1. Do Your Thang
    As the designated travel agent of your family, plan an aca-awesome vacation to El Salvador, complete with a beautiful beach house. This will be the first family vacation you guys have taken in 15 years. It means coordinating the travel of 10 people, including 3 children, from east and west coasts of the US, placating your tough-to-please brother and working with your eager-to-please sister, and, of course, convincing your parents, who did not split amicably, that this is a great idea.
  2. Fuck Up Everything
    Wake up the morning of your flight and realize that you never got a confirmation from the rental house. Why did it take so long to realize this? 🤔 Call the online rental agency and feel your stomach wring like a wet rag as you get transferred to the fraud department. Hold your head in your hands as the woman tells you that you have been scammed. Lie on the floor (à la Dr. Lahiri) as it sinks in: there is no beautiful house. Your flight leaves in three hours.
  3. Fix Everything
    Furiously search for a new house. Call the unfortunate owners at 6am (did I mention it's Christmas morning?) and beg for them to rent to you, a very sane but panicked traveler. Realize that the owners are still drunk from their Xmas eve party the night before, consider this to be in your favor as they giggle the phone back and forth—and agree to help you out. Everything is wonderful again! Side note, you will now be sharing a room with your divorced parents. NBD.
  4. Night #1
    You and your mom share a bed, your dad gets his own. It's almost like everyone is happy to be together.
  5. Night #2
    Too happy. You walk in on your dad being the little spoon. Turns out he's an unwilling utensil, his relentlessly rational voice asks you to "please remove her." After a bit of coaxing, your mother, that magical drunken mix of drowsy and surprisingly strong, is happy to switch her subject. You stare at the ceiling, the Yoko to your mother's John, cursing your position in this family-of-privilege love triangle.
  6. Night #3
    Be it the handle of vodka or that questionable cóctel de camarones, your mother now spends most of her time in the bathroom. You don't feel guilty about sleeping through her constant trips to the bathroom. You don't even feel guilty about not feeling guilty.
  7. The Morning After
    And your asshole-ness is properly punished. You wake in the morning after a relatively glorious sleep, stretching across the width of the bed. Your hand extends towards your mother's empty side where it meets something terry-clothed and damp. With the half-conscious curiosity of sleep, you raise the towel. It takes a few seconds to register that, yes, that brown spludge is human shit. And, yes, you have been sleeping in it.
  8. Go Home
    Take comfort in the fact that only a special type of person is shit on both metaphorically (for what else is an Internet scam but a steaming pile of digital doodoo?) and literally during the same trip. And then don't think too hard about it anymore.
  9. Post Script
    When a mere month later, you yourself join the elite club of WWPP (Women Who Poop Pants) while traveling in Cuba, you will feel a special kinship to your mother you did not previously think to be possible.