I think most people have a poo fixation to some degree. There’s just something about regularity that is fulfilling. Otherwise why would there be so many options advertised like crazy in the media? (Now that I’m typing this I’m wondering to myself if it’s actually me the ads are targeting … have I been profiled as a poo fanatic?)

Luckily I’m fairly regular. When I’m not I’m cranky. I know myself well enough to recognize the disruptions to my well being. The biggest of these is schedule and a close second is place. A good day starts with a routine (slight modifications allowed): coffee, dog walk, bm – in that order. After Rudy has his breakfast (and Molly has hers too) it’s time for a walk. Molly is totally a routine pooper; two or three a day and she’s a happy girl. Sometimes on the morning walk she has two (we call that “double Dutch”) so it’s always a best practice to have two bags ready.

After the walk Rudy is busy with whatever and that’s my personal best time. I might have another cup of coffee and read the paper or some news on my device. But in a perfect world that’s when nature calls. Now in retirement mode, this ritual takes place mid morning. Say 9:30 or 10 am. I’m not an early morning person. Never was. Never will be.

If the schedule is disrupted (like yesterday) due to travel plans then that spells trouble. My system can’t be rushed. It also isn’t awake before 8 am. Yesterday started at 6:30 am. Yuck. We were packing and gathering and sorting. All in a half sleep state. It’s still pitch dark out at that ungodly hour! Molly complies and her routine adjusts nicely. We are in the car by 7:30 am. It’s a two hour drive to our first destination and since Rudy is far more of a morning person he is the driver. Molly and I nap the entire way.

We drop Molly at her grooming appointment (the reason for the early start) and head out for breakfast. I’m not a breakfast person (mornings are tricky for me in any event, but eggs and breakfast foods are not my favourite) but by the time we get to eat it feels like lunch. Rudy is aware of my preferences so he’s trying to accommodate. I order the breakfast poutine which is a mash up of wieners, skillet potatoes, bacon, cheese and peppers. It’s really tasty. With coffee and water.

Then we run our errands. It’s not fun this time of year. Everyone seems to be on edge and distracted in their holiday frenzy. We finish our errands and make our way back to the groomer neighbourhood. We are too early. Molly is still in situ. So we head to the local diner called the Whistle Stop. I’m sure in the day it was a trackside venue for a quick fix. But nowadays it’s a convenience store/coffee shop. A local gathering place common to country villages. We sit and order drinks; Perrier for me and coffee for Rudy. It’s a busy place and I feel obligated to order food just to take up space. We agree to split a sandwich while we read the paper.

I’m starting to relax and feel normal again. The unpleasant ruse of earlier is fading. Along with that is Mother Nature starting to call. I try to tell her it’s a wrong number. Look where we are?? I’m in a rustic diner! I can’t take her call here!! She persists and I have no option. I walk the plank.

This is where disruption number two (place) has a gripping effect on me. I’m usually firmly resolved not to use sketchy bathrooms. My brain is able to send a strong cease and desist notice to my urges that allow me to hold all actions until the brain senses a suitable place. Better to have the uncomfortable feeling than deal with the psychological fallout from using a bad bathroom. For example, I would rather have a bladder implode than use an outhouse or Johnny on the spot. Period.

Yesterday I used the diner facilities. I had no choice. Sadly, along with sub-standard surroundings, these convenience locations have another pitfall: single ply toilet paper. It feels like using your bare hands unless you bunch up a good sized wad. Of course , in their efforts to be frugal and eco-friendly, someone like me ruins the notion. (In this case it could also be necessity to assist the ancient plumbing and lack of water pressure) Too much TP equals flushing problems. It was a five flusher for this reason. I’m sure some unsuspecting staff had to plunge. Sorry.

My good friends have a cottage. It’s spectacular in many ways … remote, secluded, off the grid (in every way) but has (had) no indoor plumbing. There was an envirolet toilet on the inside for peeing only. Peeing was a process. Firstly you add peatmoss with a small bulk barn scooper into the toilet (there’s no water in the bowl; in fact the bowl opens to a trough below). Then you pee. But the tp does not go in the toilet; it is placed in a waste paper bin. Then you add more peatmoss to the trough. No flush. But here’s the thing: a girls weekend means lots of drinking (and peeing) which on a good weekend you do dockside and in the lake however on this weekend it rained so we were trapped indoors. Not pretty for someone who has a toilet phobia (yes, that’s a real thing; google it)

Worse. For bm you have to use the outhouse. Located a short (but necessary obviously) distance from the cottage via a dirt pathway into the woods is the outhouse with a wooden/screen door. On day three of the girls weekend I got the call from Mother Nature. It was an urgent call that I needed to answer. My friends were cheering me on … it’s a big moment. I dashed out the door, into the drizzle, down the dirt (wet muddy) path to the outhouse. I pant using my mouth so I don’t inhale a smell that will trigger my gag reflex. As I approach the outhouse there’s a voice yelling “occupied” through the screen. Someone else is using the outhouse!! Oh no!!

Then there’s a flurry of reaction: I gasp and breathe in through my nose; the rainy low pressure has magnified the stench; I whip around to race back to dry land; I slip and slide through the mud back to the porch; my cheerleaders are waiting for the great news report. Occupied. That word is seared into my memory for all time. I’m practically in tears. What should have been extreme release and vindication became tortured agony. I was, eventually, able to complete my mission. However, I have not been able to return to the cottage under any conditions. They now have indoor plumbing but the ptsd from my first experience is overwhelming.

Others are far more liberal about their functions. I have a friend who makes it her first activity of the day. Wake and go. My sisters like that too. They semi brag about it. I seethe. Rudy’s friend has a weak bowel due to contracting a parasite years before; he goes within minutes of any meal. Like clockwork.

Others see poo as a science experiment: how well do we digest foods? My brother and sister (as kids) decided to challenge the claim (urban myth started by teachers to thwart gum chewing ) that swallowing gum builds up like a brick wall in your gut causing untold emergencies. They chewed entire packs of hubba bubba and swallowed it so they could scrutinize their poo subsequently. It turns out that gum is easily processed. Most people test the theory of digestion with corn. Many flush without even looking! That’s a sin.

It’s easy to poke fun at someone like me. I get it. I’ve been given poo gifts. Such as mugs, books, calendars. Funny toilet paper is another. Go ahead and laugh I think to myself. The next time you have complications you’ll know the feeling.

I wish you all free and clear movements.

May you never experience: Occupied!!!

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