothering wet plastic sheet of the humid southern air wasn’t as bad. We had to watch for summer storms, but they were usually pretty evident in a short time. We’d be able to get to a safe pier somewhere along the lake and dock, find a restaurant and eat, and wait it out. You could fold out the seats in the boat and make little beds if you really needed to sleep a night on the water. It was pretty cool, but it didn’t have a lot of amenities. It was essentially a ski boat, a boat you’d spend a day in, and then head back for the night.
So anyway, we’d spend a lot of time out on the water during the days when my father didn’t have to work. He worked in shifts for the M&M/Mars plant in Cleveland, Tennessee, and every once in a while he’d end up with a string of time off, and we’d go boating. Mom would ski, Dad would fish, and the kids either did their homework or sat there trying to figure out what to do with ourselves. If it got really hot, we’d swim for a while. My mother always wore a light windbreaker jacket and jeans with those ridiculous tennis socks that just barely cover the foot in the shoe and have that stupid fuzzy dingle-ball hanging off the back over the mouth of the white tennis sneakers she had.
We were out once, cruising the lake, just doing the weekender thing. It was summer, so we didn’t have homework, and my brother Ryan and I spent our time annoying each other and trying to see if we could reach down into the water from our seats and let the lake drag against our arms. We were out near the middle of the water when suddenly my mother inhaled sharply, making a loud hissing noise, and sat bolt upright in her chair, hands clutched to her chest, face drawn and gaunt.
My father looked over at her. “What?” he said, concerned. I didn’t even know why he had to ask after so many years of marriage. She just looked worriedly back at him.
“Oh, diah?” he said, turning back to watch what the hell he was doing.
She looked away, then inhaled hissing again, stiffening her body. “Oh … please … ” she pleaded with him.
“All right, hold on,” he said, and punched the speed control of the boat full-throttle.
The boat’s plane rose then flattened out again as it accelerated over the smooth water. My brother and I sighed in the back of the vessel; now it was a race to see if we could find a bathroom or a restaurant.
“OH!” my mother shouted suddenly, “OH MY GOD! I’MNOTGOINGTOMAKEIT! OHMYGODI’MNOTGOINGTOMAKEIT!!”
This drama wasn’t unusual, but we took her more seriously when she suddenly stiffened her body rigidly, tightening her ass cheeks to try and help her rectum hold the flood in. My father swung the boat desperately to the port, heading into a cove, and didn’t slow as he plowed through the bay toward the far end. It bent around and there was a tiny, naked dock ahead … and standing a few yards back from the water’s edge was a Port-a-Potty. An outhouse.
Any old Port-a-Potty in a storm, though. He cut the engine and let it glide into toward the dock, my mother whimpering and making gasping little desperation noises, squeaking about not being able to stand. My dad stood on the boat’s gunwale and grabbed the cleats of the dock as the boat pushed forward, fighting hard not to let the boat slam into the dock. Me and Ryan were ordered to throw the bumpers over the side to cushion the blow, and finally my mother scrabbled over the top of the deck and jumped onto the silver-wood dock.
“Mom, I have to go too!” Ryan whined. “I need to go bad! Can I come with you??” He was whiny like her.
She rushed forward, just waving him on, and he waddled after her, jerking and twisting his life jacket as he ran. My mother pounded into the tiny plastic coffin and slammed the door behind her, leaving Ryan standing outside doing the crotch-pinch potty kid-dance.
My father sighed heavily and slumped down in his seat. It wouldn’t behoove him to speak to me, so I stared off into the woods, the water and the sky alternately. Minutes rolled by. My brother began calling to my mother to please hurry, please hurry, he really had to go, please hurry. More minutes went by. Even though we were some distance from them, he could clearly be heard begging her again to hurry up, hurry up, he’s gonna pee his pants, hurry. I shook my head, wondering why he didn’t just go behind a bush somewhere, but Ryan was too stupid for that.
Finally, the door creaked open, and my mother came out, her face twisted into a grimace of disgust. I figured the outhouse was nasty, full of fecal-urine stink and hotter than an oven out in the naked spot of the lake shore. She walked away from the little latrine, and Ryan smashed in. I heard him yell “OOOOOHHHHHHH …” in relief right through the building, then my mother’s harsh “whisper” to be quiet. In a couple of seconds, he came out and was laughing hysterically.
“Somebody threw their SOCKS in there!” he bellowed, his voice booming and echoing over the surface of the water and being amplified. “It was GROSS, man!! There’s poo all over ’em!!”
My mother, her mouth tight and drawn, grabbed his arm viciously and spoke into his ear, dragging him along with her as she headed back to the boat. She pushed him forward angrily and he clambered in, and she stepped up onto the gunwale to climb aboard, my dad reaching for her hand to help her.
And I noticed she wasn’t wearing those stupid tennis socks.
“What happened?” my dad said, looking at her face.
“Nothing,” she said tersely. “Let’s get going, please.”
“What is the matter?” he pressed.
“Nothing, I said!”
“What’re you so pissed about?”
“There wasn’t any toilet paper and it was disgusting, okay? Can we leave please?” she snapped.
I struggled with all of my might not to burst out laughing. Ryan was sitting on the other side of the inboard motor housing from me, staring at his lap. He never said another word, but I knew what’d happened. We all did.
She used her socks to wipe her diarrheic ass in a public outhouse. Ryan saw them in the putrid septic pool when he pissed on them, and bellowed her shame to the entire lake. Of course, no one was around to hear, and I never brought it up.
We motored on as though nothing ever happened, and I’m sure my mother thought that her secret was safe with her and my father. But, like I said, revenge is the sweetest dish sometimes. Now EVERYONE knows.