I lived abroad for a few years and have logged quite a bit of international travel. While going to school in Durham, England, it only took six months to decipher the Geordie accent. I celebrated my first NYE in Scotland…for seventy-two hours. I got felt up in Ireland… on a trampoline. I got my first yeast infection in Spain. I drank gorgeous Cotes du Rhone wine in France. In a rural part of Mexico, despite my DDD bosom, I was called, “sir” every day for three weeks.
Yet, nothing quite prepared me for Daegu, South Korea. I breezed through twenty-five-plus hours of travel; two countries, two flights, two shuttles, one bus, six trains, and one taxi ride. Unfortunately, upon arrival I had to pee. Katie, meet shit- and dirt-stained floor toilet. Shit- and dirt-stained floor toilet, meet a 5’3″ germaphobe. As you can imagine, our courtship was destined for greatness. Did I mention that I was menstruating at the time? After cursing out the toilet as if I was in an argument with a Bodega guy on any corner in NYC, and accusing it of criminal eagerness to transmit unheard of diseases through my vagina and anus—or both, I opted out of peeing on the dial-a-disease toilet wheel, and into peeing on myself a few hours later. What fun!
At the hotel, I was irked, exhausted and drenched from the waist down. The ground floor had a beautiful front desk with nobody manning it. Not because it was 3 A.M. No, no, no. Beyond overtired, my mother and I were close to killing ourselves—and each other. I snapped, “Who the fuck keeps a front desk on the third floor without a sign?!”
My mother looked at me and said, “Really, Katie?! We’re not here five minutes and you’re already cursing someone out?”
I said, “Ma, the front desk is on the third floor. There isn’t a sign, a valet, or a concierge to let guests know. What do you want from me?! I URINATED ON MYSELF! CUT ME SOME FUCKIN’ SLACK!” As expected, guilt and shame immediately consumed me, prompting an apology for my egregious outburst. Shortly thereafter, a front desk lady laughed at me and asked, “What is wrong with you?!” Did I just meet a Korean version of myself? A fast friendship was born and consummated with an outburst of mirth.
As soon as I entered my hotel room, after a thorough inspection (germaphobe—stay with me), I turned the air conditioner on high, opened every window, and had a fan brought up to my room. Simply put, I’m an oven on legs. I turned on the shower and ogled a toilet standing fourteen inches off the ground. She was clean, stupendous and all mine!
Katie Schwartz is a comedy writer, producer and essayist, among other writerly things. She collects vintage tchotch, not bodies, which is surprising considering her obsession with death humor. You can catch her weekly column at Monkeybicycle and other print work on Huffington Post, Exquisite Corpse, or here. If you’re not bored to death, watch some of her produced work at FKR.TV, FunnyOrDie or on the YouTubes.