The plan for Friday morning was simple.
- Leave New Jersey at 6:30.
- Hit up my dental spa in Connecticut for an 8:00 a.m. teeth cleaning.
- Get back on the highway and continue driving north up to my hometown.
But this plan was disrupted early on, because some shit got in the way. Literally! Literal, actual shit got in the way. Rain, traffic, and vomit were also involved. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s just start from that first bullet point and work our way down.
It was gross and rainy outside. Graig (boyfriend), Tank (dog), and I left our apartment about 10 minutes late. Not off to a great start — but! We had scheduled a 30-minute traffic buffer anyway, and Waze still promised us an 8:05 arrival time. So I was only mildly stressed out. People are five minutes late to dentist appointments all the time.
From the moment we merged onto the slick highway, traffic was a problem. By the time we approached the George Washington Bridge, we were moving at the pace of a large tree. (Which is to say that we were in fact not moving.) By the time we finally crossed the bridge and traffic cleared up, it was 7:45. Our Waze ETA had updated itself three times by then and had seemed to stabilize at around 8:25. I called my dental spa to let them know I’d be late. They were actually pretty chill about it.
But the rain! The rain was not chill. Even though we were no longer stuck in traffic, the relentless spraying from other cars made it difficult for Graig to see clearly enough to speed. Meanwhile, Tank — a dog — was getting restless. He paced around the back seat and jumped on the center armrest every few miles to check in on us.
“Remind me again,” Graig eventually said, “why you won’t just find a dentist in Jersey?”
“Because it’s a dental spa,” I replied, as if that explained everything. (Which it actually kind of does; dental spas are rare and delightful.)
We finally crossed into Connecticut at about 8:20, which meant we had just a few short exits to go. It looked like I might actually make it by 8:30 — not ideal, but not wildly egregious given the circumstance.
And then the car suddenly filled up with a putrid odor. A most putrid odor. I knew it had to be a Tank-fart, but it smelled worse than his usual variety — more aggressive, with top notes of dead flesh and rotting garlic. I turned around to yell at him and saw that he was squatting over the seat, assuming his full I’m-about-to-take-a-shit position.
“TANK!” I screamed, hitting him and Graig at the same time. “NO!”
“Don’t shit in my car!” Graig howled, trying to use his free hand to intervene without crashing into a guardrail in the process. The smell was getting stronger. It created a thick fog of pure chaos in the vehicle. “DO NOT SHIT IN MY CAR, TANK!”
We successfully snapped him out of his about-to-take-a-shit stance, but now he was huffing and puffing and kind of foaming at the mouth. I mean, I guess I would be too if I suddenly had to hold in a shit that I had already mentally greenlit for departure. Still, we were concerned. Was he sick? He’s not a shitting-in-the-car kind of dog! He’s a good boy!
As we kept trying to get him to hold it in, he jumped over the armrest into my lap — which I then immediately envisioned covered in dog shit because my mind loves to envision worst-case scenarios against my will.
We knew that making him wait 10 more minutes would be literal animal abuse, so we got off at the very next exit to let him go. Right as we pulled into an empty parking lot, the dental spa called me to see how much longer I would be.
“I’m so sorry,” I said, a carsick bulldog still shaking on top of me as Graig parked. “Probably about ten more min…”
Tank projectile vomited directly onto my legs. It was a macabre scene, but I managed to only let out the quietest little gasp so as not to alarm the dental spa receptionist on the other end of the phone.
“…utes. Would ten more minutes be okay?” I glanced downward, stunned that I had evaded being shat on only to get puked on instead, and finally just admitted defeat. “Actually, I’m sorry. Can we just reschedule?”
Graig looked over at the mess of foamy vomit — most of which ended up on my jeans and not his car — and just started laughing. Fair. I opened the door; Tank jumped out into the rain and peed on a nearby patch of grass. I stepped out and tried to figure out how I’d clean off my jeans without any paper towels or napkins or even tissues. I recalled that Graig keeps Armor All wipes in his backseat.
And then. I opened the back door, looked down, and saw that Tank had somehow ALREADY COVERTLY TAKEN A GIANT fucking DUMP all over the FLOOR when we weren’t looking. No wonder the smell was so repugnant! It wasn’t the smell of a shit that was aborted in the eleventh hour — it was the smell of a shit, period! And it wasn’t solid or neat, either. It was mushy and took up a lot of surface area.
So this was actual hell. I had taken a whole day off just to wake up early and sit in rainy traffic for two hours and miss my dentist appointment and then get vomited on and then stand outside in the pouring rain while a backseat full of dog shit stared me in the face. It was not spa-like at all.
WHY, GOD? I wondered. WHY?
I called Graig over to show him the crime scene, and he just started cracking up again.
“We actually couldn’t have invented a worse morning if we tried,” he said. “This is incredible.”
He used poop baggies and Armor All wipes to eliminate the waste as best he could until we’d have access to real cleaning tools and chemicals. Meanwhile, I used a combination of rain and a single Armor All wipe to deal with the puke on my jeans. Watching Graig find so much humor in the situation helped me calm down a bit, even though I was still mourning the vision of the harmonious Friday morning I had previously dreamt of for myself.
The three of us finally piled back into the car, soaking wet and making even more of a mess but not caring at all by then. As Graig was about to pull out of the parking lot, Tank puked again — this time all over his backpack in the backseat. We didn’t have any Armor All left, so Graig pulled out a sacrificial pair of boxers from his luggage and used them as an impromptu rag. It was like we were on Survivor.
As we got further and further into Connecticut, Tank returned to his normal self. He eventually even mellowed out and went to sleep. And then the rain stopped! The storm seemed to have passed. We laughed about it for the rest of the ride home. Even I had to appreciate that the universe wasn’t lazy in its quest to fuck up our morning; it really went all out. I can respect that! But I was also grateful that it wasn’t even worse.
“Imagine if Tank had, like, stepped in his shit while we were still driving?” I asked Graig as we continued our post-debacle discussion. “Imagine Tank’s paws just completely covered in shit, pacing around and jumping all over the car. That would not have been funny at all. That would have just been mean.”
“True,” he said. “We’re very lucky.”