Bowels are a funny thing in a new culture. There is new and interesting food that must be tasted, and tested out on ones internal system. There is new bacteria to encounter and all sorts of nasty goodness that plays tricks on the old digestive system.
I have been in China now for nearly a month, and a lot of that time (more than I'd ever care to discuss at length) has been spent on the toilet. It attacks frequently and without warning.
This week I began tutoring a middle-aged Chinese woman in the fine skills of the English language. It is boring, tedious, and hot work (as she rarely turns on the air conditioning.) We do four hours a day and rarely take a break. The other day I was there and along about hour three I was feeling an undying need to get the freak out of there. Our lessons basically take the form of me reading a sentence and her repeating it back to me, with perhaps a break to discuss vocabulary.
Don't tell me that isn't the best way to learn a language because I know, but there is no changing this strategy with this woman.
So there I was bored out of my mind, hot, tired and still with an hour to go. What could I do? What I did was pretended I needed to go to the bathroom. I went in, washed my face, and noticed in their three mirrors that I could see the back of my head.
My noticeably balding head, thank you very much.
Then I did a fake flush and went on my way.
Maybe fifteen minutes later I felt a flutter. A pain. An immediate and incredible need to use the restroom for real. I sat for a minute feeling the massive pain in my belly thinking maybe I could wait it out. There is only one need for a man to use the toilet so quickly after he just used it and that reason is kind of embarrassing to admit.
Like the boy who cried wolf, I had pretended to use the bathroom, and now was stuck with a real need to go.
Surely I could make it half an hour until I went home. Surely I wouldn't have to admit I was having this trouble. Surely I Must Go Now!
And I went. The bathroom is located right next to the room we were studying in. That means very little privacy for what I was about to do. I don't want to be gross but what I did do can only be called explosive an drawn out. In my desire not to make too large a sound or mess I tried to reign in the business at hand, which only served to make the problem last longer.
Eventually I decided to screw it and have at it. It is a natural function and frankly I'm quitting the tutoring gig next week so who cares what she think.
And there it was.