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I met Cute Train Guy en route back to New York just after Thanksgiving. (I’m nothing if not completely uncreative with my nicknames.) With the annual tradition of overcrowding and delays, Thanksgiving travel gives me major agita. So, that evening I was relieved to secure a window seat on the Amtrak train and beyond pleased when a cute guy sat down next to me. He was nerdy hot, with glasses and a quick wit. We hit it off and chatted the entire ride. The chemistry was great, but I kept kicking myself that I had left the house in such scrubby clothes and without a lick of makeup. “I’m normally much cuter than this,” I wanted to tell him, but I couldn’t because I was too busy blowing my nose and sneezing for two hours straight. I had been battling a wicked cold throughout the weekend and on my lap was a pile of tissues and throat lozenges, neither of which are an aphrodisiac, unfortunately.

But as the train pulled into Penn Station, he asked for my business card.

Ohh! I thought, Perhaps he’ll call and we can go out once I’m feeling better. Then I can make a better impression!

A few weeks later, I heard from the Cute Train Guy and we made plans to meet at a wine bar. I was excited to have a second chance at a first impression. There would be no snot rags or zinc lozenges this time. I was healthy as a horse!  A horse who loves cocktails! As my luck would have it, nights before the date, I busted my hand. So, I arrived at the wine bar with bandages and gauze wrapped around my pointer finger. My right hand resembled a foam “#1” finger that you see at sporting events.  A giant, foam hand isn’t that big a deal if you can keep it down or be discrete with it, but that wasn’t an option for me. If I let my right hand hang down, blood would rush to the tip of my injured finger and that was wildly painful.  So I had to keep my elbow bent and the foam #1 finger pointing skyward at all times.  Needless to say, my date looked horrified when I walked into the bar and my wrapped hand seemed to scream, “#1 DATE! HELL YEAH!” Like an intrepid explorer, I wasn’t about to let illness and injury prevent me from forming a bond with a cute guy in New York City! By the end of the night, I won over Cute Train Guy, foam finger and all, and we decided to see each other again once my injury had healed.

Cute Train Guy and I decided to meet up for pizza and wine on our third date. Everything seemed to be going swimmingly –good pizza, good conversation, good hair day, good health. We bought a copy of “Gone Baby Gone” (Cute Train Guy was willing to indulge my addiction to Boston movies, a good sign!) and headed to his apartment to enjoy Casey Affleck’s perfect accent.

As we walked, I felt a serious rumble in my tummy (to quote “Buffalo Stance” circa 1991). Not an “I’m hungry” rumble, but rather an “I’m experiencing stabbing paints in my abdomen that portend a serious case of the runs” rumble. How could my go-to dinner of pizza and wine have betrayed me like this? Cute Train Guy had mentioned that he lived in a fourth floor walk-up, but I feared that I wouldn’t even make it up those stairs. My mind raced.

Should I make up an excuse about not feeling well and bolt off into the night and hope to find a nearby Starbucks with a bathroom?  Or should I just hustle up his stairs and seek relief at the mountaintop (his apartment)?

It was Choose Your Own Adventure: Diarrhea Edition. I went with the latter option and made quick work of those four flights of stairs.

Finally, we got up to his apartment and I immediately headed into the bathroom, mumbling something about the constant water refills at the pizza place. I closed the bathroom door as sweat dripped down my forehead.

We’re almost there, I thought.

But the bathroom door was paper thin and Cute Train Guy was sitting in silence on the other side of the door. I couldn’t believe that I was about to drop a liquid deuce in this poor guy’s bathroom and he was going to hear all of it. I had no choice, though. Even if I had come up with an excuse and run off, I probably would have had an accident it in the street. The situation was dire and  I simply HAD to go for it. So I did.

“OK—let me just pop into the bathroom myself, then we’ll put on the movie,” he said as I exited the restroom.

GOOD GOD DON’T GO IN THERE, I thought, but I just smiled weakly and tried to act interested in his apartment furniture.

Either Cute Train Guy had no sense of smell, or he was a master at acting casual, because he managed to start up “Gone Baby Gone” like nothing had happened. Alas, my diarrhea was not “gone baby gone” and about 30 minutes into the movie, I had to head to the bathroom again. Cute Train Guy was polite and asked, “Do you want me to pause the movie until you get back?”

“NO!” I responded, a bit too quickly, “I’ve seen it before—don’t worry about me.”

After that date, Cute Train Guy reached out to me a few times but I blew him off.  He was a lovely guy—cute, friendly, thoughtful—but I just couldn’t face him after my case of the runs. Between that wicked cold, the finger injury, and horrible diarrhea, I decided it was three strikes and I was out.

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