Tag Archives: poop

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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Parenting: a conversation

WIFE: Okay, my husband Karl will swear this is not true but it totally is… When our son Jason was very little and Karl stayed home with him during the days, Karl would often put Jason in the swing while doing chores or studying. One time, he looked over at Jason and saw he was covered in chocolate. He went over, stuck his finger in to taste, only to find out that it was not chocolate but diarrhea. I think it’s so traumatic that he has repressed the memory into his unconsciousness. I, however, think it’s hysterical, especially given how meticulous and germ-phobic Karl is.

COLLECTED POOP STORIES: I am thinking I would have known it wasn’t chocolate when my finger got about eighteen inches from my nose.

WIFE: Me, too! But Jason got a little older before the smell got really bad. And, I’m sure Karl was probably thinking about something else at the same time.

CPS: Wait. So he didn’t taste it. He just touched it.

WIFE: Oh, no. He tasted it. Definitely.

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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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Not your father’s Oldsmobile

by JP Reese

When I was in high school, we lived in a split-level house on a hill in New Jersey. The road up to the house, Circle Ave., was one lane and twisted, and it was slow going to get off or onto the hill. My boyfriend Jimmy and I would lie on the basement floor shag rug and watch TV after school every day, scrounging snacks from the kitchen upstairs and necking. One afternoon around 5:00, we heard my Dad’s LTD outside and the garage door going up.

My Dad came running through the door into the house, threw his car keys at Jimmy, and yelled, “Put my car in the garage!” as he bolted up the stairs and disappeared. We looked at each other, not knowing what to think, and Jimmy shrugged and went outside to pull the car in. He came back into the house with a horrified look on his face and whispered, “That car smelled just like SHIT!”

Apparently, Dad was stuck behind one of the slower neighbors on his way up the hill and home, and he decided to let one in preparation for a nice, long visit to the toilet, après commute. As he later explained it after Jimmy had gone home, “I let go to get a better hold, and it slipped.” The car did, indeed, smell like shit.

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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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Some parties you don’t want an invite to

The Poop Date
by Norton Loomer

I learned everything I know about modern dating while sitting on the toilet one day after school.

Normally I don’t use the student bathroom for my business, but I had a teacher meeting to get to and didn’t feel like making the quarter mile trek to the staff bathroom, only to find the stall occupied by one of the pot-smoking janitors. Besides, it was after school, so I figured I was in the clear. Sure enough, the bathroom was empty, so I locked the door, dropped my pants, sat down, and admired the writing on the wall while I waited for the big event.

I wasn’t too far along when two rowdy students, way too rambunctious for a public bathroom, began making a ruckus. At first I thought they were just there to change for whatever after school activity they did, so I just continued to sit and mind my own business. They let out a string of profanity, but other than that, they weren’t really causing me any problems. I sat there and tried to go undetected, being careful not to expel any bursts caused by the buildup of six hours without a bathroom break.

But left alone I would not be. When the initial shouting was over, a whispering began. I couldn’t quite make out what the young lads were saying, but it seemed to have something to do with me occupying the stall. I continued to focus on my own business, but sometimes the pressure gets to be too much.

Then the banging started. “Hey, who’s in there?” one of them shouted in an awkward pubescent squeak while the door rattled and quivered. Unsure the little latch would hold, I ripped off some toilet paper and prepared for departure.

“Hey, answer us!” the other one shouted.

“Yeah. Get outta there. We’re on our poop date.”

I quickened my pace, but not in time. Like a nimble monkey, one of the students emerged over the top of the stall and shouted something unintelligible at me before leaping off in what looked like fear.

“Hey, I think it’s the track coach,” he whispered after a surefooted landing on the tile.

“I don’t care,” the other one shouted. “This is our poop date! He needs to get out of there.”

Embarrassed for all of us, I finished wiping but remained fixed to the seat. I wanted to give them the chance to escape. I’d already seen one face, and although I hoped it was a vague enough depiction that I wouldn’t recognize him in the hallway, I knew I would never be able to forget him.

“I’m outta here,” the climber said.

“No. You need to stick around for a poop date.”

The climber didn’t acquiesce. There was some shuffling of bags and feet followed by steps that gradually distanced themselves from the toilet. Then silence. Surely they were gone.

I rose, pulled up my pants, and stepped out of the stall, the toilet automatically swallowing behind me. Marching to the sink, I spied a young man hanging out by the urinal. He gave me a funny look, but I refused to make eye contact. I pretended it wasn’t one of them, that the funny look was just the reaction to seeing a teacher in the bathroom. Students don’t seem to think we have normal lives. They don’t expect to see teachers outside of the classroom. We don’t even have bodily functions. We’re just weirdos who coop ourselves up in a classroom for days on end, slaving away at lesson planning and paper grading.

After my meetings were over, I went down to the track to organize cross country practice. On my way into the stadium, the climber, dressed now in his football gear, gave me a curious smile, and I knew my embarrassment exceeded his. I nodded to let him know I would never speak of this, and his return glance told me that he would make his dating life a bit more private from now on.

That is until he posted a picture of himself naked on Twitter. At least that’s what I heard.

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There has to be a merit badge for this

On a Cub Scout field trip, we visited a clipper ship. It was a beautiful boat, lots of polished wood and portholes and brass fittings and all sorts of things that appeal to the nautical-minded Cub Scout pack. There were long banks of navy blue plaid cushions and a dark mottled shag carpet on the floor in the cabins below – it was the 70s, and shag carpet even followed you underwater. We’re talking half-inch pile here.

We learned that on a boat, the kitchen is the galley and the bathroom is the head. Our guide, a man older than our fathers, told us that if we needed to use the head, we should go first and then pump a handle next to the toilet. This was a white metal arm with rubber handgrips, on the floor next to the toilet bowl like an emergency brake. It’s a water conservation mechanism; on a boat, it’s an empty, waterless bowl and it flushes with a quick, powerful whoosh.

The pack followed the guide to other parts of the boat. While we were in the Captain’s Quarters, I received an urgent message from my netherworld: time to poop. It was perfect timing, since I could run back to the toilet unnoticed. I am a quick and easy pooper, not someone who needs the New York Times and a quiet half hour. All I need is a closed door.

I went back to the head and shut the door and pooped immediately. No problem. Quick wipe, quick zip of the Cub Scout uniform, and I was good to go. I pumped the handle to flush. Nothing happened. Dropping a log into a boat toilet is highly unsatisfying: there’s no water for floating, so it just sat there, marooned next to a wad of toilet paper. I pumped again, and a sad little whoosh took away the toilet paper, leaving a very stubborn Cub Scout muffin in the bowl.

I flushed again, feeling creeping panic. Nothing changed.

I made a snap decision: I closed the lid and prepared to abandon my shame. No one would know it was mine, and I would be free. I listened at the door; hearing nothing, I cracked it open and peered out into the hall. I was alone looking down a long corridor of shag carpet. Score! I closed the door behind me and went off to find the pack.

Then I was seized by an unusual tug of my conscience: you can’t just leave it lying there. The Cub Scout motto: I promise to do my best, to do my duty, to God and my country, to help other people, and to obey the law of the pack. An abandoned turd would reflect poorly on all of Pack 452. I did my duty, and now I had to get rid of the evidence.

I went back to the head and opened the door. I lifted the lid and looked at the obstinate little turd. One more try. I left the door open, so it wouldn’t look like mine should I be discovered. Disgusting, isn’t it? What churlish Scout did this?

I gave the white metal handle a very hard, double-handed pump. To my great surprise, the turd was ejected from the bowl. It flew through the air in a high arc, out the door, into the hallway, onto the carpet. There it lodged in the deep 70’s shag.

My poor little Cub Scout heart stopped. I peered at the turd; touching it was out of the question. This was just as bad as it could be. What could I do?

I looked out the hallway: it was empty.

I bolted out of the bathroom, dodged the carpet burger, and headed as far from that toilet as I could. I dashed the length of the boat until I found my pack, and I rejoined them as if nothing happened. Oh, I was just playing with a porthole, I would tell anyone who asked. No one asked.

I was back in the pack, breathing silent relief. Someone would step in it, and I would be far from the scene of the crime when it happened. Fuck Pack 452.

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You only turn 10 once… thankfully

Pipe exploded in our bowling alley spewing sewage onto a 10 yr old girl having a birthday party. I had to call the family the next day to apologize and offer compensation. The mom said, “Don’t worry, we love your place.”

Made me cry with gratitude.

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