Sunday 1 January 2006 @ 5:15 pm

Sorry I’ve been gone for awhile. Been working on the flick. Let’s just take up like old lovers, as if nary a day’s gone by since our last frolic, and continue sans update for now, shall we?

So I normally get hemorrhoids three or four times a year. It’s never pleasant, natch, but it’s also never crippling. However, close to a month ago now, I had a hem flare-up that felt like I was sporting two or three – which makes shitting, as you can imagine, something of a project and a painful inconvenience. But over the course of the last two weeks, I’ve learned to look back fondly on shitting through hemorrhoids – for I’ve had to learn to shit through…

An anal fissure.

Those of you who are long-time Stern listeners have probably heard the term before, but according to my proctologist, almost 60% of any given collection of one hundred people are familiar with the condition itself, if not the clinical term. An anal fissure is a tear or rip in the sphincter that travels up the colon in varying lengths. I’m guessing mine happened when a hemorrhoid broke during a particularly tough bowel movement (though, after watching “Brokeback Mountain” last night, I can’t imagine how Jake Gylenhall’s character couldn’t not be sporting an anal fissure of his own after his first, spontaneous mountain-top tryst with Heath Ledger’s Ennis Del Mar, when only a palm full of saliva acted as lubricant; fucking ouch), and it’s made my life a living hell ever since.

Those of you who’re regular readers of this site know how much I enjoy shitting. It’s one of my favorite pastimes, really. I normally grab my laptop (or a comic, or a video game) and sit on the bowl for nearly an hour, shitting in the first thirty seconds, and just enjoying the stinky solitude for the rest of that time, with that exhaust fan white noising-out the real world beyond the door. Now, I have to learn to shit and go; get in, drop brown, wipe, and get up and out. According to the doc, it’s a big preventative measure in the battle against hemorrhoids, which in turn will help me win the war against anal fissures. A lifestyle change of this magnitude is akin to stopping smoking; or even breathing. But it’s all coming from a guy who a bigger man-ass authority than (insert your best friend’s name here), so I’m inclined to change me ways.

But how’d I get to the proctologist in the first place? Me – the guy who doesn’t even have a regular GP of his own?

By way of the courts, naturally.

After a year of dodging jury duty notices thanks to valid “I’m in the middle of being in/making a movie” excuses, I finally had to face the music and pay the heavy cost of registering in L.A. to fucking vote in a losing battle against George Bush’s America by showing up for a jury pool at the courthouse downtown. I packed a bag with busy work (a PSP, the VA Christmas card list), and trudged off to do my civic duty, hoping against hope that I wouldn’t be selected to sit beside eleven of my peers and preside over an actual case.

Within minutes of signing up, I was pulled into a department (i.e. court room) for voi dire. The Judge first asked what each prospective juror did for a living. As prospective juror number three, I had a few minutes to figure out what I’d say, and went with simply “Film”, to which the Judge queried “Well that’s a pretty big field. What do you do in film?” Now, as a guy who doesn’t like to talk about what he does for a living in forums outside of the ones where people gather to hear specifically about what I do for a living, I’m never comfortable saying I’m a writer/director. It just feels so showy or braggy, not to mention very unrealistic: where most people have proper jobs, I have a gig in which I’m paid to make pretend for a living. But since the court was asking, and I was already under oath, I ultimately confessed “I write and direct.” The Judge said “Writing and directing. You must be talented,” to which I responded “That depends on who you ask, really.” And then, the voices of what I’d hoped would be my saviors piped up like a choir of angels, as one young woman said “He’s talented”, and was seconded, thirded and fourthed by some other potential jurors. I smiled and nodded thanks, but not for the props; I was thanking them for what I was certain was a sure ticket off the jury: recognition. Could either counsel possibly want someone sitting on their jury who was, even in some small way, in the public eye? Wouldn’t I be bounced for being Bob?

Apparently not. As voi dire continued, other jurors would be excused by opposing counsels, and still, I remained juror number three – largely because I made the mistake of responding to the question “Have you ever hired a lawyer?” with “I’ve got a lawyer on retainer at all times, to handle contracts and deal paperwork.” And then further, to the question “Do you have any biases against lawyers?”, like a jackass who takes that dopey oath about telling the truth to heart, I replied “I love my lawyer.”

That, apparently, sealed my fate – as the case I was to hear was a civil suit between a lawyer and client. But, like Heath Ledger’s cow-poke (pun intended) character in “Brokeback Mountain”, I wasn’t going down without a fight; I wasn’t gonna spit into my palm without one last defensive swing at juror nullification.

The Judge asked “Is there anything you should disclose to either counsel that you feel they should know before they make their final jury selections?” Here was my moment, I thought, and I raised my hand and offered “I’m suffering from some crippling hemorrhoids right now, so I hate everyone.” Surely, I thought, that disclosure would get me bounced; because, really – who wants someone already in a volatile state (both physically and psychologically) deciding the fate of their case?

Apparently both sides, as neither booted me for my hems-confession. And one secondary swearing in later, I was suddenly on a jury.

As a longtime fan of “Law & Order” and courtroom drama in general, let me tell you: legal proceedings are nothing like they’re portrayed on TV or in the movies. Witness examinations aren’t nearly as dramatic as when Jack McCoy is tearing into a killer on the stand, and nobody ever bellows “You can’t handle the truth!” After two days of watching the plaintiff be questioned by her lawyer and then cross-examined by the defense, I was ready to find in favor of neither party, as both were too fucking boring to deserve any monetary judgment. Add to that the fact that I was constantly squirming in my very uncomfortable seat due to what lied beneath, and fuck, was I ready to hang not just the jury, but myself as well.

Then, on day three, something wonderful/horrible happened.

I hadn’t shit that morning, and I’d learned over the course of the past two days that it was only after shitting that sitting in the jury box was so physically hellish. All that morning, I was able to sit in peace and not squirm out of rectal agony, listening to the droning testimony in relative physical peace. However, at the lunch break, I finally had to give in and shit, which re-opened what I’d later learn was an anal fissure, and put me into an intense state of shit-hole torture. Remember that famous scene in “Un Chien Andalou” in which a razor is drawn across an eye? I felt like that, except my eye was brown.

So, in deep pain, I dragged myself back into the court room and asked the bailiff if I could stand, instead of sitting in my seat. I was granted permission, and stood beside the jury box, attempting to listen to more cross-examination, but almost unable to hear anything over the din of my screaming anus (which, by the way, would be the name of any garage band I put together: My Screaming Anus). When there’s something wrong with your asshole, you figure out pretty quickly that the sphincter is like the fulcrum of your whole body, as any move you make is felt there – something you become keenly aware of when any move you make ripples down to your blow-hole and results in spasms of anguish.

Unable to even lean on the jury box without wincing, I ultimately laid down on the floor, hoping that taking the weight off my feet by being prone might lessen the pain. At this point, the Judge puts a stop to the cross-examination and says “Did we lose someone? Juror number three?” I weakly respond “I’m down here, your honor.” Nice guy that he was, the Judge said “I understand you’re having some problems, but I really think it’s important you see the witness’ face as she testifies.” I replied “I’m in such rectal agony right now, I couldn’t care less about seeing the witnesses face, your honor.” When he asked what the court could do for me, I asked for a ten minute break, which he quickly granted.

I dove into the jury deliberation room and climbed onto the plastic couch department stores usually provide in the entrance of the ladies room (presumably for the distaff dealing with menstrual issues), where I laid on my stomach, praying for death. The bailiff checked in on me ten minutes later, at which point I confessed “I can’t go back out there, unless you guys wanna bring this couch-thing into the courtroom for me to lay on. I can’t stand, I can’t sit. The only way I can not be in pain is to lay like this – and even this still hurts.”

So the bailiff asks me to join her in front of the Judge and counsels (the rest of the jury was still on break). As I leaned against the jury box, clutching the railing, cold sweat running down my face, the Judge (who was a really sweet guy) said “It would seem you’re having some problems, Juror number three.” I nodded and said, on the record “I think one of my hemorrhoids broke. I’m bleeding rectally and I feel like someone slid a knife up my ass, your Honor. I’ve never had that done to me before, but it’s what I imagine that’d feel like.”

At that point, I was excused from the case.

To Be Continued.


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