Jillian was under the impression that, like Nancy Spungen, she had learned how to handle her hangovers. She had perfected the method of morning self-care, a science that consisted of combining a refreshing orange juice, two ibuprofen and a splash of coconut water to follow. It was always foolproof. This impression of being in total control after a bender was wrong, she found, once she carelessly mixed Kahlúa, Bailey’s, whiskey with La Croix and wine throughout the night. Even Janis Joplin knew better than to flout the rules about mismatched liquids so egregiously.
The motives behind her careless mélange stemmed from the recent death of her grandmother, who she was close to in her youth, but had shied away from her as she became less coherent and more ensconced in her own world, though no one ever diagnosed her with anything like Alzheimer’s. It was because of this fear Jillian had of visiting Evelyn in her “senior community,” the sort of euphemism that sounded somehow like “colored person,” that she missed her chanced to say goodbye.
Learning of Evelyn’s death from her mother on Friday night–a brain hemorrhage, she was informed–she booked her ticket to return home to Grand Rapids while proceeding to get blotto on all the aforementioned substances, grabbing any and every bottle she could find in her freezer. She knew better than to delve into this project of getting drunk as she absolutely had to go buy a few essentials in the morning, including a bullshit sympathy card for her mother and aunt, before leaving for her flight the following afternoon. It was thus that she decided to go to Target precisely when it opened at 8 a.m. that Saturday, an hour of the morning that even Mormons and Presbyterians couldn’t be found out in public. But she would soon learn that her bowel had different ideas for her shopping excursion than she did.
The bathroom at the Downtown Brooklyn Target is a microcosm of gossip and expressions of contempt. This Jillian learned at around 10 a.m., the fourth time she abandoned her cart for the toilet to release the congealed mass within that the Kahlúa and Bailey’s had probably served to fortify with their thick coating. It was while not bothering to shit quietly–someone is always flushing to help drown out the noise, after all–that she heard a woman named Tamika enter the stall next to her. The reason Jillian learned her name was Tamika was a result of the latter screaming, “Bitch, this Tamika you talkin’ to–don’t fuckin’ lie to me!” As Jillian’s backside continued to erupt, she could feel Tamika’s anger emanating from the stall next to her. It was quite disorienting to a person already feeling rather heated from a combination of hangover fever and excrement release.
Unable to finish her business with Tamika yelling at D’Lala on the other line, she decided to try her best to finish up her shopping without letting the effects of her hangover prevent her. But the second she made it back to the greeting card aisle, she could feel her fickle fecal matter welling up again, and if she didn’t run back again to the bathroom, she would suffer the embarrassment of being featured on Gothamist for being the only adult white woman ever to have shit her pants in the Downtown Brooklyn Target.
This time, she chose a different stall; though she had been partial to using the same one, she nearly clogged it up the last time, its industrial quality apparently no match for the contents of her body right now. Switching it up to one of the toilets at the center of the layout, she dipped in quickly, not aware that she had taken someone else’s place who had apparently been waiting in line. Kaneasha, a 26-year-old with a four-year-old child named Jordynn who urgently needed to relieve herself, was not about to let Jillian get away with such an affront.
“That’s racism in motion Jordynn, I want you to see that. That white bitch thought she could take the liberty of cuttin’ in front ’cause we jus second class black folk.” Jordynn started to cry, the crushing feel of a full bladder weighing on her. The sight of her daughter in agony was all it took to send Kaneasha over the edge. Jillian, all the while, was freeing her body further of its unprecious cargo, only vaguely aware of the ire she had invoked outside the stall.
“A-ight, that’s it. White bitches got to learn.” With that she removed her acrylics and put them in her back jeans pocket, flipped her weave back and kicked in the door to find a blanched-looking Jillian letting loose, only to clamp up her sphincter in surprise over this extreme violation.
“Da fuck you think you doin’? Get yo shit ass off the toilet so my daughter can use it.”
Jillian was frozen; never had she imagined that using the Target bathroom could result in such controversy. She knew if she moved, the results would be catastrophic, but she also knew if she didn’t move, the results might be even more catastrophic. So she sat there, immobile, as she often did metaphorically in life as well. It was better than having to determine just how humiliating her fate was about to be as Kaneasha pulled her up from the seat and tossed her out of the stall like she was little heavier than a one-third full sack of grains. Her bare glutes stuck to the floor, she had a vision of being rushed to the hospital for a newly classified infection called Target Toilette Disease. Kaneasha barely batted an eyelash as she flushed the very polluted toilet and grabbed Jordynn to shove her inside before closing the door.
Jillian, with enough of the shame having been processed, pulled up her pants and walked past the line of murmuring women to wash her hands. She wasn’t going to make the flight in time, and she still hadn’t found a sympathy card. Although, now, she wondered if they didn’t also make one specifically called “Sorry You Got Diarrhea at Target & Missed Your Grandma’s Funeral Because You’re a Mid-30s Fuck Up That Still Mixes Alcohol As Only A Junior High Schooler Would.”