Something fascinating happens when people learn that I have Crohn’s disease. They tell me their shit stories. It is some of the funniest shit you’ve ever heard.

I have several stories of my own. My favorite (if there can be such a thing) occurred in Reims, France, in 2006. My niece Kira and I parked the rental car, toured the cathedral, and ate lunch.

Tammy at Reims

Reims, France

I incorrectly believed that the champagne cellars – previous Roman limestone quarries filled with bubbly from the venerable Champagne region of France – were within walking distance. So many of the greats are there – Veuve Clicquot, Piper-Heidsick, Taittinger, and Pommery, just to name a few. We began our trek.

Those of you with irritable bowel disease can commiserate about the 20-minute interval following a meal. Basically, for the uninitiated, you really gotta go approximately 20 minutes after eating.

It had been about 30 minutes since lunch. Kira and I kept walking … and walking. We were in a rather industrial area, with warehouses, chain link fences, and busy intersections. There was no comfort in sight. My stomach was pitching and rolling and making hunger noises, but I knew better. Off to the left I spied a tiny, ancient church with people queued for entry. Sanctuary took on a whole new meaning. I stood in line, shifting my weight from one foot to the other, not-so-patiently waiting to reach the woman at the little table. After a bit of pantomime tinged with desperation, I was informed there was no toilette.

I began power walking. Then I was jogging. Kira was bringing up the rear. In the distance I saw civilization – a beautiful old edifice that must have once been a private estate, but now appeared to be an (equally private) corporate office.  “Mumm” (Champagne house since 1827; supplier of Champagne to the British crown since 1904) was emblazoned across the decorative black ironwork. Sedans and Mercedes Sprinter vans lined the front.   The gate was open!

The frontal approach through the French (of course!) doors was too risky; I was sure to encounter a reception desk, I didn’t speak the language, and I had no time to explain. Someone exited from a side door on the right side of the building. Kira was still in the driveway as I sprinted forward, stuck my foot in the door, and made my way into the inner sanctum.

The door faced the reception desk, albeit some distance down the hallway. Curious women peered down the hall, uttering a quizzical “Bon Jour?” I ignored them completely. My eyes darted left and right, frantically searching for the tell-tale sign of a toilet, a toilette, a WC, a holy hole in the floor!

A room on the right caught my eye. It looked like it could be a bathroom, though unmarked. As I entered I encountered serene blue and white subway tile, a huge vase of fresh flowers on the counter, a single toilet and a single urinal.

Ladies and gentlemen, I was in an Executive Washroom, and the executive was apparently male.

The room had an adjoining door.  I made sure it was locked.

Use your imagination for this part.

As I exited the washroom, a very well-dressed gentleman emerged from the adjoining room, looking quizzically in the direction of the washroom. My suspicion is that the adjoining wall was paper thin – thinner than the paper I had just used.

(If you haven’t been keeping up, I am fairly sure I took an explosive dump in the private bathroom of the CEO or CFO or C-something-O of Mumm Champagne.)

To Be Continued