As a writer, nothing gets my blood pumping like a good story with a better message…
But let’s face it: the message to most of my stories is “don’t binge drink and do stupid shit.”
I feel like if I am going to fancy myself some kind of half-ass guru of sorts, I need to up my life lesson game. Fortunately for me, I have just such a story.
UN-fortunately for me, this story also includes a super embarrassing moment of my past I’d rather get erased by my next head injury. But, I made promises not to censor myself… so here we go.
It’s about to get real up in here.
Disaster and Triumph on the Trinity River.
I met my buddy Matt through our mutual tattoo artist and personal best friend, Josh Hall. Matt was younger, somewhat inexperienced in the ways of the Gammill, but was a good egg. We shared a love for fishing, and immediately I started hearing about the mythical creature named Danny.
Apparently, Danny could walk out into a parking lot and come back with a 9-pound catfish. Without a pole. The more I heard about this guy the more I figured he was about as real as my chances of playing point guard in the NBA.
One night I get a call from Matt suggesting that we should go fishing the next morning. At the time I was about 3 vodka drinks into the evening: that magical time when anything and everything sounds like the best idea ever.
“Let’s go to taco bell” – “HELL YES, Let me get my keys”
“Let’s rob a liquor store” – “HELL YES, let me get my ski mask”
After I’d agreed that fishing should happen the next day, Matt told me that Danny would be there, and I honestly got a little nervous. The giddy schoolgirl in me was like “OMG, what am I going to wear?”
Fast forward 12 hours or so later…
The sound of my alarm strangely coincided with the hammer strokes of the invisible little man pounding away at my skull from the inside. If the sun would have been out, I’m pretty sure it would have given me a stroke. But there was no sun penetrating the cracks in my blinds because the weather outside was “unfavorable”. 50 degrees, wind at about 25 miles an hour out of the north, and raining. “Yeah, no effing way” I mumbled to myself just as Matt’s somehow enthusiastic text hit me with directions to the spot we were supposed to be going. I asked about Danny, and Matt said he was on his way. “Well shit… I didn’t shave my legs for nothing,” I thought – and fought my way out of my bed and into some clothes.
The directions Matt gave me took me to a part of Dallas that I’d been before, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember there being water. Between every bump and spec of road grime causing my headache to multiply exponentially, I started to assume I’d been punked. I at least had the sense to grab a breakfast sandwich and an energy drink, so I was approximately 3 strides away from death -which was an improvement.
When I got to where Matt told me to go, all I could see was a brand new apartment complex, a field, and some industrial buildings in the distance. I’ve never dialed a number faster than I dialed Matt. He assured me that there was water, and that Danny was already there. Apparently at the end of the field, there were some tire tracks, and that if I followed them, I would find the water.
Remember now, it’s raining. Not a little mist, but a steady rain. I had a 2-wheel-drive truck with street tires. But, sure enough, there were tire tracks that lead to – of all things – a Maroon Nissan Altima. With fishing poles sticking out of the window.
That’s when my alpha male fought through the hangover and misery and screamed, “If he can get a damn Nissan Altima back there, if you have to drag this truck my your testicles, you’re getting back there, too.”
I ventured into the muck…
The universe must have been smiling on me because I managed to get my truck to the Altima, and then past it – as it was stuck in the mud and I wasn’t stupid enough to park right next to it. And there he was, Mud boots, rain coat, and mythos: Danny Banaszek.
At first, I thought maybe I had butterflies in my stomach…
Nope, that’s a vodka fart battling its way through my digestive tract.
I got out of my truck and introduced myself to Danny. We both did that bullshit machismo thing where we pretended it wasn’t miserable weather with comments like “great day to fish” and “you can’t catch ‘em from the couch.” His eyes held the same look mine did: “we are fucking idiots.”
I walked back to my truck as Danny started to pack up gear to walk it down to the waterline. About two steps from my truck, it felt like I took a poorly-aimed sniper round about 2 inches below my belly button. I froze in agony, and had the very sudden realization that I was in serious trouble…
That gentle bubbling sensation that I thought was a vodka fart was, in fact, a hangover dump. And it was on an express, non-stop, bullet train to get out of my body.
Now, as an outdoorsman from a young age, I can count on one hand how many times I have had to poop in the woods. I’ve been on 3-4 day camping trips where my digestive system just locks up like a Honda civic motor that’s been run with no oil for 8,200 miles. It’s probably one of the only good aspects of my digestive system, but in the bout between my butthole versus potato vodka and fried chicken waste, my poor o-ring was outmatched. Badly.
I somehow managed to get back in my truck. I don’t know how – my brain was a little foggy from using about 1/3 of the blood in my body to flex muscles I don’t even know I had – all to avoid having to burn my truck to the ground after losing the battle with the excrement that was very seriously trying to make its way out of my body.
There are few memories that stick out for a man that are as vividly remembered as the first time you sit on one of your own balls, and the first time in your life that you realize that taking a particular shit is no longer in any way optional or something you have control over.
In one motion I stepped out of my truck, held on to the interior handle of my door, and slipped my pants down. What followed was one of the most foul and horrific things I can imagine or have since experienced. If there was a scratch and sniff sticker of a mass grave of dolphin carcasses in a jungle – this is what the vile waste emanating from my body would have smelled like.
I’ve never whimpered while shitting before. It was humbling.
As fast as the storm had hit me it was over. Sweating, out of breath, and if we are being honest here – crying a little, I managed to clean myself up with about ½ of a roll of shop towels. That’s about the time I realized that I was in full-view of the apartment complex…
The shame ran deep.
I had just violently defecated in a field while fishing with what could have been my new man-crush. I decided that it was probably a good idea to leave.
I walked down the hill to where, thankfully Danny hadn’t seen or heard any of what I was now referring to mentally as “The Horror on the Hilltop” he was stoically baiting hooks and staring into the blowing wind like Ahab standing on the prow of a ship. I was impressed by this. And my brain kept thinking “he totally knows you just shit up there.”
I was saved from my self-induced self-consciousness by Matt’s arrival. Like the eager, young man he was – he tried driving directly across the field to us and got stuck 13 feet after leaving concrete. Not just a little stuck, either… He buried his truck with an enthusiasm I have never, before then or since, seen someone bury a truck in mud.
Danny saved me from the embarrassment of being the first one to quit, and said “Well, I’d better pull these rods so I we can help him.” I agreed so whole-heartedly simply because it meant getting out of this weather and away from my poo on the hill.
I trudged through the mud (carefully) to my truck when I hear panicked shouting from below. I turn around and Danny has one of his rods tucked against his hip and is fighting to keep a grip on it. Unless Danny has somehow hooked a passing nuclear sub in the Trinity river – he is on a monster…
After my uncoordinated, slippery, wet slide BACK down the hill I see Danny switch hands on the rod and thrust his arm into the water…
And out comes this:
The legends were true… It’s all true…
Now back in the beginning of this marathon of a “pooping in a field” story, I promised you life lessons. And in this case there are a few.
You see, If I hadn’t been where I was at the time, I never would have been able to take that picture of Danny and what is still his biggest fish. I’d stayed in bed, maybe Danny wouldn’t have waited as long as he did to leave. If Matt hadn’t gotten stuck when he did… well, that doesn’t really have any bearing here.
I guess the lesson is this: You never know how you’ll impact someone else’s life. Every little decision we make affects everything around us for good or bad. Because of the way things worked out, I can say that I’m glad that I violently shit in a field – because I was able to help Danny capture a memory that he’ll have forever.