This story is pretty embarassing and not something most people would share. But since tons of people already know it (partially thanks to my mother-in-law who likes to tell people) and since everyone who has ever heard it thought it was fantastic, I guess I should share it with the rest of the world.
From grade school through early college, I had a best friend named Scott. We don’t speak anymore due to an argument in 2004 that was mutually stupid and ruined our friendship, but from 1994-2004 we spent almost all of our time together. A real set of chums. I have vastly fewer memories during those years that don’t include him than those that do.
On the weekend of my 18th birthday (July 24, 2003), we took a trip to Ohio. The plans for the weekend were two-fold; meet his then-girlfriend for a day at Cedar Point, and buy a bunch of fireworks since Pennsylvania is lame and doesn’t allow anyone to buy anything bigger than those little chalkdust snakes that creep around and leave black marks on your driveway.
The idea of the trip was totally exciting. This was our first real man-pal voyage to another state on our own. Back then we both worked at a local dollar store, had lots of money because we didn’t have anything to pay for, and gas was $1.17. The trip would be totally unpredictable and uninhibited. The music would be loud. The Arby’s would be eaten. No cares would be had.
We pulled up at the Sandusky, Ohio Red Roof Inn on a sunny Friday afternoon. The 1-story motel’s entrance was in the front near the highway, and the parking areas went thinly across the front and down the sides of the building in a U-shape.
We parked the car, a Subaru Impreza hatchback, in a spot along the left side of the building and made our ways inside. The bags were packed light, of course. 18 year-olds don’t require a lot going to an amusement park in Ohio for a weekend. Some shorts, a nerdy t-shirt, clean socks and underpants, deodorant and a toothbrush. Maybe. I like to think I was practicing good oral hygiene then, but really, who can be sure? We dumped all the stuff in the room and since we weren’t going to Cedar Point until the next day, decided we’d go take care of the fireworks aspect of the trip right away.
We didn’t know where a fireworks store was. GPS wasn’t really around yet, and every hotel didn’t offer free wi-fi back then. We were too bashful to ask the desk person where a shop was, but hey, we had all night and gas was $1.17. The decision to drive around aimlessly until we found one seemed like a pretty good plan. Because it was.
Turns out finding a fireworks store in proximity to a major amusement park isn’t much of a challenge. After no more than a few miles, we came upon a massive warehouse of fireworks. A Best Buy-sized structure full of things that go boom. To Pennsylvanians, this is like pulling up to The Sphynx. Except located along a highway in the shadow of the insect and nasty-shit-filled Lake Erie.
We purchased many items, took them back to the car and headed back to Red Roof Inn.
Side note: The irony here is that since “real” fireworks are so unavailable in Pennsylvania, we never wanted to use any of them, because then they’d be gone. I know for a fact right now there is a Rubbermaid bin in my shed with a Saturn Battery inside that I bought on this trip, still unused, 9 years later.
When we got back to the motel, we again parked along the side of the building, right outside our room’s window. We walked around to the front, through the door and down the long hall to our room. I have a few motions I do habitually when coming from/going anywhere, and when we got inside and put all our junk down, I did the rapid ass-pocket-tap of extreme terror as I realized my wallet was missing.
“Please tell me I didn’t leave my wallet at that fireworks store,” I said to Scott. “That would be 100% not where I want it to be.”
He started looking around.
“Maybe it’s in the car,” he suggested.
Since the car was right outside the room window, I instinctively ran over and pulled apart the drapes. There it was, sitting on the pavement outside the passenger door. It must have wiggled out of my pocket when I got out.
Then I noticed the motel garbage man coming up the sidewalk.
“Oh no,” I said. “The garbage man is coming. He is going to steal my wallet if he sees it. Why wouldn’t he? He’s a garbage man.”
I had a very narrow worldview at this point, I’ll tell ya.
I decided at that moment that I needed to get my wallet immediately or the rubbish disposal gentleman would certainly be on his way with it. But with the layout of the motel being how it was, I didn’t have time to go all the way down the hall, out the front door, and around the side of the building before he got there.
Side note: I’m not sure where I thought the motel guy was going to go with my wallet, even if he took it. I don’t believe he’d just abandon his job and trollop off with the $47 I had inside. I was stereotyping this man because of his job and his physical appearance. And that, kids, is wrong.
With no time to get to the car, there was only one decision: climb out the window.
I yanked the cord to get the curtains out of the way and lifted the window. It was about six feet off the ground. The plan was simple and completely logical to the barely 18-year-old mind – jump out the window, get the wallet, come back inside. I stuck my head through and saw the trash man. He was maybe 20 feet away. This had to be done quickly.
I lifted my right leg and put it on the edge of the window frame. Then, somehow, as I moved up my left leg, it got caught on the edge of the window and I started to feel myself lose my grasp. A moment later, I was on my back in the little flower bed underneath the window – which was mulched with lava rocks, by the way.
But that’s not the best part. The best part is that upon impact, as soon as my body contacted the lava rock-covered ground, I pooped my pants.
Pooped them good.
I started laughing hysterically, somewhat from pain, somewhat from disorientation as I wasn’t sure how I managed to stumble and fall from a first-floor window, and completely from my awareness that I’d just shat myself in the flower bed of a Red Roof Inn in Sandusky, Ohio to try and rescue my wallet from a trash man.
A trash man who, I must add, walked right past this entire scene, my wallet, and the shrieks of uncontrollable laughter coming from Scott in the room without acknowledging any of it. He was totally zen with his waste removal.
After I was done being blindsided by what just happened, I picked my squishy self up and grabbed my wallet. I tried to act as comfortable and normal as possible as I re-entered the motel and passed the front desk. I smiled awkwardly while still laughing at myself, pretending to adjust something in my pocket to disguise the weird way I was walking.
When I returned to the room, I was surprised Scott hadn’t shit himself with how maniacally he was laughing. He didn’t stop for a solid two hours, long after I cleaned up. Good thing clean underpants were part of what I packed. Otherwise our next trip would have been to find an underwear store. And that’s not nearly as fun, because we have those in Pennsylvania.
I sometimes like to refer to this story as “Two guys check into a motel in the middle of the afternoon and leave a pair of poop-covered underwear in the trash.” I enjoy thinking about what that was like for the cleaning crew the next day. Unless they were zen like the trash man and didn’t even notice.
So that’s how I spent my first day as a legal adult – taking a road trip, buying fireworks, and pooping my pants falling out of a six-foot-high window.
How was your 18th birthday?