Tight Squeeze

A few years back the most amazing thing happened; or didn’t, depending on your perspective. Either way, it was a game of inches.

It was midmorning, a time of transitions. The previous day’s mind had finally reawakened and the sated body was revving in full gear. I was situated at a corporate desk on a contract assignment, typing a brief about some sort of boiler explosion an engineer I was assisting was soon to investigate, the workday well into its forward march, when one of those gurgitations announced itself in the innards in its precarious way.

Instinctively (and very tightly) I squeezed my cheeks and held my breath, in that same instant rising with the utmost care and an unrequited desire to get to the rest station down the hall just as fast as a duck walk may allow.

To my horror, when I arrived housekeeping was...tending the thrones!


Firstly, I waddled right up to them. Now with every step a bubble of air popped behind me and there was no telling which one might suddenly yield to the liquid state. Secondly (actually, still firstly), I redoubled the squeezing. This segued naturally into a quite deliberate pacing in circles and spewing of Oh don’t fail me nows!, the former albeit somewhat measured such that it might spring ‘a hint’ but not the gurgitation.

To be sure, the cleaning people took their tissues and frightened looks and scrammed!

O telltale clock! No longer ticking, it was pounding. Marching bands were playing John Philip Sousa, fat men were bursting out of canons; stars and birdies were dogfighting around my head. Time was nearing its end: Gravity was about to obliterate it!

And then—

And then—

Tsunami in a toilet!

“Is everything O.K. in there, sir?” asked housekeeping, who had just returned. “It sounded like something — crashed.”

I’m not sure whether my response was a wheeze or a toot.

“You needing some help, sir?”


“You sure?”

I don’t need any help!

This time their exiting footsteps were even more fleeting. And in their trailing voices I thought I heard “Eee-uuu.”

Finally I reopened my eyes. Panting, sweating, heart still in swift revolt, I looked in front of me, behind me, and under me. My pants, they’d made it — undefiled!

For a time I didn’t move (‘movement’ in this case referring to the act of getting up and far away). First I had to square whether this was God’s punishment for my having returned to work before entirely kicking the flu and pampering the famished stomach with a half-pound burger piled high with blue cheese chunks, a plateful of seasoned fries, a bowl of creamy chicken soup, and three beers. But really, it didn’t matter. For I’d just defied the odds.

O relief! O miracle! O...

I rushed to turn on the fan.