Welcome friends. Put another log on the hearth and fire up the kettle, then sit back and let me tell you a story. It is a story about young love, about growing up, and perhaps most importantly, a story about poop. Which I love. I love talking about poop. And if you say you don’t, you are either lying or very boring, in which case I don’t even want to associate with you, much less let you read my hilarious, yet heartfelt poop story. This story takes place several days after I completed my sophomore year of college. I was 20 years old and I was breaking up with my boyfriend of almost two years.
Before we get into this tale though, a little bit of back-story is in order. I am very bad at pooping. Or very good, depending on how you denote value between quantity and quality. Let’s put it this way, I don’t poop very often but when I do, it is a noteworthy event for all parties involved. Perhaps a better analogy would be if you opened your front door one night and a delivery boy from a local Italian restaurant was there holding a robust meatball sub (sometimes two) and you’re like, “Excuse me, young man, I did not order this enormous hoagie.” And he’s like, “Well too bad, it’s Monday. See you Wednesday, Friday, and probably Sunday. Unless you’re going to be traveling. Then I’ll just see you in a week when you get back and I’ll need a large wagon. Oh and if you have an important show or event coming up then I’ll find you when it is most inconvenient for you.” And then he leaves you standing in the doorway holding a sandwich as big as a baby, wishing you could just order one small sandwich, something light (maybe flatbread?), every day like a normal girl.
As you can imagine, this makes pooping anywhere besides my home a real point of anxiety for me. For instance, a few springs ago I went to Louisiana with my family and the second I heard that we were going to be staying on a houseboat, I knew I was going to clog the toilet on a houseboat. Nothing quite puts a damper on your vacation like when you emerge sweating from a cramped boat bathroom, defective plunger in hand. Your whole family looks up at you from the game of Scrabble they were trying to play, doing their best to ignore the frantic splashing coming from behind the door of the primitive commode. I would also like to note that not only did none of them help me haul swamp water into the boat to pour down the toilet, but my dad also made fun of me the whole time for “clogging up the chitter.” You would think that if there was one place that it wasn’t taboo to plug up a hole it would be a boat but you would be wrong apparently.
So, it’s the beginning of the summer after my second year of school. My boyfriend and I are breaking up. He was going to Med School five hours away and I was 20 so we had mutually decided to split up at the end of the school year. After graduation I went back to his hometown to stay with him for a few days before my mom was going to come pick me up and bring me home for the summer.
I don’t know if any of you know what it’s like to have your own bowels try to sabotage you at every turn but for those of you who do, you know the fear I felt sitting in my boyfriend’s childhood bedroom knowing that there was a full force gale brewing in the downstairs. The stress of moving, the traveling, and now the dread of having to say goodbye had created a perfect storm. The little Dutch boy had his finger in the dike and he was like, “Oh fuck. This is going to end very badly for me and for all of my Dutch brethren. Someone help. Please someone help.” (In this analogy, the hole in the dike is my asshole.)
Obviously, I couldn’t unleash this monstrosity on my wonderful soon-to-be ex-boyfriend and his innocent family. I wanted the last thing that I left with him to be a light kiss on the lips and the promise that we would never forget one another, not a cement-like obstruction in his septic system. I wanted his first call after I left to be to me, to tell me he missed me already, not to a commercial plumber like, “Sir, please bring backup. Don’t try to be a hero. We’ve never seen anything like it.” When I said a piece of me would always be with him, I didn’t want him to think I meant the gargantuan turd I left lurking in his pipes like a basilisk, waiting to rear its ugly head. My mom was going to pick me up in just a few hours so my plan was to just weather the storm looming in my colon with a quiet grace, say my weepy goodbyes, then get in the car and tell my mother to haul ass to the nearest gas station, public library, or abandoned barn. Really anywhere that we didn’t mind never returning for the rest of our lives would be fine.
It was a fine plan but a plan that ultimately failed. I was sitting there thinking to myself, “Are you really going to say goodbye to your boyfriend with this darkness inside of you? Isn’t that going to taint the already sad moment? Jesus, you are bursting at the seams here. Use the restroom like an adult.” And then after that it all just happened so fast and the next thing I knew I was face to face with the physical embodiment of shame. A lot of times, with things like these the outcome that you build up in your mind is a thousand times worse than anything that will actually occur. This was not one of those times. It was exactly as terrible as I thought it would be, possibly worse.
Now, in this situation, you have a couple options.
• Option 1. You can say a short prayer, flush it, and then just hope for the god damn best. This option is relatively clean but high risk.
• Option 2. Find a utensil of some kind, a pencil or plastic fork, and use it to break the problem up into small, flushable pieces. This option requires some very discreet clean up as far as disposing of the weapon, but is almost fool proof in the flush department.
• Option 3. Find a zip lock or plastic bag. Collect the material. Go outside and throw it in the dumpster. As you leave, ask anyone in the vicinity if they saw that gigantic squirrel eating a bunch of White Castle sliders over by the dumpster to cover your tracks. This option is to be used only in very dire situations, as it requires you to literally walk around with your own shit in a bag like you’re taking yourself for a walk. It is the least glamorous of the three options.
I chose Option 1. I squeezed my eyes tightly shut and said a prayer to Saint Aedan: “Dear Saint Aedan, this is Gena. Sorry to bother you again. I know you’re the Patron Saint of Ferns and this isn’t really your field but there is no Patron Saint of Clogging the Toilet All the Time so I picked you because I feel like you probably don’t have a lot else to do. I don’t really understand what the Patron Saint of Ferns even means. Like, do ferns pray to you? For more fertile soil? Or do people pray to you when their potted ferns rot or get eaten by the cat? All I’m saying is you’ve got to have a little extra time on your hands to help me out here. And if this doesn’t work I’m going to pray to either Saint Susanna, Patron Saint of Those Named Susanna, or Saint Blaise, Patron Saint of Throat Ailments. Business cannot be booming for them either. Anyways, please help guide this remarkably large BM all the way through the pipes and to the promise land. Amen.” Then, with clammy and shaking hands, I reached for the silver handle and flushed.
AND IT WENT DOWN. It was nothing short of a miracle. “Aedan, you phat bitch,” I yelled, “You’ve done it again!” And then I did one of those cool fist pump things that Tiger Woods and I like to do when we get a hole in one. From there, I packed up my things, went upstairs, said goodbye to my boyfriend, gross cried in front of everyone, and it was horrible and sad and just the worst. At the time, the toilet fiasco was just another terrible factor of an already terrible day. But now, looking back it stands out as a point of humor in a very sad day. I think of it almost fondly because it reminds me of the teachings of Saint Aedan who says that no matter how big, or how scary, or how inconvenient, all of the problems that life throws at us can be flushed eventually, if only we just believe. And if not, just use a plastic fork.