I like to collect pooping horror stories in the way I like to collect friends: abundantly, and without assessing if they're actually good for me or contribute anything to my life. I've listened to many poo stories in my life, and I'll continue to push harder until I find that ultimate tale: the golden nugget, the poop story to end all poop stories.
So here's one brown-plated gem, first reported by the BBC. In Bristol, England, a first date went disastrously wrong after a girl panicked, threw an unflushable poo out of the window, then got trapped upside down trying to retrieve it by climbing out of said window.
The case came to light after 24-year-old student Liam Smyth, her date, shared his story online while crowdfunding to replace a window that was broken during the ordeal.
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The girl, who has not been named, was in Smyth's house after a successful date at a local restaurant. When her poop wouldn't flush—a clear-eyed horror that all of us, if we're being honest with ourselves, know well—she threw it out of his bathroom window, where it became trapped between an internal and external layer of glass like a flower pressed between the pages of a book.
"It was a panic response and within seconds I knew I'd made a terrible mistake," she wrote in Facebook comments reported by The Sun. "I would have left, but I just couldn't do that to him."
Shakespeare wrote, "cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once," but I say: Shakespeare lacked imagination. Only the truly valiant would admit to trapping a shit in a window on a first date. Death seems easier, if we're being honest.
"It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to say," she wrote. "I swear I was literally on my knees cringing and apologizing. He was so good about it though, just laughed with me rather than at me."
Being an amateur gymnast, she was convinced that she could reach into the window and "pull the poo out," Smyth explained on his funding page. "Unfortunately she couldn't reach. She climbed further in and had the same problem. She called out to me to help her climb out from the window, I grabbed her waist and I pulled. But she was stuck."
Once he composed himself—and took an obligatory photo—Smyth called the fire brigade, who rescued her. But what to do if you find yourself in a similar situation on date night back at his? How best to handle a poo that just won't flush?
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"A way to handle the situation could have been to first cover it up with a small amount of toilet paper," explains etiquette expert Elise McVeigh. "I would then come out of the restroom, and tell the home owner that you are having a hard time flushing the toilet. I would ask if there is a trick to it, or if he has had issues before. If he offered to go in there and look at it, I would stop him and say I would prefer to handle it myself if possible."
When it comes to recalcitrant shits, time can help get rid of the problem. "If the date said he's never had an issue with the toilet, and that he'd have to call a plumber, I'd go back into the bathroom 30 minutes later and try to flush it again, if I did not think that the toilet would overflow.
"At the end of the evening if I did not have success in flushing completely, I would apologize without giving any details, and tell him that if a plumber thought I had something to do with it not flushing, then please send me the bill," she goes on. "Part of good etiquette is acting like something did not happen."
And what happens if the boot's on the other foot? "We are all humans, and we all use the restroom! Situations can happen that are out of our control," agrees manners expert Maryanne Parker. "A good host will have to be understanding about the needs of the visitors. If there are many people in the room the host should take the matter into consideration discretely, without making a big deal about it. This situation should be handled in an adult way."
Also: buy a plunger.