Buried in a short, one-page article about network TV upfronts in the June 16 issue of Rolling Stone (Desperate Networks) was a bit that most people would miss if they didn’t read as carefully as I do. It was sort of a social traffic accident, but worthy of a much bigger story if you ask me. While most people don’t find fatal traffic accidents exceptionally entertaining either, there is a morbid curiosity that compels us to look for blood, or in my case, brain matter scattered across four lanes of highway when stumbling upon a horrific TC with injuries. This bit was like that, only the substance wasn’t blood, but shit.
The bit I’m talking about is just an anecdotal reference to an incident from the 2004 upfronts in which a junior media buyer passed out at one of the many wild parties thrown by the networks. In and of itself that wouldn’t merit much notice, but this particular incident also included some rather unusual facets. For one, the junior media buyer was a woman. For another, she passed out only after shitting her pants… and the white couch she was lounging on. Of course, she was fired, with good reason. Under the circumstances, it is understandable, but it got me thinking… and as many of you have discovered at one time or another, that is a dangerous thing.
I began to think of what it would be like to get so drunk that you passed out and shit yourself. I mean, I’ve known people who have pissed themselves after imbibing too much, but to lose control of your sphincter? How much alcohol does it take for your to mistake a white couch with a white porcelain throne? Do you struggle with the compulsion to defecate for a period of time only to lose the battle with the phrase, “Well, when you gotta go, you gotta go!”
I had a roommate the first few years I lived in San Francisco. He was a great guy, funny, a good designer, parents still married and committed to each other, but he drank, chain smoked cigarettes, and couldn’t function effectively without smoking a few bongloads before work each morning. To say that it was a challenge to live with him is an understatement. To call his life a trainwreck would be a slight to all the trainwrecks that have actually included trains.
We both worked at a growing ad agency in the south bay (Actually, it was in Newark, which is geographically and economically opposite Palo Alto on the San Francisco Bay) and as such, we worked hard and played harder. There was rarely a friday night that didn’t find our entire creative department knee deep in empty liquor bottles and soggy cigarette butts. When you’re in your twenties and seeing big money roll in for the first time, such displays of debauchery are not only common, but a right of passage into adulthood. Like many of my compatriots, I got drunk, but rarely ever to the point of passing out. I walked a fine line between control and chaos. Some people can do that… others, like my roommate, can’t.
On one occasion, we took a road trip to the Central coast to attend a wedding of some mutual acquaintances. One of my college buddies invited me and my friends to crash out at their pad while we were there. Long story short, we went out drinking and my roommate got so drunk he passed out on their couch upon our return. The next morning my roommate pulled me aside and informed me that he had an “accident” on their couch. He had pissed himself during the night. The couch, an offwhite number, wasn’t necessarily ruined, but I ask you, would you want to sit on a couch that despite dozens of cleanings, smelled like the urinal at a frat house?
The final straw was when my roommate got up in the middle of the of the night, ambled into the living room where my friend Molly and I were watching a movie and pissed in the corner nearest the balcony door. In his defense he was aiming out the open glass door, over the balcony, and hopefully on our downstairs neighbors uncovered patio, but his urinary trajectory was a tad off. I kicked him out the next morning, and while it makes for an interesting cocktail party story, it wasn’t a pleasant conversation at the time.
Pissing is one thing, but shitting is quite another. I wonder what happened to this girl who pooped her way to infamy at this network party. Anyone who has ever worked in advertising will be quick to point out how incestuous the industry is, so I wonder if she was black… er, brown-balled out of a job in advertising forever forward. Did she in fact try to land another shitty job in the hopes that by aiming lower, she could slip past unnoticed? During the interview did the exec look at her for a few moments, eyes squinting with the weight of recollection and say, “Hey, weren’t you the girl who passed out at the FOX party last year? I recall you shit on the couch. Do you think they ever got that stain out? One of our major accounts is with Fabreze, which would come in quite handy for those folks, huh?” The query followed immediately with a quick, shameful exit in search of a job where people didn’t know you as the girl who pooped her pants. I hear the Starbucks in Nepal is hiring.
These are the thoughts that kept me out of the really good colleges.