Video

Le Grande Deception, or; That Time I Lied To My Best Friend For Ten Years About Pooping On His Van

7 Apr

Originally performed at Happy Endings, a Shelf Life Books reading series. Essay version below, for those who would not rather listen to my dumb voice.

CHAPTER I: NOT-VERY-MUCH SEX, LIES AND CASSETTE TAPE

My best friend Jeff and I grew up in a small town called Brooks. That’s a small town south of Calgary, where I live now, and there’s one thing that everyone who lives in Western Canada seems to know about it: it smells like poo. Literally. I am assured this is due to the town’s proximity to a slaughterhouse and its attendant feedlots, and not just because it’s a bluntly apt metaphor for my feelings about the place.

I mention it because that’s what this story is about. Poo. It’s one of the stories Jeff and I like to tell the most about growing up in Brooks. It’s the story about the time I shit Jeff’s van while we were camping.

And I don’t want you to think that means its a grossout poo story. Not just a grossout poo story anyway. This story is about the power of friendship.

But here’s the thing. This happened over ten years ago, and we’ve probably told the story fifty times each since then. But what Jeff didn’t know is that I’ve been lying about part of it for over ten years. Until I Kaiser Soze’d him in the video above.

It was May long weekend, 2003, when Jeff and I were both substantially less cool than we are now. That said, Jeff was easily the coolest of the two of us, and even if he didn’t know it, I did. He was the conduit between our weird clique of two and the rest of the high school’s social infrastructure. He’s probably the only reason I lost my virginity before I was twenty and no, not to him.

CHAPTER II: ALL YESTERDAY’S PARTIES

But somehow, we got invited to this big party with the popular kids. In case you’ve never been to a party in the country, here are some quick facts about them: they take place outdoors miles from town, fifteen year olds drink like fifteen-year alcoholics, and somewhere there is a ten-foot pile of scavenged wood on fire. Imagine a witch burning, if the witch was brain cells and dignity.

So we gathered the supplies we knew we would need for the bacchanal: one two-six of Smirnoff Vodka, one two-six of Jack Daniels, blankets, pillows, a few packages of my favourite cinnamon chewing gum Dentyne Fire, and one cassette tape single of Lenny Kravitz’ 1993 single “Are you gonna’ go my way?” And I should be clear — it wasn’t the whole album. It was just the one song on a cassette tape for no good reason.

On the way out into the prairie wilderness, “Are you going to go my way” immediately got stuck in the tape deck, so we listened to that song between 20 and six thousand times–I don’t remember exactly. I do remember that sometime in between the third time it played and the first time I punched myself in the balls to see if I could still feel anything, we picked up this other kid named Ian, who had somehow talked Jeff into giving him a ride.

Ian was the worst. He was the type of small town hick who tried to make up for being half the size of everyone else by being twice as mouthy. He thanked Jeff for the ride by informing him that Lenny Kravitz was “gay,” the song we kept listening to was “gay,” and that Jeff and I probably got the tape stuck because we were “gay.” Because as everyone knows, homosexuals love Lenny Kravitz, but hate repairing audio equipment.

But the thing I hated most about Ian was how I related to him. Ian was just a dumb kid who wanted friends and, misguided as he was, thought that calling everything “gay” was the best way to do that. And in Brooks, he wasn’t entirely wrong.

Once we had picked up all the useful stuff — and Ian — about twenty minutes later we almost died. The van went sideways on the mud road out to the lake where everyone was camping. We skidded sideways so the front end of the van was mere feet from a sheer drop onto a rocky lakeshore, all three of us yelling over Lenny’s awesome guitar shredding until Jeff managed to right us at the last moment.

We caught our breath, then Ian said: “that was super gay.”

We got to the party with what I thought was pretty good story to tell. I’d like to tell you that it made us cooler, if only for a moment. And how in that moment I learned that “coolness” in highschool is nothing but a fleeting idea no one even really pays attention to through all the booze and hormones. And how when I realized how facile coolness was, I achieved true coolness, like some kind of redneck Siddhartha.

But that didn’t happen and basically no one cared. I’m not sure if they just didn’t believe us or if we were like the weird kid in kindergarten who brought their heart surgery scar for show and tell and bummed everyone out.

Besides, everyone was too busy watching the actually cool guys taking turns seeing how far they could climb up the flaming woodpile while everyone else threw empties at them. (Just in case you forgot this story takes place in Brooks).

CHAPTER III: DETECTIVE TERRY AND THE CASE OF THE POOPED VAN

The rest of party is a gap in my memory. I don’t know if that’s because I drank most of the vodka we brought myself and chased it with smokes and snoose, or just because consuming a shitload of vodka and tobacco isn’t very memorable. But the next thing I remember is when the world started to spin and then, suddenly, turned itself off.

I woke up the next morning to the sound of rain on metal. Somehow I had managed to get myself into the passenger seat of Jeff’s van, and I had an old-tobacco taste in my mouth that even my beloved Dentyne Fire couldn’t get rid of. Jeff was up too, and he invited one of the other campers, a guy named Terry, in to hang out and wait out the rain. He got in through the sliding door, and I moved over so he could sit in the passenger seat.

But when Terry went to leave, he went out through the passenger side door. He froze, looked up at Jeff with a horrified grin and said: “Dude. Someone shit right on your running board. There is a huge pile of shit right here.”

Jeff sat up for a better look, then began to take stock of the people who might wish some kind of poo-based revenge on him. He didn’t get far down the list before Terry interjected again.

“And whoever did wiped their ass with a pack of Dentyne fire!”

“Kyle, you son of a bitch!” Jeff yelled, throwing himself at me and punching me about the head and face. And that is the story of how detective Terry cracked the case of the pooped van. Lucky for me, there is a huge social distinction between someone who gets drunk and poops on a van and someone who gets drunk and poops himself. One is a hard-partying crazy-guy. The other is my dad.

CHAPTER IV: BUT HERE’S THE THING

You might remember earlier, when I said that some of this was lies. You might also remember earlier when I said I drank and smoked and chewed so much that I blacked out. Yeah. That part.

I never blacked out. I fell over a couple times, but I made it back to the van. I clawed my way into the passenger seat and passed out. Y’know, like an alcoholic.

But then I woke up. I had two thoughts in my head. One: I either needed to poop, or have an emergency c-section. Two: If anyone saw me pooping, this would be the last cool-kid party Jeff and I were ever invited to. And rightly so. Shitting in plain view was a party foul back when parties were a circle of like-minded cavemen jacking it into a fire.

So I staggered out of the van and tried to locate a suitable place to poo even though the world still looked like a Gaspar Noe film. But we had parked on flat, as you do when you’re camping. There were tents around. Nowhere to even break the sight lines from the still-raging fire, let alone create some kind of privacy. I was out of time. My guts were howling. Howling like a poop wolf.

But then I had an idea, like Poop Macguyver.

I would open the door of the van, wrap a seatbelt around my arm and lean out, using the door to block the sight of my pooping ass from the rest of the group. Once the deed was done who was to know who was to know whose ass had really pooed the poop. Or so I thought.

The details you can infer from the evidence presented above.

I tried to go to bed so I could wake up and be as surprised by the poop outside the van as anybody, but I eventually gave up and got back into the passenger seat because that was the only place where my eyes-camera wasn’t being directed by a mad French sadist. It wasn’t until the next day that I realized this attempt to throw Jeff off my poop tracks would leave behind the most incriminating evidence of all.

There was definitely poop on those sheets. They were ruined. They looked like a sewer child’s ghost costume. And they were sitting up on the sleeper, just waiting to be discovered.

CHAPTER WHATEVER: THE TELLTALE POOP SHEETS

I might have failed to dissociate the crime from myself, but I succeeded in convincing Jeff and Terry that I had no memory of it. I thought that not being able to remember doing it diminished my guilt. Y’know, like a teenage alcoholic.

Perhaps inevitably, on the way back to town the van broke down, and we had to call my dad to come give us a tow. Jeff crawled back into bed to nurse his hangover, which gave me just the cover I needed to start stuffing the poop sheets into a plastic bag. It was like a scene in a spy movie where the spy makes chit-chat with someone while casually bugging their room, except that the bugs were poopsheets and the theme music was Lenny Kravitz’s 1993 single “Are you going to go my way.”

“Did I tell you what happened with Ian last night,” Jeff asked. I told him no, just then realizing that we had just driven someone miles away from town and, apparently, left him there.

Ian, on top of being grossly homophobic and generally unpleasant, had apparently started an argument that led to a drink being spilled in the van. Which led to Jeff beating him senseless and throwing him out of the van.

I stared at my bag of poop sheets, remembering the flurry of blows I had endured that very same morning and thought: “I can never tell him about this.”

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