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Strove to find a way to punch people in the face by using the Internet.

5/20/2004

DIARY OF INDIGNITIES
Um, Holy Shit
Okay, so Monday night was bad. I got home from kickboxing feeling like someone had shot me in the stomach using a cannon filled with sea urchins. Skipped supper; hit the hay early and tossed and turned all night, unable to sleep because of the gut pain. "Fuck you, turkey sandwich," I thought, assuming the source of my discomfort lay in a hastily constructed snack gobbled down earlier. (Although I wasn't ruling out some sort of long-range magic whammy from the Pale Stabbing Ghoul of Eerie Woods or whatever the hell it was I wrote about earlier this week, deployed as revenge for pooping on the sacred campsite or something.) Around 1 a.m., feeling like Ol' Man Glueguts, I remembered that I didn't have any shame and went to Walgreen's to score my first-ever box of laxatives, thinking I'd flush that cursed turkey right out of my system. Didn't work. Ended up being one of the crappier nights of my life.

Tuesday I felt a little better, but was still in a fair amount of pain. I was also kind of wonky from the interrupted sleep of the night before, so I called in sick to work. A pretty wretched day all in all; lots of pain and boredom. Though late in the evening I forced down some ice cream while watching The Warriors and felt significantly better, so much so that I slept through the night unmolested by belly problems... Can you dig it?! CAN YOU DIIIG IIIT?! CAAAAN YOOOOU DIIIIG IIIIT?!!! (Sorry, The Warriors is a kick-ass movie and I'm going to be working that into a lot of conversations in the near future, inappropriate or not.)

Yesterday I went in to work, still feeling out of sorts but happy just to be out of the damn house and relatively productive. Every once in a while I'd prod my belly and think, "Hmm, tender." After a quick Google of "tender belly," really out of curiosity more than anything else, I came up with a mildly horrifying list of fatal ailments that boast tender belly as a symptom. So I called my doctor to set up an appointment.

After getting shuttled through the requisite 42 secretaries and receptionists, a nurse started asking me questions about my symptoms. She asked if I still had my appendix, and when I told her I did, she disappeared from the phone for ten seconds, came back and said, "The doctor wants you to go to the emergency room. Right now."

Fuuuuck... The emergency room? I don't have anything wrong with me that requires the attention of the fucking emergency room... And if I do, wouldn't it just be easier to die in my sleep or something? Sigh.

After a quick pep talk from my buddy Lee I split work and made for the hospital, thinking up excuses to not actually go the entire time. Shortly, though, I found myself in the emergency room, filling out forms, getting shuttled around and being mocked by a 450-pound patient with hot pink hair, a hot pink halter top and hot pink sweatpants, which were riding low enough to display a pair of purple undies that had sunk into her crack so far I'd lay odds that she was there to have 'em removed with special robotic ass-forceps or something. Isn't modern science wonderful?

Before long I was sitting in a room, wearing my little gown and drinking glass after glass of cool, refreshing "contrast medium" in preparation for my CAT scan. At various times bumbling orderlies and students would come in and drain me of various fluids, or occasionally drip mysterious serums into me through my fancy new IV. I spent about four hours putzing around in this room, wondering just how stupid I was going to feel when they inevitably told me my tender belly was the result of a stubborn poo chunk. But no, about 15 minutes after the CAT scan, shit shifted into seriously high gear.

"Mr. Hughes, you've got an inflamed appendix."

"No shit? Really? So what do we do for that?"

"We're going to take it out."

"Wow. When?"

"Right now."

The doctor began assuring me that with the way the modern procedure was performed, any scarring would be minimal. I interrupted: "Doc, look at me. I'm nothing but a mess of scars and tattoos. The cosmetic aspect of this is the least of my worries."

Next thing I know I'm getting wheeled down the halls in a gurney, signing stacks of paperwork and talking to my dad on my cellphone. In a typically surreal fashion, the rush to pre-op was interrupted by running into my old buddy Jim in the hallway, a guy who I hadn't seen in about two years.

"What's going on?"

"I'm fixing to have surgery. How about you?"

"I'm visiting my mom here. Oh, I went down south to Jim Doherty's 40th birthday party not too long ago. He seems like he's doing well."

"Cool. How was the party?"

"Fun, but it was over at 10:30, instead of starting at 10:30. We're getting old!"

"Ha ha, ain't it the truth! Alright now. Take care!"

And then we were off. Up in the pre-op room I met my anestheseologist, who assured me she wouldn't kill me despite the fact I had to sign a stack of papers letting me know there was a pretty good chance the anesthesia would kill me. Or turn me into a vegetable, or paralyze me, or make my ding-dong fall off, etc. She injected a relaxant into my IV. Did you know you can taste and smell stuff they jam into your IV? I'm pretty sure the relaxant was vodka. The stuff hit me instantly, and I asked them to put on a little music. My request was ignored.

Next thing I knew I was in the operating room. They put the mask on me and it was lights out.

Sometime later I woke up in recovery, feeling pretty much like a hot pile of charred ass. My shoulders ached, apparently because the procedure involves using CO2 to inflate me up like that damn blueberry kid in Willie Wonka, and the gas all pools up there. Or something. I dunno, man, they had me pumped full of more drugs and shit... They could've been telling me anything. Maybe my shoulders ached because they brought Bob Guccione in to give me a vigorous backrub and he got out of hand; what do I know?

After making sure I wasn't going to die right then and there they wheeled me down to my room. Thoughtfully, my little brother Neil was hanging out, waiting to check on me. We instantly starting arguing about The Last Samurai (strangely, he was trying to convince me that it didn't eat a fat load of balls; I held the opposing opinion), and then after we simmered down a little he asked me if I needed anything while my nurse (thank god, a super cute emo girl with red hair and a nose ring, if you can believe fate would even allow me such a silver lining) injected me with some anti-nausea drug.

"So you're good?"

"Yeah, bro, I think they've got everything taken care of..."

"Do you need me to call anyone? I called your mom already, and I'll let her know everything's alright."

"Yeah, shmeh tooblie shaw po po noony feh." (The anti-nausea drug had side effects.) "Uhh, mebbe now time go Pat sleepies."

My brother split and I passed out. I was hooked up to all kinds of shit designed to let someone know if I croaked, including a cuff for blood pressure that cinched down on my arm every 15 damn minutes, so uninterrupted sleep was unfortunately not an option. At least Cute Emo Nurse kind of had to pay attention to me, since it's her job and everything. And I got to pee in a jug, which, while not as enjoyable as a front yard at 3 a.m. on a star-filled summer night, held no small amount of novelty for me nonetheless.

As dawn broke it was once again time to have more fluids dripped into me, while other were sucked out. I woke up with a hard-on, which was a good sign. Not that I was expecting them to chop off my dick, but, you know... Accidents happen... They gave me some sugar-free raspberry Jell-O, and let me tell you — your ass goes a solid 24 without food and that goddamn sugar-free raspberry Jell-O is like having Osama Bin Flavor crash a plane full of celebration into your mouth.

The doc stopped by and told me that my appendix was roughly the size of a hot dog, so I was pretty stoked they got it out of me before it popped like a huge, malignant, toxin-filled zit, even though I was disappointed that they already chucked it and I wasn't going to get to take it home with me.

Anyway, several poke, prod and pain-filled hours later they yanked all the cords out of me, made me sign another stack of forms and asked me if I had a ride home. "Yes," I lied, took off before they could check up on that, jumped into my truck and got the hell out of there. I stopped by the office on the way home just for shits and giggles, showed everyone my stitches and walked in the door to my apartment about half an hour ago. When I started writing this, just in case anyone actually needed additional proof about the charmed fucking life I lead.

A pretty crazy 24 hours, my friends, even for me.

Stupid vestigal organs.

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5/16/2004

DIARY OF INDIGNITIES
Does a Bear Shit in the Woods?
I don't know about the bear, but I shit in the woods. Once, anyway. And let me tell you, if you're looking for a good indignity to thoroughly scrub away those last few pesky shreds of self-esteem, squatting down pants-less in the brush to let one rip will do the trick. My sense of self-worth was shot off in the war many years ago, of course, but I feel that I can speak authoritatively on this matter nonetheless.

I was camping Saturday, you see. Enjoying the natural splendor and blah blah while drinking myself cross-eyed at Blue Springs State Park. By the time I hit the sack that night I was exhausted. That morning I had my first kickboxing sparring session (an experience you can recreate at home by wrapping a moist dog around your face and letting a laughing guy punch and kick you while you wave your arms around at random, and girls laugh, and also you must stuff a large hunk of plastic in your mouth and be very tired), it was a fairly long drive to the campsite and the afternoon had involved lots of strenuous bottle lifting and standing around holding a fishing pole. So when I went sleepies I crashed hard.

This didn’t prevent me from waking up at four in the morning, guts all a-churn. Was it the cookies? The supper of nearly raw steak? The estimated 14 beers? Who knows, but it was itching to find its way to the outside world, and like pronto.

In vain, I tried ignoring the low-end rumble coming from my nether regions. It was to no avail. After a several torturous minutes of trying to go back to sleep while feeling the pressure build, I knew I had no choice but to get up and relieve myself if I was to reclaim comfort. I crawled out of my tent, grabbed my flashlight and, half-delirious from sleep and booze, stumbled out into the night in search of succor.

The campground featured a large bathroom and concession stand, located about a 10-minute walk from my site. All I had to do was follow the path through what the map called the Midnight Death Forest of Spooky-Ass Horror and sweet relief would me mine. I squinched my ass cheeks together as tightly as I could while still retaining mobility and toddled down the very dark path. At some point during the day, thoughtful children had chalked inspirational messages along the way: “My mom is STILL a bitch,” “Hell Road,” “Haunted,” and, my favorite, “TURN BACK!”

Woodland goblins and vampires, disturbed by my frenetic waddle, rustled in the brush alongside me. I paid them no heed, remaining intent on my mission and trusting the yellowing light of my flashlight to keep anything nefarious at bay. Plus, I am a big boy now, and do not need daddy to hold my hand in such situations, no matter how comforting it would be.

Fifteen terrifying minutes later I found the bathrooms. Like every other damn thing at the campground, it was totally dark and scary. “I hope there’s a damn light switch inside,” I thought as I pulled on the door. But the darkness soon became the least of my worries: the door was locked. “Fuck it,” I thought, “It’s 4 a.m. I’ll go on the ladies’ side.” But no, I wouldn’t go there either. The entire thing was locked down.

Tired, boozy, sick and experiencing severe gastric discomfort, I stood there, reeling, and briefly wondered if this wasn’t some kind of stupid nightmare. No, it all pretty much fell right into line with the rest of my stupid life, so I re-squinched my butt and hobbled back toward what the signs said was the Soul-Chilling Forbidden Path of Inescapable Bloodcurdling Pants-Shitting Doom.

I hit the path and had a little conversation with myself: “What if you’re walking along, and all of a sudden there’s a guy, just standing there?” Fuck, that’s scary. Better cut that shit out. “What if he’s standing there, just staring at you, like he’s been waiting for you? And his skin has the chalky pallor of the grave?” Holy shit, where are these thoughts coming from? “And what if he’s holding a knife?” Oh my fucking god, brain, I have to take a dump so bad I can taste it so I’d really appreciate it if you’d stop with that Stephen King shit RIGHT. NOW.

Suddenly there was some kind of spastic commotion in the bushes right next to me. I jumped about six feet, somehow managed to keep my poo in my ass, and swung the flashlight around so I could get a good look at the chalky white evil ghost dude that was fixin’ to knife me. The light uncovered a small alligator that I had apparently startled. He wouldn’t make eye contact — in fact, he seemed embarrassed and was acting like he didn’t see me. So I split before he called up his friend the Pale Stabbing Ghoul of Creepy Woods to do me in.

Back at the campsite I tried to stop hyperventilating and climbed back into my tent. My intestines continued their protest and relief was nowhere to be found. I knew I had no choice but to go natural if I was to make it through the night.

I crept back out of the tent and, quietly as possible, rummaged around looking for paper towels. I grabbed a handful, removed my shorts, removed my underwear, removed my fishnet stockings and stood for a few moments, bare-assed, and contemplated the step I was about to take. After a deep breath, I squatted down, did my business while praying that nobody would wake up and take pictures, wiped and got the hell out of there. The deep sense of shame and revulsion was overcome by my physical relief and I was soon asleep.

The next morning, I asked my buddy Brian if he had brought a shovel. “I woke up in the middle of the night and had to take a shit,” I explained, pointing to the mess just a few short feet from our tents. “I need to bury it.”

Understandably, Brian looked disgusted. He stared at me for a minute and asked, “Why didn’t you go to the bathrooms?”

“Believe me, I tried. I had many adventures and the bathrooms were locked. That path is scary as shit at night, too.”

“Path?”

“Yeah, I took that dark-ass path and saw a fucking alligator.”

Brian pointed to a break in the brush across from the campsite, maybe 20 feet from where my tent was set up.

“The all-night bathrooms are right through there, dude.”

CAMPING PICS

Girls are awesome.


Brian wearing a sarong and holding a bag of cookies is awesome as well.


The women-folk go off to rustle up some grub while clad in traditional Frankie Goes to Hollywood-brand native garb.


As a child, Becca was rushing through a busy airport and briefly brushed against famed jazz guitarist Al DiMeola. Eerily, more than 15 years later the spot where he touched her is the only place on her body that wont sunbun.


The photo on the packaging showed the tent as being a neutral green color, so imagine my delight when I unpacked it and discovered it was actually made from gay pride flags.


We went to fish off this dock and these two fucking giant owls would hang around like two feet from your face, swooping in to steal any fish you caught. Disconcerting. We dealt with it by not catching any fish.


Check out these meaty guys watching one of the owls. Right after I snapped this pic, the owl started flipping out and getting all burly, so the dude on the right scared it off by squirting it with some of his breast milk.


Sign warning park visitors about the manatee child molesters.


The people running the place had installed animatronic pirates along the boardwalk, which I thought was cool.


James knocks over our last drink while Oliver tries to comprehend the horror.


Right after I snapped this, Oliver says, "I just squeezed out a fart when you took that." Awesome.


Brian wins the stick-fishing competition by reeling in a stick. Good job, dude. Nice stick.


Back at camp, grilling out around the fire. Adam told me some story about how the night before I got there raccoons got into the provisions and ate everything, but spit out the tofu hot dogs. I responded that I knew how the raccoons felt and pulled out the steak I brought to grill, generating oohs and aahs from the guys. Seconds after hearing the first sizzle, Brian and Adam drove to Winn Dixie and sensibly bought several pounds of meat.


Steak good. Civilization bad. Give up.


Drunk Ann, part one. Yay!


Drunk Ann, part two. Party!


Drunk Ann, part three. What the fuck!


Alcohol is prohibited in all Florida state parks.


The morning after the poo adventure. Hello, ladies!


Feelin' groovy!


A lot of people think Oliver is a kid, but he's actually 28. He's got that weird Webster shit or something.


Smores for breakfast. Awesome.


Natural splendor blah blah blah.

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