My friend Summer* and her boyfriend Sam* (*names were changed for reasons you’ll soon discover) were among my friends that put off their spring break trip last year. So this spring break they were ecstatic when they found out they would finally be able to go on their beach vacation.
Unfortunately, about two weeks before she was about to leave for their trip, Summer had a terrible gallbladder attack and needed emergency surgery. When I visited her in the hospital, I was shocked to hear that she was still planning to go on her trip. She assured me that her doctor had said that she would be good as new within 5-7 days. However, I seriously doubted that her doctor felt that she would be good to travel out of the country within two weeks.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was wrong when I picked up Summer to take her to the airport a fortnight later. She looked great and was very convincing when she told me she felt great too. We picked up Sam on the way, and not longer after I had wished them safe travels and sent them on their way.
Over the next few days, I saw a myriad of photos pop up on Facebook of their trip. It looked like they were having a great time! They had taken pictures with lots of other couples, and I recalled that Summer had mentioned they were going with several of Sam’s work friends.
But the next morning, which would have been day four of their trip, I got a Facebook message from Summer: “I’m coming home early, the most awful thing has happened. Can you pick me up tonight at the airport?”
Oh no! My mind raced with all the awful things that can happen on a beach trip: A shark attack? They got robbed by the cartel and Sam is being held hostage? Someone stole their credit cards and passports and they are being deported by the Mexican government?
“Of course I can, just let me know what time and I’ll be there. Are y’all ok?” I wrote back.
I never got a response. Later that evening, Summer sent me a text:
“My plane just landed.”
When I got to the airport, Summer was outside with her luggage. I pulled up and helped her load her suitcase.
I waited until we were both in the car, then turned to her with curious eyes.
“Now, what in the world happened? Why did you come home early?” I asked.
“Can we go to a bar? I need a stiff drink,” Summer said.
Twenty minutes later, we were comfortably seated at a large picnic table with twinkling outdoor garden lights making the setting feel quite serene, and I once again prodded.
Summer rested her elbows on the table and covered her eyes with her hands.
“Well, you were right. I had no business going on a long trip like that right after having my gallbladder out,” she said with a sigh.
My inner self was clamoring to say “I told you so!” But I managed to keep my mouth closed.
“No one told me that everything I eat will just go right through me. Sam thinks I got sick from drinking the water, but I didn’t drink any of the water so I just let him think that,” she wailed.
“So you just came home because you were making frequent stops in the bathroom?” I asked, not exactly sure what had made her so upset.
“No, I came home because I nearly died of humiliation and I don’t think I can ever face those people again,” she sobbed. I reached over and put my arm around her.
“Sam and his friends wanted to go deep sea fishing, so they rented a big boat and me and the other girls were just planning on sunbathing on the boat while they fished. Well, his friend Mike’s wife, Jenn, packed us a lunch. And knowing that I can’t eat anything without immediately needing to use the bathroom, I didn’t want to eat it,” she explained.
“There wasn’t a bathroom on the boat?” I asked.
“Well of course, but I couldn’t USE THE BATHROOM in there!” Summer basically yelled at me. I looked at her incredulously.
“As far as Sam knows, I don’t produce any excrement at all, and I certainly can’t be blowing up the bathroom on a boat trip with his friends!” she argued.
I felt my eyes roll and motioned with my hand for her to continue the story.
“Well, everyone kept asking me why I wasn’t eating, and it made me feel awkward, and I was actually really hungry, so I went ahead and ate. And, of course, within about 10 minutes I had to go. Like had to go emergency #2.”
I snorted with laughter but tried to compose myself.
“But I couldn’t use the boat bathroom, so I pretended that I was really hot and I just dove into the water and swam out a ways from the boat so I could handle my business,” she said.
“You mean your emergency #2?” I asked.
If looks could kill the one she shot me with would have done me in.
“Yes. My emergency #2. But then the guys start yelling at me to hurry up and get back on the boat because they see a large shadow in the water moving quickly towards me.”
My heart leapt in my chest. It was a shark after all!
“So I start frantically trying to get back on the boat, but I wasn’t done with my business!”
“So you would rather be eaten by a shark than let your boyfriend know that your stomach is upset because you just had a major surgery where they removed an organ from your body?” I asked her.
“Yes!” She cried. “And then there they all are, screaming and yelling, and his friend tries to throw me the life preserver to get me back on the boat faster, when all of the sudden, I can see the shadow too, and it’s too late —“
I immediately look under the table to make sure she has all of her limbs intact.
“ — and I realize that it’s a school of fish and they are having a feeding frenzy with my emergency #2!”
I proceeded to laugh so hard I nearly fell off the bench of the picnic table.
“It’s not funny!” she yelled at me.
My raucous laughter obviously proved otherwise.
“Then, as I was swimming back to the boat, the fish start trying to get into my bathing suit bottoms and starting biting my butt. When I finally got back on board, I realized there was one still in there, and it began to thrash around and I just panicked and yanked down my bikini bottoms really fast, and I might as well have taken off a dirty diaper right there on the boat deck.”
I gasped in horror…. oh no…
“Yes, it was awful. Everyone was just silent, Sam handed me my swimsuit cover up, and I just asked to go back to our room. We rode in silence back to the beach. I got off the boat and told Sam to go back and have a good time. I packed my things and got an Uber to the airport and took a redeye flight back home.”
“So Sam has no idea where you are?” I asked.
“Yes, I left him a note. Just saying I got horribly sick and needed to come home early. He sent me a message back.”
“And? What did it say?” I probed.
“He just said that he understood and he reminded me that he had told me not to drink the water and told me some harrowing tale about how one of his friends ended up with a parasite from drinking bad water.” She sighed exasperatedly. “I just went with it. I don’t know how I’m ever going to live this down,” she said with a groan.
“Well…” I said, taking another drink of my cocktail, “think about how amazing you’ll look in your bikini come this summer, and look on the bright side, you made it out of there alive because the shadow didn’t end up being a shark, just an unfortunately timed shart.”