As I left the small airport bathroom stall, I couldn’t help but search my memory for whom exactly Montezuma was. Incan? Aztec? I think maybe he was in charge of something around the time the Spaniards started their incursions into what is now Mexico? Whoever he was, fuck that guy. Seriously. With the fresh taste of vomit lingering in my mouth and an ache emanating from my asshole as a result of hot brown liquid violently expelled from the same, I was sure that this Montezuma guy must have been pissed about something to heave a punishment like this on a (relatively) innocent guy like myself.
I love traveling. Seeing new places and meeting new people is my thing. Mexico City was no different and I was excited that my latest gig had brought me there. I had nine days with a good group of guys doing some great work abroad, and was about to walk away seriously impressed with our neighbors to the south. I experienced Dia De Los Muertos first hand, visited the impressive Monument of the Revolution and saw the brutal sport of bull fighting first hand in a massive coliseum. I had a near-run in with the Cartel in a bad neighborhood while snooping around where maybe we shouldn’t have been, but other than that all the sights, food, and people were nothing but impressive. Until it was time to go home.
Our last day in Mexico was the night of the U.S. election, and the irony was not lost on me that I would be watching the coverage from my Mexico City hotel. With nothing but travel back to the States scheduled for the next day, I decided I was going to do Election 2016 right. I stopped at the convenience store across from our hotel for a twelve-pack of local beer and two hotdogs. Back at my hotel, I returned to my fixation on the election coverage. I was witnessing one of the biggest political upsets since Truman vs. Dewey, and had no interest in finding more suitable food than a few gas station hotdogs.
The beers went down in rapid succession, as Florida then Ohio fell to the improbable candidate Donald Trump. By about midnight I started to feel some symptoms of my familiar foe, heartburn. I figured it must be stress, and didn’t give it much thought as I popped a few antacid tablets. Night turned into early morning, and as I listened to now President-elect Trump give his victory speech to throngs of excited supporters adorned in the recognizable red hats of his campaign, it occurred to me that my heartburn had not dissipated at all. I had about ninety minutes until I had to leave for the airport, so I laid down hoping I would wake up sans the chest pain.
Forty-five minutes later, still sleepless, I lurched out of bed to go throw up. It wasn’t much, just a few fragments of those hotdogs. I laid back down and retrieved the remaining forty-five minutes of sleep I had available to me. I couldn’t help but start to think this was some of the worst heartburn I had ever experienced. Forty-five minutes later, we were off to the airport, more Tums down the hatch while en route.
At the airport, our flight was delayed. Then delayed again. I put some breakfast down my throat, hoping it would help my increasingly painful disposition. No luck. After the third delay of our flight, which would have us at the airport for twelve hours before the new departure, we headed to customer service to try and find other arrangements. While standing their negotiating whilst navigating the language gap at hand, I suddenly felt a shift in my abdomen. Breakfast must be due to come out, I thought to myself. I told my friend and co-worker Adam that I had to run to the bathroom, and that I would be back shortly. As I walked to the nearest airport latrine, the urgency in which I needed to evacuate my bowels increased exponentially. By the time I reached the stall, I was ripping my pants down as fast as I could.
Before my pale ass hit the plastic seat, I was already emitting the fiery brown liquid in a volume and intensity that can only be described as what happens when a drunk driver rams into a fire hydrant, bursting it wide open. My body was using the three most important principles of close-quarters combat against me: speed, surprise, and violence of action. At one point I think my feet literally left the ground. Before I had time to consider how dramatically my situation had taken a turn for the worse, the contractions in my stomach that occurred from the violent diarrhea had forced material north. I came off the seat as quickly as I had sat down on it, turning 180 degrees to now experience the expulsion of my bodies contents through my mouth with fecal liquid still dripping off my backside. No doubt in my mind at this point, I was in a bad way.
Cold sweat dripping from the tip of my nose, I sat back down on the seat to continue my business from the original point of exit when I heard the bathroom door open. “Hey Marty, you in here?” I responded in the affirmative to Adam’s not-so-distant voice. He replied that they had booked a new flight, and it was boarding now so we had to hurry. Fuck me, I thought to myself. The walk to our point of departure was the better part of a mile, and the whole time my situation continued to deteriorate.
We arrived at the gate where I promptly opted to sit and wait for the boarding line to go down. Adam handed me my new boarding pass, where I was pleased to find out that I had been moved from an aisle seat in exit row to a middle seat in regular economy. At 6’5”, 250 pounds that would normally be a very uncomfortable move. In the midst of a bacterial assault on my body, it was devastating. Five minutes after sitting in the boarding area, the need to visit the bathroom arose again. I was nervous that I might miss boarding, but I also thought the risk of not going now was too great to shoulder.
Back to the nearest bathroom I went, sure at this point that the suspect hotdogs I consumed the night before were at fault. Another round of explosions rocketed from both ends of my body; explosions that would do Michael Bay proud. I did my business as fast as I could before swiftly returning to my spot in the line to board. I actually felt slightly better, and had a glimmer of hope for the upcoming five-hour flight to Miami.
The flight attendant scanned my ticket, and I walked forward to see my friend and co-worker Bob standing by for me. He was aware of my situation at that point and insisted that we exchange tickets, putting me in his business class seat. I initially tried to refuse the generous offer, but he insisted and in light of being truly terrified of what might happen if I were to combat this toilet-intensive medical situation from a middle seat, I accepted. That switch ended up being crucial to my survival of this bacterial experience of a lifetime.
Before the plane even departed the gate I was already out of my seat and in the airplane lavatory. Remember how I said I was 6’5”, 250? Airplane lavatories are challenging under normal circumstances for a man of my size. In this situation, the cramped quarters made my transition drills exceedingly difficult. Forget carbine to sidearm drills, I was doing ass to mouth (pun intended). At one point I didn’t have time to make the necessary transition, and had to vomit in the sink positioned next to my face while simultaneously expelling demons through my rectum.
All told, during the duration of the flight I went to the bathroom north of eight times. It was definitely more than eight; I just lost count after that due to the cold sweats and truly feeling sorry for myself. I can report that my Mexican row mate was more than accommodating and never once made me feel bad for having to cross over him on my way to the bathroom.
The cherry on top of the trip came upon our arrival to Miami. After the nearly five-hour flight, it was announced that a broke down airplane inhabited our intended gate. We would sit on the runway for thirty minutes while we waited for another gate to open up. I wouldn’t wish how I felt during that time on my worst enemy.
This protracted testimony of my abdominal escapades wouldn’t be complete without my excruciatingly long walk from our gate, aptly positioned at the farthest point of the airport, to customs. Because of the sheer volume of liquid discharged from my body over the course of the afternoon, I was now severely dehydrated. This made my long walk to customs worse than I anticipated with my quads, hamstrings, calves, and the little muscles around my rib cage furiously cramping without any semblance of remorse. I couldn’t walk or breathe well, nor could I drink water to remedy the dehydration for fear of a trip to the bathroom during the customs inspection. It was a truly terrible experience.
This miserable story doesn’t end with much fanfare, but I am happy to report that upon checking in to the hotel in Miami I was presented with some cold ginger ale and some delicious crackers. They were a welcome addition to my internal chemistry at that point, and I even kept them down for a solid forty-five minutes before their ferocious discharge from my weakened anatomy.
I felt better the next day, but will never forget Montezuma nor the revenge that he exacted upon me centuries after his death. I don’t hold my experience against the good people of Mexico, but I do hold specific contempt for the Mexican hot dog industry. Also, Donald Trump is still the President-elect of the United States of America.