I met Julian at a literary event, met him when the adrenaline rush of being behind a microphone was still buzzing through my body alongside five or six beers.

He told me he liked my writing.

I asked him what he was planning on doing with the rest of his night.

We could have been the perfect one-night stand. We had sex the same night we met, we didn't know each other's last names, we didn't even live in the same city, and we bought our condoms from the 24-hour Walgreens across the street from the 4 am bar we closed down: we seemed destined from the very beginning to be one-and-done, but the next morning we found a way to fuck that up.

We woke up with our arms still around each other, had sex again, fell asleep again, and woke up, again, with our arms still around each other, and just for the hell of it I asked him, "What do you wanna be when you grow up?"

"Can't decide," he said right away, as though he'd been expecting the question. As though it were a typical thing for a twenty-seven-year-old to ask a twenty-nine-year-old. "Either a Muppeteer or a TV writer. What about you?"

I told him that I'd spent the previous summer on tour with my puppet theatre company and that I'd met a woman in Detroit who was a novelist and the artistic director of an immersive theatre company. As if that wasn't cool enough, she had come to my show on what appeared to be a date with someone my age, which is to say, someone at least twenty years younger than her. "I guess I kind of want to be her," I said. Julian laughed and pulled me a little bit closer. I looked up at him, and he looked down at me, and WHAM, just like that: we were in love.

But we were out of time. I had to get to work, and by the time my shift ended he would be on a plane back to New York. The end was inevitable. Or...

"You know," I said, before I could talk myself out of it, "I'm gonna be in New York for a few days in March."

Just for the record, this wasn't even a lie -- I did actually have plans to go to New York. I mean, if I hadn't I would have probably found an excuse to make such plans, but that's beside the point.

Julian smiled. "Let me take you on a date," he said.

And with that our fate was sealed. We were to spend the next three months texting and stalking each other on Facebook and exchanging selfies that had been strategically planned to look spontaneous. Julian told me that he loved my writing and that he wished we'd had more time together and that he felt this connection with me. We started making plans for our date. Big plans. We bought tickets to a motherfucking Broadway show. We agreed to dress up. I started building the date up in my head to be the night that we would talk about in our wedding vows.

I'm not saying that I spent those three months at home virtuously pining for Julian. I continued to slut my way around Chicago, but I'm an excellent multitasker, and I kept Julian at a steady simmer on the back burner the whole time. I kept him in soft focus, kept him set aside as the real thing, the game-changer. All we needed was just to see each other again.

A couple of weeks before I left for New York, I went on a bit of a bender that culminated in me completely blacking out while bar-hopping with my friend Adam. I called Adam the next day to find out if I'd make out with anyone (I hadn't), and I told him that all I remembered of the previous night was standing in the bathroom of a bar at three in the morning, staring at my hazy reflection in the mirror and hearing a tiny voice in my head say, It's time to go home, Emma, there's nothing left for you here.

"Dude," Adam said, "That wasn't a voice in your head, that was me. I said that to you."

I took this as an indication that I should maybe take a break from drinking. I wasn't ready to admit that I had a bit of a, you know, perhaps a little bit of a drinking problem, but at this point, it was abundantly clear that most aspects of my life would work better if I let them dry out a bit. So I didn't drink that day, or the next day, or the day after that. Looking back, I think of this as my first real attempt to quit, and while it outlived everyone's expectations, it didn't last long at all.

When my plane touched down in New York I hadn't had a drop of alcohol in thirteen whole days, which was pretty astonishing. I mean, I felt like I was doing GREAT. In fact, I was doing so well that I figured I should go ahead and reward myself... with alcohol! This was a special occasion! I was gonna go on a fancy date with my the future love of my life! I would totally regret it forever if I didn't allow myself a cocktail or two! I wouldn't go CRAZY, I'd just, you know, drink moderately. That's a thing people do, right? I told myself that I'd have one to three drinks that night, and that was it. Just one to three.

One. Two. Three.

Julian and I met up at a restaurant near his house in Bushwick, and I ordered a beer. We had put too much weight on this date, that much was clear right away. We were both nervous, we kept talking at the same time, talking about nothing, but somewhere near the bottom of my pint glass, we found our flow. That was Drink #1.

We stopped in a bar on the way to Manhattan, and one of my favourite songs was playing, and like a total dork, I decided that this was surely a sign. Julian's hand brushed my knee. My gin and soda was finished before the song was. That was Drink #2.

At the theatre Julian bought us each a bullshit $18 cocktail. Vodka and sugar. Together at last. I wanted to touch him during the show, wanted to put my head on his shoulder, wanted to work up half of the courage that I'd had the night I met him, but I sat still and stared forward and only when I'd sucked down the last of the melted ice did I start to feel like myself, like the person I wanted to be. That was Drink #3.




The show ended, and we ducked into a Mexican restaurant and did a round of tequila shots, Drink #4. Then we did another round of tequila shots, Drink #5, and my hand found his and he led me to a swanky speakeasy where we put away a few artisanal martinis and some drunk bitch told me that I looked like Lena Dunham and I winked at her and said "I am Lena Dunham" and she actually believed me for like all of ten seconds but like fuck Lena Dunham I don't look anything like that broad and anyways that was Drink #6 and Drink #7, and both of those were doubles, then we stumbled into a basement dive that was packed with middle-aged gay men singing show tunes and we both started singing along because we both knew all of the words to the songs because we're both total theater nerds and we have so much in common have I mentioned that?

And somewhere between Drink #8 and Drink #9 I started to whisper to Julian all of the nasty things I wanted him to do to me that night only I might have actually been yelling and not whispering but whatever, fuck it, it was great and he put his hand on my hip and he kissed me hard, one hand on my hip and one hand in my hair and he swung me against the bar which was totally the hottest thing ever but which also unfortunately resulted in Drink #10 getting launched onto the floor which didn't please the bartender who immediately kicked us out but that was fine because we had better places to be anyways, like Julian's bed.

In my fantasy of our date, I figured we'd wake up at noon, have more sex, get brunch, then round out the morning by having sex again. I assumed that this first date would melt into a second date, which would melt into a third, and at a certain point we'd just move in together.

In real life, I woke up to the sound of Julian getting dressed. Zipper zipping, buttons buttoning, shoes lacing. When I finally opened my eyes he was staring down at me with a look of panic and disgust, as though he didn't know who I was or why I was in his bed. He cleared his throat, looked at his phone, and said, "You should probably get going."

Completely missing the fact that he was kicking me out of his apartment, I asked Julian where he wanted to go for brunch.

He shook his head. There would be no brunch.

Suddenly I understood.

The previous night had been so amazing. Or at least, the little bit of it that actually made it into my memory was amazing. Right? I couldn't quite remember. Either way, this wasn't how I thought it was gonna end. This wasn't who I thought Julian was. Everything had been going great, and now he looked like he was gonna cry, and not even in a good way. Being the socialised female that I am, I immediately blamed the entire situation on myself. I backtracked through the evening the best I could, looking for where I may have made a mistake...maybe I had said something terrible and was too drunk to remember. Maybe it had been too soon to ask him to tie me to his bedposts; I don't know, maybe you're supposed to wait until the third date for that sort of thing? Maybe I was too loud or too forward or just too much.

Suddenly I wanted nothing more than to fulfil his request that I leave his apartment, but as I opened the front door, he said: "Wait."

I waited. I waited for him to offer some sort of explanation, to tell me that everything was fine, but instead, incredibly, he said, "I owe you forty dollars."

I had paid for the theatre tickets, but he had paid for most of my drinks, and I'd figured we'd just, you know, call it even. But Julian insisted on paying me back, even though he didn't have any cash. He insisted on walking with me, in brutal silence, to the closest ATM.

The full force of my hangover hit me all at once as soon as we stepped into the bodega. Stale food, burnt coffee, florescent lights. It was too much. I closed my eyes, and when I opened them again, Julian was standing in front of me holding out two twenties. Without the faintest trace of emotion, he said, "Thanks for a fun night." And with that, the transaction of our relationship was over. Anyone watching would have assumed that my pussy was only worth $40.

What about you? he'd asked, what felt like a fucking lifetime ago. What do you wanna be when you grow up?

Maybe not this. Maybe anything other than this.

Julian walked back towards his house, and I took off in the opposite direction as though I had any fucking clue where I was going. But here's the thing: I HAD NO CLUE WHERE I WAS GOING. I had nowhere to be! I was stranded in Brooklyn at ten in the morning wearing a sequined mini dress and reeking of the night before, and it was starting to snow.

I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, waiting for some sort of divine intervention, and oh, FYI: it's a really, really bad idea to go two weeks without drinking and then have ten drinks in one night. I wanted to die. I wanted to just give up and lay down in a gutter and abandon my body and come back as one of those weird ghosts that haunt the subway tunnels. My head was pounding, my ears were ringing, my stomach felt like it was trying to violently escape my body, and I had what I can only describe as a death-fart brewing in my gut. Having already abandoned any notion of pride, I just let the fart loose. And hey, what do you know: it turned out to be more than just a fart.

The worst thing about sharting in the middle of winter is that you have to remove so many layers of clothing before you can even get to your afflicted underwear. The first place I found with a public bathroom was a gluten-free bakery (whats up, Brooklyn!). I had to brace myself against the wall of the tiny, tiny bathroom to remove my boots and my wool sock and both layers of tights. I had obviously been wearing my sexiest lingerie, and take my word for it: there are few things in this world bleaker than a pair of lacy panties stained with actual shit.

I tried to tell myself that things could be worse. I mean, things can always be worse, right? Like, what if the shart had happened two hours earlier? What if I'd sharted in Julian's bed? What if I'd sharted while we were having sex?

Man, you know you're in bad shape when you catch yourself thinking, well at least I can say I didn't poop during sex.

I threw away my underwear, threw up a few times, then took a good long look at myself in the mirror: mascara tears, vomit in the corners of my mouth, hickies on my neck. I remembered the little voice in my head, AKA the voice of my friend Adam, saying, It's time to go home, Emma, there's nothing left for you here.

I bought a muffin on my way out, because the sign on the door said "Restroom for Customers Only," and I'm a good person.

Three weeks after I got back to Chicago, I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook when the most adorable picture of Julian popped up in my newsfeed. The most adorable picture of Julian and his girlfriend. You know, his monogamous girlfriend, the one he'd just forgotten to tell me about? I suddenly found myself wishing that I HAD pooped in that motherfucker's bed.

If only Facebook had some way of alerting people when they'd been unfriended. And not just with a little chime or a push notification, I was thinking it could be like the sound your phone makes when there's a flash flood warning or an amber alert. Or like, Siri could have just yelled, "EMMA HAS UNFRIENDED YOU BECAUSE YOU SUCK SO MUCH JESUS CHRIST JULIAN YOU ARE JUST AWFUL."

A few minutes later I showed up at my friend Adam's house screaming. I told him everything: The buildup, the date, the shart, the girlfriend. Adam made a really admirable attempt to listen without laughing, and as soon as I was done he said, "You should totally write about this."

I looked that motherfucker in the eye and said, "I am never, ever, EVER gonna write about this! I am gonna do everything in my power to forget that any of this ever happened."

But here's the thing: I need this story. Because earlier this year I made another attempt to quit drinking, and this time it stuck longer than thirteen days. As of this week I'm eight months sober, and whenever I'm tempted to drink, all I have to do is visualize myself walking through Brooklyn in the snow at 10 in the morning, reeking of liquor and sex and shit and vomit, with a sequined mini dress, a pounding headache, a broken heart, and a gluten free muffin.

You can read more by Emma Alamo here, but also find her on Etsy and Instagram.