Awkward IBS stories: the one about the model restroom taking the cake

by Sofia Martimianakis

A photo of a stairwell, dimly lit by purple light, with a neo sign at the bottom of the stairs: 'Toilets.' Image for article: 'awkward IBS stories: the one about the model restroom.'
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Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

At any point I could get the sudden urge to run to the restroom, not knowing for sure which end it’s coming out from. I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome and gastroesophageal reflux disease. I’m also a foodie who gets invited to media events and restaurant openings. As you can imagine, I’ve had my share of awkward moments.

A small business was hosting a product launch for protein pancakes at a swanky event venue downtown. I wasn’t feeling particularly well that morning, but it had been a few months since seeing my foodie friends, and I was excited to catch up. The whole car ride there, my tummy was gurgling. I was worried, knowing something was about to strike, and it wasn’t going to be pretty.

Diarrhea. The fiery kind. I needed a restroom and fast. Checking in with the doorman, working at a sloth’s pace to find my name on the list of influencers, I couldn’t think straight. Of course, the party room was on the top floor of the waterfront condo. The very top floor.

In the elevator, I hit PH3 and tried to distract myself by reciting the alphabet backward in my mind. Suddenly, the elevator stopped on the fifteenth floor and two beautiful girls I recognized joined me inside. They’re Instagram famous fitness bloggers, who apparently live in the building. Here I am, clenching my butt cheeks as hard as I can while they casually chat about the subpar smoothie bowls they just had. Time is running out.


Read more: A crohn’s tale: the day I pooped myself in New Zealand


Turns out they’re attending the same event I am and lucky for me they know their way to the venue. Unlucky for me, the tall blonde one has to pee and finds the washroom before me. Sweat drapes my forehead as I anxiously await my turn.

Finally, I enter the futuristic restroom. The finishings, the toilet, almost everything is black. No windows. That’s okay I think, one of these ten buttons must be for the fan. Lights turn on in the shower. The floors begin to heat up. But the fan either doesn’t exist or can only be activated if you speak robot. No more seconds to spare.

After the hurricane passes, I look like I’ve given birth. My hair is matted on my face, I’m pale as a ghost, and more than anything I wish I were at home. Before I can escape, I need to destroy the evidence. Imagine my shock when I realize there’s no way to manually flush the toilet. I start pressing all the buttons on the wall again when someone knocks on the door. “Just a minute!” I call.

Finally, the futuristic toilet decides to flush, in the weakest, most environmentally friendly way possible, leaving behind far too much evidence. Ah, but I remember seeing a toilet brush! In a sleek all-black container, that won’t budge.

A decorational brush? Really? My angry sighs, most certainly audible to the foodies lined up outside, escalate into groans. I sit on the toilet again and stand up, hoping it decides to flush one more time. It doesn’t.

I open every tiny drawer searching for a solution, but they’re all empty. It’s a model restroom. Just for show, to look good in pictures, so people book this venue for fancy events, most definitely not equipped to handle diarrhea explosions.

It would be rude to leave without at least saying hello to the event organizers and taking a few pictures. How else could I do my part in representing the product, I wasn’t able to try but would later say I loved, on social media? I refrained from making eye contact with anyone who went to the restroom after me. I was too queasy to eat, and I only lasted another ten minutes. On my way out, I heard one of the fitness bloggers from the elevator say, “She probably had the same rancid smoothie bowls we did.”

Take it from me, first impressions are about as reliable as model restrooms.

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Portrait of Sofia Martimianakis
Article by Sofia Martimianakis

Sofia Martimianakis attended the University of Toronto while Trinity College still had a secret society. She completed her MA in Literary Studies at the University of Waterloo where geese, not so secretly, rule the campus.

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