The Poopetrator

by Peggy Hoffman

On the last Sunday of the every month, we hold a belly dance performance in Minás Gallery, our art gallery/boutique. This particular performance went as planned. When the performance was over, we closed the gallery and went home.

Shortly after arriving at home, we got a call from the police. Apparently, one of the spectators had been in our bathroom pooping for so long that the event had ended, we had cleaned up, put the chairs away, locked up the store, set the alarm, and gone home.

When the finally lady emerged from the bathroom, she set off the burglar alarm. She immediately called the police, identifying herself as the Poopetrator. We had to go unlock the store and let her out.

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Kill the messenger

One day at my school in Georgia during PE we were playing flag football on the football field, and a boy that no one (literally no one) liked named Jacob went out on the field, lowered his pants, squatted, and deposited a warm poop onto the freshly mowed football field. He stood up, raised his pants, took his HAND, and picked up said freshly baked turd. He then walked with it in hand to the nearest sideline trash can and threw away his shameful wrongdoing. The PE coach quickly but loudly told him he was being sent home for the day; he burst into tears for the fear that his parents would uncover his dirty secret.

Jacob and I were not only classmates, but we also belonged to the same church youth group. After I witnessed the unsightly event, I felt the need to share my horror with the other members of the group. However, some of the other kids told Justin’s parents that I’d fabricated this unchristian and unbelievable story – his parents were still oblivious to all of it. Within hours both of his parents showed up at the main office screaming and throwing things because their innocent baby was being bullied by a little girl. I was later forced to make a brutally awkward public apology for “weaving this tale of lies,” and Jacob gave me a dead stare and said nothing –  even though I’d just covered his behind by convincing every adult that I’d made up that true story, which also happened to be telling a lie in church. To this day no one’s entirely sure if the bathroom was locked, the line was too long, or there was some wager lost. There was also a quiet rumor that he may have been protesting the fields fertilizer. Or maybe he’s just that crazy.

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And this is why you should never wear khakis

by Patrik Moss Satta-Fleming 

It was 1986 and the latest rage in beautiful Dundalk, Maryland, was PHOTON, an early incarnation of laser tag: smoke machines, flashing lights, ramps, tunnels, and even an computer-automated female voice that announced the commencement and conclusion of the game. This place was awesome!

I was 16 and just had gotten my driver’s license. My sister Amy is 19 months younger, and the fact that I drove gave us both an enormous amount of freedom. Our best friend Scott (two years younger than me) also reaped the benefits of our new-found mobility.

It was a Friday evening in the early fall and the three of us were going to PHOTON. Having gone several times before, we all had our PHOTON ID cards (required for play) and money to burn. My sister and I drove around the corner and picked up Scott and we were off. The facility was about five miles or so from our house, and it typically took about 15 minutes to get there.

We were on our way when I felt a rumbling down below. Then another. Glump…gurgle…errrrk…glump. We were about seven minutes from PHOTON when I decided to relieve what I perceived to be a large amount of gas. Nonchalantly, I lifted to one side and did my best to be discreet, that’s when all hell broke loose in my pants.

Unbeknownst to Scott and my sister, I had just done a very successful job of pooping myself. It burned and I felt it begin to saturate my underpants. Panic set in: Mom and Dad’s new car with velour seats! What was I to do? An idea came to mind – I could just turn in to BRADLEY’S department store at the next light. I made the announcement, “Hey guys, I need to run to BRADLEY’S for a second…I want to look for a new cassette tape.” This idea was met with immediate opposition. “What? Now? Why now? No! Let’s go to PHOTON before it gets to crowded,” Amy commanded.

I submitted and kept driving.

Not 30 seconds later it occurred to me that I could fake forgetting my PHOTON card and would need to go home. I made my announcement…disgruntled and irritated, my passengers conceded, and I turned the car around and proceeded home.

Once I pulled up in front of our house, I hopped out of the car and waddled in. It was getting dark so I was certain they would not see any evidence of my dirty deed through the seat of my pants.

I threw the front door open and announced to my parents, “I pooped my pants and have to shower and change…don’t tell Amy and Scott!” And with that, I dashed into the bathroom.

I began peeling off my khaki pants and soiled underwear – it was WAY worse than I thought. EEEEWWWWwwwww. I jumped into the shower, working feverishly to clean myself up before Amy and Scott (waiting in the car) suspected anything. This was no small task. The 10-minute shower lasted for what felt like a lifetime. Finally, I was clean!

I hurried out of the tub, dried off, bundled the evidence up in an old towel, wrapped a fresh, new towel around my waist and walked out of the bathroom. If I could get upstairs and get dressed quickly, I could still pull this off without Amy and Scott suspecting anything, or heaven forbid, finding out! – a fate WORSE than death.

As I walked through hallway on my way to my bedroom upstairs, Amy walked in the front door. I stopped and froze as we locked eyes. The look that crossed her face was priceless…shock, anger, frustration, confusion. I softly offered an explanation, “I pooped my pants in the car, DON’T TELL SCOTT!”

She busted out laughing, turned on her heels and proceeded out to the car.

After getting dressed and collecting what little dignity I had left, I took a deep breath and proceeded out to the car.

The car was silent, Amy and Scott looked straight ahead with expressionless faces, then the giggling started – followed soon by full out hysteria.

Scott, trying unsuccessfully to control his laughter, managed to ask, “Did you get your PHOTON card?”

“Thanks Amy!”

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Animal House

In college, I was driving in my big Caddy on my way to class one summer, and I got hit with a real need to go. I didn’t think I would make it to the classroom building in time, so I pulled off and went to my frat house. Nobody was around, and at this point I thought I was going to die. I rushed into the house and up the stairs to the bathroom. Everything was gone. The bath was being renovated. I looked around desperately, and there was no bucket. Not even a trashcan. I ran to a room at the back of the house on the second floor and stuck my ass out the window and let it all out. Not sure if any saw me, but they would have been ruined for life if they had.

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The Guardian of the Gate

by Guy Petzall

Bolivia, November 1994

During the past few days, I’ve been visited by that all-too-common traveler’s companion, intestinal bacteria — you know, the ones that turn otherwise perfectly healthy stool into noxious, primordial ooze. The little scoundrels are everywhere, in the vegetables, the water, and everyone I know down here has, at one time or another, gotten got. It is easy to throw blame around, to cast aspersion upon that suspicious pasta salad, or perhaps it was the ice cream (I thought it tasted a little funny), but to do so is of no use. The bug is, sooner or later, without fail or evitability, sure to arrive and nest in your bowel. And the cure is simple, really. Just go into any pharmacy, make a sad face, and pat your belly, and they’ll take care of you right quick, usually selling you an unlabeled antibiotic of questionable origin, but which works nonetheless. And, I suppose, in a very general way, the advent of antibiotic pharmacology is the hero in this instance. But, from a more personal aspect, I revere a hero which is in my view far greater, far stronger, and far worthier of praise. For while antibiotics may be capable of killing the little buggers in my bowel on a strictly cell-by-cell basis (and believe me, I’m taking my pills), my hero accomplishes a much greater feat; my hero controls the whole of the problem; my hero is capable of stemming the black tide for unbelievable quantities of time. I speak of none other that the mighty sphincter, guardian of the gate, keeper of the peace.

My first hint that all was not strictly firm in the nether organs came in that proverbial and much recounted of situations, the beginning of an 18-hour bus ride from La Paz, Bolivia to Santa Cruz, a city of 800,000 across the Andes and down into the Amazon Basin, a journey from high altitude to low, from brilliantly cold to blazingly hot. And, like ice melting in the sun, I could feel the once firmly established material in my intestines begin increasingly to gurgle about, assuming a more and more liquid form. Great. I began to rationally assess my circumstances. The bus, as they say, no tiene baño. Two stops were scheduled, six hours apart, but already, only 45 minutes into the trip, I could feel the internal pressure mounting. Pressure to expel. To bow to it would have been catastrophic. So, with no other recourse, I simply resolved to batten down the hatch, clinch up real tight, and wait. The pain was spectacular. Like the tides of the river Styx, it ebbed and resurged cyclically, as the assorted fluids and gasses rearranged themselves in my gut. BUT — my anus held true. Its ringed clamp, in accordance with my determined will, braved the no doubt tempestuous storm within without so much as a pucker, and the first leg of the trip, although no joy, remained leak-free.

Finally we arrived at Cochabamba, our first scheduled stop. With a one-hour hiatus before the continuation of our journey, I headed for the bus station bathroom. 50 centavos. 10 cents U.S., and ten of the best cents I ever shelled out. If only they had known what they could have charged me, I’d be a poor man today. I entered the stall, placed my feet on the designated footprints, and, squatting into position, muttered quietly, “OK, my friend, time to open up.” I was actually speaking to my butt-hole — and politely, because I knew that my happiness depended upon its future cooperation. And, like the obedient little muscle that it is, or perhaps more like an iris widening to accept the light in a dim situation, it opened, and unleashed the waters of hell which it had kept so successfully at bay.

I shall refrain from the fullest description of the fiery carnage which ensued, in complete audiolfactory Sensurround™, for the next half-hour or thereabouts. Just trust me, it was truly something to behold, and 10 cents shouldn’t have been able to even begin to cover it, regardless of what country I was in. It was spectacular, but eventually I had to once again restrain myself and return to the bus.

The second part of the trip went off much like the first, except that my anus, having acquired my thorough respect during the initial portion of the journey, seemed to want to expand — not its aperture, so much, as its range of sensitivity. It seemed to feel itself capable of distinguishing between the varieties of that which it was incarcerating, and I let it, allowing it to release only the gaseous inmates from its pestilential prison. I trusted my friend my anus, it was worthy of my faith, and as a result the remainder of the drive to Santa Cruz became so much more bearable.

And now that I have turned the problem over to the products of medical science, I feel the need to commemorate my faithful friend and trusted ally, to acknowledge its loyal service and unwavering tenacity in the face of grave adversity. If I could, I’d throw it a party or something, because I still have a few weeks left in South America, and you never know where those pesky bacteria are lurking, waiting for the chance to spring again. But when they do, I’ll be ready. In this regard, I am not traveling alone. I have a friend. Hail Sphincter!

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Not my job description: a triptych

I.

When I was 14 and working in a restaurant, someone laid, seriously, a two-foot coil in the loo. So us kids stared at each other dumbly, all grossed out, and asked the head cook what to do. He walked in with the knife he was using to chop green peppers and sliced the log up, then went back to the peppers with the same knife.

***

II.

A woman came into the emergency room saying that she was having a baby. Turns out she gave birth to a HUGE poop that had to be broken up with a tongue depressor before it could be flushed.

***

III.

It was a Saturday. I was the only one working. Earlier that week I had a case of the runs but it had cleared up by Saturday. Or so I thought. I had some gas and because no one else was in the office, I was free to let it rip.

Saturdays were quite slow but I was on a call when another gas pain hit, so I let that one go also. Only it wasn’t just gas. It was a blow out. Well, it could’ve been worse because even though I was talking to someone, I realized I had to do some damage control and held back what I could.

Within a couple seconds I told the client I’d have to call him back, that there was an emergency, and I asked for his number. I sat there wondering what to do. The bathroom was three hallways away, and I was, well, squishy. I was worried I’d run into someone and be forced into a conversation. I thought about closing up for the day but that would require a long, moist trip to the parking lot.

After deciding I couldn’t clean up at my desk, I glided to the bathroom as quickly and motionlessly as I could.

I cleaned myself up using toilet paper and toilet water. A pair of poopy underwear was stashed in the hygienic products bin that day, wrapped in about half a roll of toilet paper.

Got back to the desk, called the customer back, and finished out my shift.

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Baby Krakatoa

by Eli Stratus

My daughter was about 15 months old. In the middle of the night, she woke me up, fussing because she had pooped. In my sleep-deprived daze, I went to change her diaper. I took her out of her crib and put her on the changing table. That’s when I noticed that this was no ordinary poop; this was a poop explosion. The poop had leaked out of the diaper, and it was all over her pajamas and the changing table. I had poop all over my arms, too. She was going to need a bath.

As any parent will tell you, we are trained not to leave a child on the changing table, but I needed help. I put her on the floor to wake my husband, Fred, to help me.

She promptly pooped again on the carpet.

20 minutes later, we were all cleaned up. The washing machine was taking care of the sheets and changing table cover. The carpet, on the other hand, was nasty.

It was only a cheapo remnant, easier to replace than clean. I rolled it up, poop and all, and took it to the curb. Just before we drifted off to sleep, Fred said he didn’t think the trash truck would take it. Trash day was that morning.

When I woke up, Fred told me we didn’t need to worry if the trash truck would pick it up. Someone drove by in the middle of the night and took the carpet.

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The Ballad of Phin, Little Nancy, and Walt, or The Importance of Being Regular

by Walter Bjorkman

19 seventy and somethin’ early, Phin rode into town
Walt was doin’ somethin’ crazy, but couldn’t let his friends down

Phin and Little Nancy came by for a stay
Barely room for himself in his pantry bedroom – no way

With no room for Walt’s Brooklyn friends at the inn
Nacimiento woods their only away in a manger option

Walt can’t remember how they got there or back to the stoop
But here is this inspirational story’s poop:

Pitched tent in a cathedral of three redwoods with no sway
With a natural bed of pine needles and an inviting portway
Then cooked up somethin’ like beans in a pot
What was it they downed before, during and after? – we forgot

Boy Scout training kicked in in the back of his mind
25 yards at least from camp to do your after-meal slime
No Scott’s tissue to mar the pristine land
Just use nature’s tools – a leaf, whatever’s at hand

Sunset coming upon them like a fog
Walt did it sitting over a log

Then down to the riverbank on this starry starry night
Phin, Little Nancy, and Walt, with no fright
No moon was there to block the view
Of distant galaxies and constellations running askew

Heads gazing up and tripping out
Minds realizing there is nothing about which to pout

Time to get back into their sheltered haven
They turned into the total blackness of the forest’s heaven
For minutes that seemed hours they were lost from their mission
What to do? they couldn’t even see each other’s visage

“I have twelve strike-anywheres!” Walt exclaimed with delight
“We will go our ways through the underbrush and yell to each other of our plight
Then light one up to show position and help the others look
We will find it sooner or later” – it was only a short jaunt from the brook

Desperation set in as the matches did dwindle
Were they doomed to sleep in a huddle and get swindled
By the biting insects and snakes of this legendary land?
Please, some divine inspiration come down and give this threesome a hand

Further apart they roamed to find the tent
Things were getting crucial, frustrations no longer pent
When all of a sudden instead of briars and brush
In which his bare feet got entangled, in his slow rush

A soft-slimy pile enveloped Walt’s toes
Like a vision from heaven, his mind got the news
“Yo! Phin, Yo! Little Nancy, Walt know just where we be!
Walt is where Walt went when Walt had to do more than pee”

“The safe-haven is just twenty five yards yonder
Use your last matches to not wander asunder”

They all reached camp and tumbled into their tent
Then related to each other about where they all went

So in the end it is not about why you got to where
But to have faith in yourself – your own shit will get you there.

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Mexico City Blues

by Ben Tanzer

We were in Mexico because of my mother. It was her idea to take Adam and me south of the border. Her vision was that we would see the great artists of Mexico City—Rivera, Orozco, Siqueiros, and Kahlo—and then hit the beach in Cancún. But things started going wrong and, on our third night in Mexico, a country where everyone actively discourages you from drinking the water, we all decided to order shrimp scampi.

I can’t remember what the meal tasted like; I can tell you however what happened the next day at the airport as we prepared to catch our flight from Mexico City to Cancún. It started with Adam saying he had to go to the bathroom. We waited, and waited, but as the minutes passed it began to seem less and less likely that he would return, and at some point I went to look for him. The bathroom was dark and quiet, and Adam was nowhere in sight.

I walked up to the row of stalls and called out his name.

“Adam, you still in here?”

“I’m over here,” Adam said, sounding like a junkie looking for his next hit.

“Hey man, what’s going on?” I said as I worked my way to his stall.

“I have diarrhea,” he said, “I didn’t make it all the way to the toilet.”

“Shit,” I said, my expletive matching the mood, “are you okay?”

“I need another pair of shorts,” he said, “and I need them now. Some guy has been pounding on the door and screaming at me in Spanish.”

I ran out of the bathroom and sprinted to the nearest newsstand. They had no shorts. Nor were there any at the duty-free shop. I wandered the terminal; no shorts were to be found. This was not the airport of today, mini-malls full of Starbucks and Benetton stores, massage tables and Polo golf shops. This was pre-globalization, and it was an entirely different time and place. The first George Bush was in office, MTV actually showed music videos, and Barry Bonds was still a string bean hitting no more than 30 homeruns a year for the Pirates. This airport had the basics—the International Herald Tribune, cheap rum and imported cigars—and that was it.

I walked up to a young traveler type, one of those guys you see at every airport. They have one backpack on their back where it belongs and another on their chest, where it does not. They’re wearing dirty, faded Columbia shorts and scuffed leather sandals of indiscriminate origin. They have a scruffy, not-quite adult beard and disheveled near Jew-fro hair. Their t-shirt has some obscure reference to Machu Picchu or some island, somewhere, where people drink hallucinogenic tea before dancing all night beneath a full moon.

The guy can be from anywhere, but he tends to be from Australia, doing that walkabout thing they do.

“Hey dude, excuse me,” I say.

“Yeah mate, he says.

Bam, called that.

“My brother had some bad shrimp,” I say, a little panicked, “and he didn’t quite make it to the bathroom, and now he needs some shorts, and I’m hoping you might be willing to sell me a pair.”

I want to be cool, but I’m not—I’m desperate. If this guy won’t help me, we’re fucked, it’s that simple.

“Sure man, no problem,” he says, smiling, “you can have them for free.”

I want to hug him, but that seems too personal—plus how am I going to get around his front pack? Still, I want to do or say something.

“You rock brother,” I say, “and that Pat Cash, cool dude, handsome too.”

“Right,” he says turning away, “good luck with everything.”

I dash back to the bathroom and pass Adam the shorts under the door. He’s gaunt and ragged when he finally comes out but feels fine by the time we get on the plane. My mom though can’t say the same.

“I’m feeling very sick,” she tells me as we take off.

“Let’s see if they have some Alka-Seltzer,” I say.

“No,” she says, “that won’t help.”

This response is expected. My parents don’t believe that medicine is ever helpful, they won’t take anything, and for years all we have had kicking around the medicine chest is an ancient, unused bottle of aspirin and a home colonic that no one has ever opened. I think this has something to do with showing weakness and an aversion to products and brands and anything corporate, though mostly they don’t like being told what to do, and the act of taking medicine somehow acknowledges that someone, somewhere, off behind a curtain is doing just that.

I stop the flight attendant, who then brings my mother the Alka-Selzer.

My mother drinks the Alka-Seltzer.

“Wow, that’s incredible, it really works,” she says.

The Alka-Seltzer incident becomes our touchstone for every discussion on over-the-counter medicine from that point forward.

After we land I become so sick that, after making myself vomit for an entire afternoon, I am forced to lie in bed for two days. I watch Mexican soap operas, drink bottled water, and while I should be dreaming of bland foods like white rice and toast, comfort foods, we didn’t do that when I was growing up; we didn’t follow rules, we dreamed what we dreamed, and so I dream of chicken fajitas.

I do get healthy though, and outside of the moment days later when we actually have to question whether or not Adam was dead, the trip was really quite lovely.

I should pause here to say that we thought Adam had drowned while jogging on the beach when the tide had come in but he hadn’t returned.

My mother, at this point healthy herself, sunburned and lovely, her hair still all black and long, was convinced that Adam was dead.

“What am I going to tell dad,” she said over and over again.

I didn’t want to believe Adam had drowned, but when the hotel finally said they would look into sending out a helicopter to search for him I started to wonder.

Moments later when he walked in barefoot and tired after getting lost and being forced to walk back to the hotel along the highway, I realized just how terrified I had been.

I also realized that it might be time to go home. Which we did, at this point smiling and full of love, the good memories far outweighing the stomach problems and near drownings.

At least that’s how I remember it. Memory is a funny thing, and I wonder if Adam remembers the trip the same way I do. I e-mail him the draft and ask him for his thoughts.

He replies immediately.

Dear Ben,

Your memory of the story is actually a bit more sanitary, pardon the pun, than what I remember. My memory of this story is that you, Mom, and I went to the airport and we divided up the jobs. You had to do one job, mom had to do a second job and the third job was that I was going to wait in line for all of us to check in.

Quite a long line in a hot and crowded airport, I might add. As I was waiting in line recognizing that I was doing a job that would not only affect my travels but yours and Mom’s as well, I felt quite nauseous and had a strong sense that I had to use the bathroom. I said to myself that for me to get out of line and then for you and Mom to come back from your jobs and for us to have to start at the back of the line again was just not acceptable. We might lose our flight. So I waited for what seemed like an eternity, probably only about five minutes, until I felt a variety of explosions racing through my body.

Not knowing what to do or where I was in the airport, I raced outside, where I vomited…and had diarrhea simultaneously, painting the Mexican sidewalk a variety of colors, but everybody around me seemed to not be phased at all. I raced to the bathroom. And from that point your story is the same as my memory.

Perhaps it is my recognition that I will not become famous in any other way, or perhaps it’s my hours of watching the Jerry Springer show, but either way reading this story does not embarrass me. I need to run, nature’s calling.

Adam

There is much I can say here, about memory, and diarrhea of course, but I think it’s most important to note that this is something we shared, and it is now an ingrained piece of family folklore, like your first words or the night you were caught with a half-naked girl in your room. We didn’t do over-the-counter medicines or bland foods, we didn’t have rules, we were rarely careful as children, or necessarily even cared for all of the time, but we had love, lots of it, and adventure, and we now have stories, many, and a shared history we all revel in.

And who wouldn’t kill for all that, despite the trade-offs? No one I know.

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The Tyrant and the Toilet

by Donatella von Tchitz

Let me start by saying that if you put a frog in a pan of boiling water it will jump straight out and look at you in horror. If you put a frog in cold water and slowly bring it to the boil, it will acclimate and gradually boil to death.

My hideous controlling husband had rules about everything. In the beginning I would resist if I disagreed with the rule, but soon realized that, actually, the repercussions were so great that just going along with the current regime (whatever that entailed that particular day) was easier than fighting it, especially once the kids came along. Anything for a quiet life. The water began to get warmer.

One of his rules was to do with hygiene. I turned the shower on incorrectly, he stated, and taught me how to do it properly. Sometimes when he wasn’t watching I would do it “my way” but generally I just toed the line, it was easier. One day I pooped, and some time afterwards, he came out of the loo furious. Had I pooped? he demanded. “Yes…” I said warily not sure where this was going. He was outraged! What was I thinking! How disgusting I was! He was married to a total slut (and not in a good way)! Of course I must always poop before having my shower in the morning and not after or I would walk around all day in effect covered in shit! Potentially to go to bed with him at night and smear him and our sheets with my feces! How selfish! How vile I was. What was I thinking! In fact, was I thinking at all!??? (and he proceeded not to speak to me for some weeks afterwards)

So, rather than run the risk of being shouted at again or ignored for weeks at a time, I dutifully only pooped in the mornings before my shower… it took a while, but I eventually trained my bowels to behave. Occasionally I would be unable to control them and for fear of being discovered would slip around to a neighbor and have a shifty shit in her bog to save possible detection in defiling my own. She was unquestioning and kind and made me a cup of tea and we would take advantage of the chance to have a catch up.

I never really thought about it again until twelve years later when my horrid ex and I divorced and I was dating a lovely man who mentioned an afternoon poop he had had. “An afternoon Poop!” I said astonished, “an illegal poop!?” I was fascinated… and he admitted it! He almost seemed nonplussed by the fact! Good heavens! What sort of mad rebel was I dating! And whilst I smiled at his recklessness admiringly, he gently asked me what I was talking about. When I naturally referred to the fact that only the most disgusting of creatures poop after they shower, he very kindly explained that pooping whenever you need to is pretty much a human right and that I had been living under a very shitty dictator, that I should feel free to poop with abandon whenever I wanted from now on. I was astonished and embarrassed and shocked at how I had unquestioningly (although gradually, over time…) had the shit scared out of me. To this day I still feel a little bit furtive and naughty when I have an illegal poop. But I am no longer in hot water…. I am a free frog.

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