Tag Archives: nudity

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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Man’s best friend

Puppies are just so damn cute. If they weren’t, we would never let them piss on our laps and shit all over our houses.

Sweet Perfect Hazel was an amazing puppy; she was cute, she was obedient, she was calm, she didn’t bark. She was a border collie mutt, attentive and social and smart. She was an A+ dog in all things except Housebreaking. F. A solid, shitty F.

  1. We put down newspaper for her, patting the paper to show her that this is where good doggies go potty. She was so sweet. She’d scamper onto the newspaper, with us saying gopottygopottygopotty, and then she’d go to the edge of the paper, all four paws on the paper, and squat, her little doggie butt hanging over the edge of the paper so she could shit on the floor and not soil the beautiful paper we’d laid out for her.
  2. After she ate, I would take her outside on her leash. We would walk around. I would be super patient, waiting for her to do her business. Nothing. I would sing to her. Nothing. 45 minutes of nothing. I would eventually decide she didn’t have to go, so we’d head back inside. She promptly ran to a corner of the living room carpet and baked a Tootsie Roll. I think she was actually waiting to go inside so she could do her business.
  3. We locked her in the laundry room until she pooped. She’d cry and whimper and howl until we let her out, where she would promptly scamper somewhere exciting in the house and let it fly.
  4. We built a little pen outside, next to the kitchen door, where we could leave her cooped up until she pooped. Minimal success, and then we discovered that she could get out and we were too inept to patch the pen properly.

It was horrible. NOTHING WORKED. Crate training seemed cruel and unusual punishment and slightly unnecessary. My girlfriend and I were both 22; we had bachelor’s degrees but were still at the developmental stage where you get the phone shut off because you forget to pay the bill and it’s easier to just close the office door than clean up dogshit. This is actually quite a brilliant solution. We lived in an enormous house, a four-bedroom summer home on a lake, out in the wilds of central Virginia. The house was so big that if Hazel took a dump somewhere, we could just ignore it. Like the Mad Hatter’s tea party – move on to another room. So we did.

Hazel was an equal opportunity pooper. The house had vinyl flooring in the kitchen and laundry, hardwood in the living room and dining room, slate in the foyer, and wall-to-wall carpet in the bedrooms. She’d poop in all rooms, but she seemed to prefer the wall-to-wall carpeting. In this case, ignoring fresh dog poop makes sense – if you let it dry and harden, it is easier to pick up. I have a terrible gag reflex, finely honed from growing up with two poop-mongering black Labs. Trying to gingerly pick up Sweet Perfect Hazel’s moist poop and not have it smear into the carpet was a nightmare. Way easier to breathe through your mouth and pick it up tomorrow. Or maybe on the weekend. Yeah, that’s better.

I worked days and my girlfriend waited tables at night, so the only time Sweet Perfect Hazel was alone was if I went out at night and left her home. Frequently, I’d come home from work, change out of my suit and into casual clothes, and then take Sweet Perfect Hazel out with me to the restaurant where my girlfriend worked. It was during the summer months, and I’d sit on the restaurant patio having a beer with Hazel on a leash. It was far preferable to being alone out in the woods in a empty old house full of drying dogshit.

One evening I came home from work as usual. Coming in through the kitchen, I heard the phone ringing. I dropped my keys on the kitchen table and looked around – the phone wasn’t where it belonged. In such a huge house, a 1989-era cordless phone could be left anywhere, and finding it was a chore. I started jogging through the house toward the sound of the phone ring. This was pre-cell phone and voicemail; screening calls was unheard of. I picked up my pace, not wanting the caller to hang up. We were not only too lazy to pick up dogshit, but we were also too lazy to get an answering machine.

I ran through the rooms. Dining room – nope. Living room – nope. As I made a sharp left into the slate foyer, I spotted the phone on the bookcase, and I picked up my speed. I was wearing dress shoes, and my left foot hit a patch of something slick on the slate.

That’s when life kicked into slow motion.

My foot went out from under me, forwards, and I was launched into the air in a classic slip-on-a-banana-peel move. Except this wasn’t a banana peel. As I slid, I caught the pungent stench of fresh dog shit in the air, feeling it sliding underfoot, and my gag reflex kicked in. My foot went forward and I went backwards. Assaulted by the smell of dogshit, I vomited. A big, hot, involuntary jet of vomit shot into the air as I fell. I landed on my back, fortunate not to hit my head on the slate, unfortunate to fall onto the pile of dogshit. A spray of vomit landed on my teal 1989 power tie.

Sweet Perfect Hazel ran over to me, lying in the front hall sandwiched between her shit and my vomit, and started licking my face. Good girl.

The phone still rang on the bookcase next to me. I reached up and grabbed it.

“Hello?” I croaked.

“Are you okay?” my girlfriend asked, sixth sense on overdrive.

“Guess where I am,” I whispered.

“What’s going on?”

I explained the situation to her, my voice low to keep control. I thought I might cry. At first she was silent, and then I thought maybe she was crying, too. Soon I realized she was laughing and trying not to. Little high-pressure gasps of merriment pffted through the cordless phone.

“It’s not really very funny,” I said.

“Yes it is,” she shrieked, full on hoots of laughter now.

I was lying on my back on a pile of dogshit, with a puppy licking my vomit off the lapel of my charcoal suit. There was nothing to do but laugh along with her. We finished our conversation, but not until she retold the story to everyone within hearing range at the bar. I clicked off the phone and stood up. I stripped naked in the front hall, dropped my suit and tie and everything in a pile on the slate, and got in the shower. I left the pile of clothes in the foyer. I put Sweet Perfect Hazel on her leash and took her to the bar for a much-needed beer.

It’s worth noting that a year later, when we moved out of that gargantuan house, the landlords kept our entire security deposit. They said the house smelled. We didn’t argue.

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The Runner’s Manifesto

When running on the busy Chicago lakefront, be prepared for closed restroom facilities. Be prepared to run far and fast, because you are running on a thin strip of grass between Lake Michigan and Lake Shore Drive, and there are only bridges every mile or so for runners to access the more frequent restrooms on the non-lake side of the highway.

Be prepared to imagine your buttcheeks clenched so tight that you couldn’t sneak a well-lubricated Q-tip™ up there. Be prepared to accept that five minutes of such clenching while running is the equivalent of those little machines that scramble eggs inside the shell: your intestinal blender is set on purée.

When you finally give up and are reduced to hiding behind a clump of unmowed waist-high grass so that you can be seen neither by the people fifty yards away with the Frolicking and Curious English sheepdogs nor the heavy traffic on the road, be educated about the physics of nice flat rocks:

  1. they won’t scratch your exposed and sweaty ass
  2. they allow you to squat very low to the ground
  3. they have a far greater splash factor than grass

Next time:

  • you will wish to store a handkerchief in your pocket
  • you will wish to wear older, less white running shoes
  • you will wish to make your exit with haste, for Frolicking and Curious English Sheepdogs are expert at locating fresh purée
  • you will wish to remove your headphones while squatting so that you can hear the approach of strangers over the blare of C+C Music Factory

Be forewarned that being caught sniffing your fingers quizzically while sprinting from a clump of unmowed grass makes you look suspicious to dog owners and runners.

Be pleased with yourself for sporting compression shorts that are too tight to suffer crack contamination.

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The lake effect

Summer in a southern town: an outing to a small, man-made lake, my girlfriend and I. This was a special day, as we were finally taking out her little sailboat which we’d been hauling and storing for years without ever using.

At the lake was a tiny beach where you were allowed to swim – a crescent of imported sand, a tennis-court sized plot of green-brown water demarcated by a rope with bobbing buoys, the whole area packed with the hundreds of people who decided that this was a fine use for a sunny July day. There was a concession stand and public bathrooms and picnic tables, and the whole thing was entirely unappealing: hot and crowded.

If you are lucky enough to have your own 12-foot yacht, you don’t have to mingle with the rabble. You launch at the boat slip, so of course you fall in the water. The county park ranger tells you there there’s no swimming except in designated areas, so you tell her you weren’t swimming, but she pretends she doesn’t hear you. You clamber back into your yacht in your now-wet blue-and-white flowered board shorts, muttering under your breath.

We got the sailboat all set up and waited for the wind. We waited some more. A slight puff filled the sail, and we were glad. We were still only about ten feet from the boat launch, however. We paddled a bit with the single oar to get away from the no-swimming-woman, but it was impossible to move the boat with any speed or specific destination in mind. But there wasn’t much in the way of wind, so we decided to enjoy the sunshine, drifting around the lake. We drifted eventually to the center of the small lake and had a picnic, letting the light wind take us where it might. While I was enjoying my sandwich, my meal was interrupted by the emergency broadcast system. First, shooting pain. Then:

BOWELS: We are full. You have thirty seconds.
ME: I’m eating lunch!
BOWELS: Twenty-eight.
ME: I’m on a boat, motherfucker.
BOWELS: Twenty-five.
ME: There are bathrooms at the beach.
BOWELS: The lake is a giant toilet.
ME: I’m not alone! What about her?
BOWELS: Nineteen.

My entire life I have been deeply envious of anal retentive people. I have about as much retaining power as a sandcastle wall. These emergency broadcasts are accompanied by sharp, shooting pains which make it clear that my bowels aren’t fucking around. NOW.

I explained to her, in an oddly tense combination of great humility and panic, that I had to go to the bathroom RIGHT NOW. That’s an unfortunate euphemism, but I couldn’t say that I was going to take a shit right in front of her. I yelled “Sorry!” over my shoulder and plunged into the lake.

First, I had to get off my board shorts. This wasn’t, of course, the first time that my bowels had pulled this particular stunt. I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say that I know you have to get the shorts off.

I got the shorts to my ankles when my bowels released their burden. I propelled myself away from the boat backwards so I wouldn’t be floating in my own squid ink. All the pain stopped.

Relief. Ahhh.

“Are you okay?” she called.

“Don’t look!” I shouted. There was a trail of tears between me and the boat, and the last thing I needed was for her to be looking at it. We’d been together for years, but there was no reason for her to inspect the shameful herd of tiny brown lake otters surfacing by the boat. I continued pooping; my bowels weren’t shitting me about being full. It was a lot.

I was so relieved that I didn’t crap on the boat and that the intense discomfort was gone. I was so relieved that I didn’t quite make full sense of the loud noise breaking the quiet of the lake.

A motor. A skiff with two park rangers buzzed toward me. The megaphone blared a man’s voice: “THERE’S NO SWIMMING EXCEPT IN DESIGNATED AREAS. GET BACK IN THE BOAT.”

I look at my girlfriend, her mouth an O of surprise. The boat circles around me, about twenty yards away. I’m going to have to swim through an entire otter colony to get back to the boat. I reach down to pull up my board shorts. But they aren’t there.

“NO SWIMMING. GET BACK IN THE BOAT.”

I can’t find my shorts. I do a 360 but can’t see them anywhere. They are blue and white and flowered, so I should be able to see them. This lake is not particularly clean, even on a good day, and today is most assuredly not a good day.

I wave to the rangers to let them know I hear them. “Gotcha! Everything’s fine,” I shout. I’m just shitting in your little lake.

“GET BACK IN YOUR BOAT NOW.” They are motoring closer.

I am swimming in the middle of a bad dream. I can’t just clamber back into the boat naked, for God’s sake, with two park rangers and a future ex-girlfriend watching.

I’m thinking I swim around to the other side of the boat to climb in. My girlfriend’s seen me naked, at least. I’m half-treading, half-swimming, and I feel what I imagine to be a particularly mature otter rub against my loins. Yuck. I look down and am gratified to see a familiar clump of blue-and-white fabric.

Saved. I fumble awkwardly with my shorts, trying to slip them on and keep my face out of the water, swimming away from the skiff while the rangers shout each last warning to me. I finally wrangle my legs into the leg-holes and pull them up. I am no longer naked, I am no longer full of shit, and I am happy.

I climbed back into the boat and waved to the rangers and smiled weakly at my future wife. She shook her head and grimaced and we paddled back to the beach.

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