Promotions, Payback, and Poop Sticks
I haven’t written as much for a week or so now and I feel the need to explain why.
With the Royals’ Double-A Affiliate, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, the travel isn’t that bad because you play 116 out of the 140 games within a three hour radius. But when you play outside the radius, it’s way outside. Like Corpus Christi or Midland, TX which are 16 and 13 hours away respectively.
Two weeks ago, the Naturals were at the end of a week long trip to Texas. At the very end of this trip, I got the exciting call up to Triple-A Omaha. On the day the O-Royals embarked on a 17-day road trip (to make room for the CWS in Omaha), Mrs. Disco and I drove up from Arkansas to meet them. So, despite not having a real home, we haven’t even been to our psuedo-home since June 1st and we won’t get to our new one until June 27th. Not that I need to be at home to post a blog, but I’ve had some bad luck with the Internet in hotels and most of our mornings seem to be spent at airports now, so it’s been tough to get stuff out. Don’t lose hope in life in general, though. These are extenuating circumstances and I will continue to do what I can to make your day as often as possible.
Any time you get called up, it’s an exciting time, so I’d like to share the story of my recent promotion to Triple-A with you. Depending on how much a fan you are, you may have a preconceived notion of what a promotion is like for the player. This story is 100% true and hopefully will make you laugh and make you realize, it’s not always as glamorous as it seems.
In Arkansas, Mrs. Disco found a host family for us to live with and the people were amazing. I’m not just saying this because they are probably reading (Hi guys, we miss you, btw!), but honestly, they were perfect hosts for us. They had a gorgeous house, were there enough that we got to know them, but were gone enough that we got to enjoy the house like it was ours. They made us feel comfortable and completely at home. They were generous, thoughtful, and perfect. Oh, yeah, and did I mention they had a pristine pool in the back?
It was a perfect set-up and Mrs. Disco and I thoroughly enjoyed it our entire stay. We loved every minute there and loved every square inch of that house…except for one single incident about a month ago.
Another bonus of the house was the neighbors had three adorable little kids (twins, age four, and a 14-month old). One day we were playing with the kids and 4-year-old Connor told me he had to go potty. Our host parents were not home, so I brought Connor in and asked him if he knew which bathroom he was supposed to go in. He said yes and walked directly to one of the two guest bathrooms downstairs just off the kitchen. I didn’t know how much involvement I would have, so I stayed within ear shot just down the hall. I heard the seat go up and then heard the sound of a tiny stream going into the toilet. I was proud of the little guy and was impressed. I didn’t know how big a deal it was for him, so didn’t want to make it one, but he was doing great. Kids are so easy, I thought.
“Yeah, buddy, I’m here.”
“I need to go poopy.”
“OK, do you need help?”
Unsure what was going to happen, I walked into the bathroom to find a tiny person with his bathing suit down around his ankles looking at me. I put the toilet seat down and he picked up his hands in a motion I knew meant he wanted help getting up on the toilet. I obliged and soon, we were in business again. Ha, kids are so easy.
“Yeah, buddy, I’m right here.”
“Mommy wipes me cause I don’t know how to yet.”
I walked back into the bathroom to find the little guy still sitting on the toilet. I didn’t know what was about to happen, but didn’t want to seem confused. I knew I would need toilet paper at some point, so I wrapped my hand and upper arm in toilet paper, took a deep breath and was ready for action. I looked at him and he looked at me. He didn’t move.
“Yup.” He took a quick look back at his bottom as if to say, “It’s still there, isn’t it?”
If you wake up in the middle of the night and the room is pitch black, your familiarity with the room is key. If it’s your bedroom and you’ve lived there for years, you can get around without even a hint of a light on. If it’s a hotel room and you just checked in late that night, odds are you’re going to walk into a wall.
I sighed and reached behind him. I was 100% in a foreign hotel room and walked smack into a wall. As a complete novice, my hand had no idea where it was going or what it was doing and before I knew it, I realized it was under water. “Poopy” water. I had gone too deep, overshot the target I was unfamiliar with, and dunked my hand in kid-poop-water. It was mostly cold. I made eye contact with Connor. He was smiling. His feet were dangling off the edges of the toilet, his little bathing suit resting on the ground below.
I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, dry heave, or play poop-a-boo with my little potty buddy sitting there inches from my face. He seemed to be enjoying this thoroughly.
By the time this charade was over, Connor probably had some remnants between his cheeks, but I can guarantee you I had more between my knuckles after dunking my hand on two (and a half) occasions. Connor threw his bathing suit back on and ran outside to go play some more. I threw up in my mouth and ran to the sink to find some bleach for my hand. My right hand, no less! It took close to a week for me stop getting nauseous when I was half-way into brushing my teeth and something would trigger the poop soup memory. With every flashback, I would condemn that one toilet as being the only part of the house I would have a bad taste for when we left. I cursed at it and grew a disliking for the room every time I passed it on the way to the kitchen.
I told you that story to tell you this one:
It was a normal day at our host family’s house; the first one in a long time, for that matter, as we had just gotten back late that night from our road swing in Texas. After a nice breakfast with Mrs. Disco, we were sitting in the kitchen catching up with the real world and the on-line world on our computers. I don’t know if it was the granola or the yogurt or the eggs, but I got the urge to go to the bathroom and had the foresight to know I wasn’t going to have time to get upstairs. So, for the first time since we had moved in two months prior, the same bathroom I had cursed for weeks was my only salvation.
The gravity of my bathroom choice went unnoticed at first because it was out of such necessity. But once I was settled and the situation was under control, I started to ponder the implications of being in the very bathroom I had shunned my entire stay. It was a weird feeling to be in Connor’s shoes this time around. After a while, perhaps my fears had subsided some, but I began to notice all my hatred had perhaps been unfounded as the bathroom really wasn’t that bad. It was decorated with soft colors and an interesting decor that made it surprisingly pleasant. I had hated this room for weeks, but now began to think it was all for naught. The entire house was amazing, why would I think this one room was out to get me. I shouldn’t let one bad experience ruin this room, right?
I stood up with a feeling of
a new sense of appreciation for the bathroom and flushed. I felt in-touch with my fears and emotions and for this I was grateful and proud. As I stood up, I felt taller than when I walked in.
I pushed the lever down and the normal flushing sound was absent. Instead, I heard the sound coming from the toilet that makes your heart sink. The sound is disheartening enough when you are in your own home, but as a guest, it can cause panic. Thankfully this morning our host family was out of town on vacation for a week, so I didn’t have that embarrassment to endure, but regardless, it’s never a good feeling to see the level of water rise around your own waste instead of flushing the slate clean. It had taken weeks, but eventually the bathroom had it’s revenge! I gave it the opportunity and it did not waste any time in getting back at me for all the bad things I had to say about it.
Revenge is a stinky cologne.
My heart began to beat quickly and my mind raced to come up with a solution. Sadly, a quick scan of my memory told me our host family had not outlined where to find a plunger. A second and third attempt to flush did nothing, so I decided there was nothing I could do and I returned to my computer to see if Father Time could work some magic for me.
I collected myself, after all, though the situation was not improving, thankfully it was not getting any worse, so I returned to the kitchen. As I sat at the my computer, the phone rang and our manager broke the great news I would be moving up to Triple-A! Just like that the course of my morning took a 180-degree turn and everything sprung into action as the cheers and happy phone calls and hugs led to packing up and loading of the car to go to Omaha! The clogged toilet of doom could not be further from my giddy mind. Over the course of the next few hours Mrs. Disco and I happily skipped around the house packing our belongings and removing any fingerprints to leave the house looking the way it did the day we moved in. After all, with our host family out of town, we wouldn’t even be able to say goodbye to them, we had to leave the house as nice as we found it. Estimated Time of Departure: 3:00pm.
As the afternoon wore on and we got closer and closer to being ready to make the drive to Omaha, I ran a checklist in my head to make sure we had gotten everything out of the house. Man, it was a big house. ETD: 4:00pm. As I gave mental clearance to the beautiful rooms on the first floor, I got past the kitchen and my eyes settled on the bathroom from hell. It was far from fingerprint-free. It immediately earned it’s way out of my good graces. What a short-lived stay.
Now, I debated not sharing this story at all because social norms would suggest it’s a bit “too much information” and an over-the-top embarrassment. There was a point for close to a week where I had actually convinced myself not to tell the tale.
But I began to think, “why do they sell plungers?” If, in this story, I was the first guy EVER to plug a toilet, plungers would not be mass-produced. There’s a number of Plunger CEO’s somewhere who have very nice houses that have been built by clogged toilets. This eased my inhibitions a bit. And not to get into too much detail, but I will add this disclaimer. I am of the impression this toilet of doom is predisposed to clogs due to a small intake. True, I have based this on one incident, but I can tell you my offering did not seem overly over-bearing.
Despite my reasoning that plungers are mass-produced, I was still apprehensive about posting this. What finally made up my mind in favor posting was when I reminisced about the time in college when I ran into a girl I knew from class as I was checking out of Walmart at 11pm with only a plunger in my hand. Nothing says, “I eat a lot of fiber and bran and have healthy bowels and stay very regular, and as a result, may or may not have my own feces seeping across my bathroom floor as we speak,” like being caught buying a plunger. I felt terrible for myself and wanted to crawl into a hole (though, with my luck, I probably would not have fit), but had to feel even worse for the girl. She had to make small talk with me as we waited in line at the only open register. “Come here often?” Doesn’t really work in that situation. I think she went with, “what do you normally buy here?” to try to change the subject but I brought everything full circle when I started talking about the knock-off Grape Nuts I had just discovered earlier that morning. It was a traumatic experience for me, and my classmate as well. But, if I can survive 5 minutes holding a plunger in line with my classmate, I can survive telling this story. I just hope my audience can fully enjoy my embarrassment this time. So don’t feel bad for me, besides, admit it, you’ve been here before!
Remembering the mess in the bathroom prior to leaving was bittersweet; I was grateful I remembered because I don’t know how to describe what it would have been like to be half-way to Omaha and remember I had left a toilet clogged for our amazing host family who would not find it for another week. “Thanks for letting us stay in your amazing house for two months, guys, we left a little floating token of our appreciation in the toilet just off the kitchen…” On the other hand, I had no desire to go in to the war zone and make amends. ETD: 5:00pm.
I entered the bathroom with much the same approach I had weeks before with Connor: I didn’t really know what I needed to do next, but I knew it wasn’t going to be fun. I had no idea where a plunger was in the house and didn’t want to spend the time or money to go buy one at the store. I tried flushing again; again to no avail. I wanted to rip the toilet out of the wall. It seemed to be smiling at me, thrilled to have gotten it’s payback.
I stood over the toilet weighing my options. No plunger. Flushing was doing nothing, but thankfully didn’t cause the water level to rise so I decide to try flushing a few more times. The water level stayed the same, but none of the problem went away. I had been packing all day and this was not the way I wanted my call-up to go. I was so excited to get to Omaha, but this clog was standing in my way. It had taken a year of success at the Double-A level to get to Omaha, did I really need this one road block?
Twenty-four hours later, I approached the mound in Des Moines, IA as the bases were loaded with no one out and the heart of the Iowa Cubs order coming up. “Tough situation” our manager said and handed me the ball. As the catcher walked back to the plate to receive my warm up tosses, I had a second to reflect on the statement and couldn’t help but think back…I couldn’t help but smile as I thought, “if only these eight thousand people could have seen me just a day ago.”
The pool looked as pristine and perfect as ever as I walked past it to the bushes in the back yard. Within seconds of arriving at the bushes, I found the perfect stick. Moments before, while embarrassingly weighing my options with Mrs. Disco, she suggested the “poop stick” method of breaking up the blockage. It seemed to be the best option available at the time. So I went in the back yard and found a stick about two feet long and about as thick as my pinky in the back yard and walked back into the house. My day had gone from the penthouse to…well you know where this saying goes. For Mrs. Disco, however, the day was looking up. She had to spend several arduous hours (ETD: 6:00pm, btw) packing her pretty little heart
out, but now she was able to reap the reward of watching her husband use a poop stick. She was laughing hysterically in the kitchen as I walked by, scowling.
In the bathroom, I shoved the stick into the toilet and started moving it around (ETD: 6:30) to break up what needed to be broken. I was thrilled to have a tool to aid me this time, but I couldn’t help but be upset at the toilet of doom. Mrs. Disco couldn’t help but be doubled over at the waist slapping her knees. In a sick, karmic kind of way, though, it was a beautiful closure of our stay in the house. As the sweat started to form on my brow, I did my best to effectively execute the PS method, all whilst not picturing what was taking place at the other end of the stick. After what seemed like an hour (ETD: 7:00pm), a beautiful, resounding flush was successful!
I stood, Rocky-esque, with my hands up over my head (I left the stick sitting in the toilet to minimize drippage), victorious. Mrs. Disco caught her breath and rubbed her sore abdominal muscles, which had been convulsing for the length of the procedure.
I washed the poop stick in the now-clean toilet and carried it outside to dispose of it where I found it. As I walked to the bushes to lay the stick to rest, Connor came running up to me from next door, “Mr. Chris, what are you doing with that stick?”
I didn’t know where to start. The same smiley eyes that I had been inches from weeks before had no idea what I was doing with the stick. Connor seemed genuinely confused as to why we had said goodbye just after lunchtime
and yet were still here playing with a
(poop) stick in the back yard past his bedtime. I debated telling him the story, but looked at the clock and saw it was close to 8:00pm. He wouldn’t get it even if I did tell him, I thought.
So instead, we said goodbye and Mrs. Disco and I were finally able to get on our way to Omaha and tackle the next “tough situation”.