Before heading to Honduras (the third time), I had a nice little job at a dot com advertising company as a manager of a small team. I had become tired of myself in my management role; I wanted more freedom, so when the opportunity arose to take a layoff, I jumped. I was headed south. Andrea and I were on to a new adventure. We were returning to Honduras with the naïve intention of staying for at least one full year and potentially a lifetime. However, first were the numerous parties and social obligations one feels indebted to entertain when working for a dying company.

I couldn’t simply leave, I had to drink heavily with my colleagues first. Every Thursday evening, engineers, some management and I would work late into the night, sometimes staying in the office until one or two am. It was a required part of the job, however, to make it more enticing a culture of heavy drinking and free pizza had been propagated by company big wigs. It’s hard to say when it went from a casual beer to everyone bringing in bottles of Oban scotch, but I do remember that I was slightly uncomfortable with this evolution. It was my job to sign off on the end product of the night. One Thursday, I remember there was a major technical problem. Basically our product simply didn’t work. I was drunk, my boss was drunk and so were the engineers. We were actually going to have to work, but we were in no shape to pull it together and I was the bull’s eye the hated bearer of bad news. I told Ruth and she filled up my glass, I declined and she pouted. She said something to the effect that if I wasn’t a team player then I should find another team. I drank. We weren’t able to fix the problem until around five am the next morning. My wife was upset, I was exhausted and cranky and Ruth didn’t even make it in the next day.

That’s when I did the unthinkable. I carefully composed a well thought e-mail to the CEO of the company, explaining in detail how an unsustainable culture of imbibing had developed amongst the Thursday night crew, and was threatening the quality of our product. I guess I hadn’t learned that grade school rule of not tattling on your peers. The CEO promptly told my boss, who in turn promptly called me into her office and poured two shots on the table. It was Monday morning around ten o’clock with a full week of harassment staring me down. Ruth, then tugged on her right earlobe and said “do you know what that means?” I didn’t say anything. “It means drink you little fucker!” I smiled, I had been trumped. I downed the shot of sweet syrupy liquor that I found cheap and distasteful. After I put the glass down, she smiled and then tugged her right ear lobe a second time. Obediently, I complied with her request and downed the other shot. Never again would I tattle.

That next Tuesday my wife proposed that we fast in order to clean out our digestive tracts. I casually agreed not really considering the consequences and by Thursday I was starving. I just had to make it through the night without eating anything. So, I just drank more. I don’t really remember much of the drunken stupor of the evening, but the next morning after a large breakfast of cereal, coffee and fruit, I had a very satisfying bowel movement. When I stood up to finish the process and flush the toilet, I saw a curiousity that I needed to investigate, a giant udon noodle wrapped around my discolored turd. At first I wasn’t sure what it was, so I went to the kitchen and grabbed a pair of ornamental chop sticks. I returned to the bathroom and lowered the chopsticks to the toilet rim as if it was a plate of yaki soba. I tugged on the end of the noodle, suspending the turd above water for a brief second before the noodle slipped and back into the toilet everything splashed. How in the world did a noodle remain undigested and whole all the way through my stomach, upper and lower intestine?

Then the realization hit. It wasn’t a noodle, it was a worm. I had worms. I pulled up my shirt and stared at my belly button expecting a worm to poke through the skin surface any second. I screamed, I danced and then I frantically called my father who at the time worked as an office manager of a small town medical clinic. Hearing my story in frantic half sentences, he called down the hall to a Pakistani endocrinologist. The doctor laughed and said that why shouldn’t white Americans get worms, everyone in Pakistan gets them. He then instructed me – my father diligently repeating his words over the phone - to put the worm in Tupperware and take it immediately to the doctor’s office.

I grabbed a plastic sandwich container from under the sink and returned to finish the task. After retrieving the worm, I called the doctor and scheduled an appointment for that afternoon. I then headed to work with not one Tupperware container, but two, one for my peanut butter and jelly, the other for my very special pet worm. At work, I managed to show at least twenty of my peers in the first half hour. Some were disgusted, others intrigued, everyone was interested in the fast and many started fasting that day to clear their digestive tracts of any visitors like mine.

Two o’clock came and worm in hand I went to the doctor’s office. The doctor, a young guy fresh from a sabbatical in South America, asked me if I had been traveling, eyeing the worm. I answered yes, mentioning my honeymoon in Roatan Honduras. He left the room to consult with a colleague returning a little while later. Well, this variety of parasite isn’t in the states, so you probably picked it up on your trip south. He prescribed a single pill, explaining that it would shock the colony members’ nervous systems. My own system was in for a shock as I had no idea there could be a colony living in me. After being excused, the prescription safely in my pocket, I went to the bathroom, cupped a handful of water and splashed my face before returning to the office waiting room. Next morning with my daily B.M. out came the colony. My stool looked like a tan candy cane, stripped with white swirls of Honduran parasites. Maybe I shouldn’t have put my name on that list after all, but it was too late. Two weeks later, we were on a plane to San Pedro Sula, Roatan. We then traveled by bus from San Pedro to La Ceiba, boarding the ferry for Roatan the next morning. All of our belongings were in boxes in my in-laws’ basement.


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