When I was 15 I pooed my pants at school. I was in a drama class in the main assembly hall. We were sat in a circle, discussing Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Suddenly, without any prior warning, I felt my gut rumble, then wrench. It emitted a high-pitched whine followed by a loud galloping noise. I felt something in my underpants. When I realised what was happening I clenched my arse to stem the impending tide then leapt to my feet and strode hurriedly out of the hall.
I kept walking straight out of the school gates and towards the new Pizza Express on the high street. The toilets would be nice there. Clean and comfortable. Yes, there were toilets inside the school I could have used. But such was the derelict, unsanitary condition of inner-city comprehensive toilets in the late Eighties (thank you Maggie) using one of those was out of the question. When I got to Pizza Express, my arse about to explode, I pretended to be a paying customer by ordering a Coke then heading straight to the toilet. I made the cubicle seconds too late. As my pants were halfway down, my backside erupted all over the gleaming tiles. I hurriedly wiped things up as best I could, tied my jacket around my waist to hide the stains that ran down the back of my trousers, then made a bolt for it.
Out in the street, I bumped into my ex-girlfriend and her best mate who were taking their lunch break. I tried to play it cool until one of them asked if I could smell something weird. At that very moment, the number 33 bus pulled up in front of us and, without explanation, I jumped on and rode off into the distance. When I got home I called my mum at work and told her I’d skipped school for the afternoon. “Why?” She asked. “Because I shat my pants.” I answered. “Oh,” she said. “It must have been that curried mince I made last night.”
As my pants were halfway down, my backside erupted all over the gleaming tiles
She was right. She called the school and made something up to explain my absence. I’ve never quite recovered from that fateful afternoon in 1989. I’ve basically been suffering from PTSD ever since.
Which is why series two of American Vandal, the superb mockumentary series from Netflix, speaks to me on such a deep level. It forensically investigates a mass pants-shitting incident in a high school [after being poisoned by a mystery perpetrator whose calling card refers to themselves as ‘The Turd Burglar’].
Juvenile? No. This is an important portrayal of a serious issue that has affected the lives of ordinary people all over the world. People who, until now, have been silent and stigmatised. I know, because I’m one of them.
Please watch this show.
American Vandal is available on Netflix