Gather round, kids.
It is story time with grandpa again.
I want to tell you about the time I forced the entire Boston press corps to smell my poo. I watched as their facial expressions slowly went from their natural smugness to confused bewilderment to abject horror.
It was around this time in spring training in 2012. I was covering the Boston Red Sox camp in Fort Myers that day for Naples Daily News. The stadium, dubbed Fenway South, was all shiny and new having just opened a few weeks prior.
For reporters covering the annual event, spring training is often a time of poor decisions, especially when it comes to food. It’s even worse for us locals since we don’t have the luxury of a company expense account. So every spring, I tended to live on bad stadium food like brats and sausages because on most days it was a safer option than the media dining. I also ended up eating more meals from gas stations than I am proud of admitting. Throw in the fact that my home was devoid of anything remotely healthy because my wife was in the I-only-want-to-eat-junkfood stage of pregnancy. After about three weeks, my stomach was a ticking time bomb.
This is my story went it finally went off.
Although I should probably give you a little bit of context. JetBlue Park wasn’t exactly designed to be media friendly. The press conference room, along with the clubhouses and locker rooms, were all located in a building beyond the right field fence. There were only two ways to reach it. Either exit the entire stadium at the third base entrance and walk around the batting cages and bullpens to the back entrance of the clubhouse, or fight through the crowds on the stadium concourse, go through the interior of the replica Green Monster wall in left and down a tiny staircase in center field. Either way it was a hike from the press boxes behind home plate. We all had to make that trek several times every day.
With a few notable exceptions, the Boston-based media weren’t exactly a friendly bunch. Quite a few of them had an annoying arrogance about them and tended to look down on the rest of the journalism world, including us “townies” as they liked to refer to us local media. There was a little extra disdain directed at me because of some buffoonery that a former reporter from my paper committed years earlier that resulted in David Ortiz ignoring the entire press corps for months into the regular season. I guess because I also work for that paper, I was guilty of being a buffoon by association. Also, I wore a fedora a lot.
I guess that was why I didn’t really feel bad about what was about to happen to them that day.
It was a full house for the media that morning. The press conference room, a tiny converted office that fit one folding back drop and a chair for the interviewee, and about 15 chairs for the media, was overflowing that day. The Sox general manager Ben Cherington was holding a press conference while the game was going on to discuss some transaction or something. It might have been the owner John Henry. Truthfully, I wasn’t paying attention because as soon as I sat down, my gut started doing that bubbling thing where it sounds like you have a baby alligator living inside of you.
I started wondering how long I could hold it. If this presser finished up quick I could probably make it all the way back around to the press box.
Nope, that probably wasn’t going to happen. I’d probably have to hit up the public bathrooms on the way back through.
One of the Boston reporters did that annoying thing that Boston reporters often do where they repeat the same exact question that was asked earlier in the press conference in the hope that they get a slight different wording in the answer so it looks like they had an exclusive interview and not the same same quotes from the 30-person scrum as everyone else.
I start to panic a little at this point. I did that thing where you elevate the left cheek to gauge the contents. It confirmed that it wasn’t just air that was on its way with a vengeance.
Another reporter question asking the same exact thing that was asked 20 minutes ago. I start making contingency plans.
Do I just run out in the middle of the press conference? I don’t know if I could make it back to the stadium. Can I sneak into the clubhouse and use the players’ bathroom? I’ve actually had to do that before.
Inside the press conference room is a tiny single stall bathroom. It was definitely not an option with a room full of reporters just feet away. Not with the cacophony that was about to ensue.
It was through some divine mercy that one of the Boston media relations people finally cut off the questioning at the half hour point. The room empties quickly. I linger back and feign playing on my phone. I’m holding my sphincter so tight that I am literally sweating at this point. As soon as the room was clear I made a beeline for the tiny bathroom.
I barely got my pants down before the shotgun blast of liquid hot magma erupted. It hit with such force that the backsplash hit my buttcheeks.
And it just kept coming.
It was like my butthole was reciting random names off the shelf while walking down the board game aisle at Toys R Us.
I started questioning all of my life choices. I wondered why it burned so much. I hadn’t eaten anything spicy in several days. Why does it smell like fish? I know I haven’t eaten seafood in over a week. Most of all, I wondered why it wouldn’t stop. My legs had started to go numb from sitting on the bowl for so long.
Great. My ass is now spitting Wu Tang lyrics into the toilet bowl.
And then I hear the worst thing possible come over the intercoms.
“Josh Beckett will be available in the press room in five minutes.”
Josh Beckett was the starter that game. Unfortunately, Josh Beckett had a very Josh Beckett-like outing where he hit a few batters and walked a couple more causing him to hit his pitch count earlier than planned. The reporters who had probably just made it back to the press box would be turning around and coming back in just a few minutes.
The sudden fear caused another spritzer to leak out.
I prayed that was it and wiped. Again. Time was running out.
I tried to flush my shame so I could get out undetected. Unfortunately, I had used roughly 3/4 quarters of the roll of TP. Add in whatever unholy hell I had just unleashed and the the plumbing had had enough. To make matters worse, I was so caught up in the moment that I never even noticed just how bad it smelled.
I ran out as fast as I could. I slipped out the back and walked toward the players parking lot. I tried sucking down a quick cigarette just in time for the parade of reporters to come streaming back around the building and back into the press room. I mixed back in with the crowd and went back to the scene of the crime.
It wasn’t until I walked back in that I realized the full destruction that I had wrought. It was horrible. There was no escape and because it was a busy, every chair in the room was filled. I watched as my fellow reporters squirmed in their seats. You could tell some of them were trying to hold their breath. Dan Shaugnessy walked in late and couldn’t find a seat so he sat down on the floor against the wall right next to the bathroom door. I swear I saw his hair straighten. Beckett came in and sat down. There was a visible pain on his face.
I knew at least that this presser was going to be quick because anyone that opened their mouth was going to pay a price for it. And it was. Under three minutes and everyone was out of there.
I slipped back out with the crowd. I overheard two reporters in front of me talking about the stench.
“It’s even worse in the clubhouse.”
“Did they put a dead fish in a rookie’s locker again?”
By the time I walked outside, I knew that I was in the clear.
I had to work with that same group of reporters every spring for the next six years. They never had a clue it was me that day. After that, I never really minded that general smugness of the Boston media again. That annoying air of arrogance didn’t bother me. I just remembered the time I made them all smell my poo.
And for the unfortunate few who dared to open their mouths that day, well, they probably tasted it too.
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