Everyone does it. It’s a natural and normal bodily function. Why some people find it funny is interesting. Why others cringe when they hear about it is also interesting. Here are three times in my life when I have been most greatly affected by poo.
We stopped at Lowe’s after church one day. I can’t remember why, but while we were there, my brother and I decided we needed to pee before making the trip back home. My dad figured out where the bathrooms were located and the three of us headed to the back of the store.
Upon opening the door, we were hit with an odor so foul that it made me gag. At the time I was only about eight years old, so subtlety wasn’t necessarily a strength of mine.
“Woah! Something stinks!” I yelled, like eight year-old boys do. “Did somebody die in here?”
At first, none of us knew that the producer of said odor was still in the process of finishing his business. Evidently my dad didn’t realize there was someone in the stall until after he’d finished at the urinal. But the entire time, I continued to say stuff like, “Holy cow, that’s bad” and “that guy musta had beans for dinner last night”. You know, things eight year-olds say.
“Hmm,” I wondered aloud. “Whoever stunk up this bathroom must not have flushed.”
So, I took it upon myself to kick in each of the stall doors to see if a mess had been left. It was about that time that my poor dad finally realized there was a guy in the last stall. By the time he put the pieces together, I was already there.
I kicked the door, sort of hoping I was right about some jerk not flushing. Again, I don’t think it’s possible to overstate how disgusting it was. But I was surprised that the door didn’t open like the others.
Now, if you don’t know me well, you wouldn’t know that I am not a logical thinker. I’m not a rational thinker. I certainly skew to the abstract and emotional side of the spectrum. I say this to explain why what happened next happened.
When the door didn’t open, it didn’t immediately occur to me that the door was locked. So I kicked it again. Upon getting the same result as the first time, it dawned on me that the door was locked, but the “why” still hadn’t occurred to me. In my silly little mind, I thought someone had played a practical joke – I thought someone took a profoundly disgusting poo, locked the door, and climbed under the stall so no one could get to the toilet to flush it. Why that seemed logical, I’ll never know.
Being the good Samaritan that I am, I decided to take it upon myself to rectify the issue. Before my dad could realize what was happening (mind you, he’s at the sink trying not to die of a heart attack he’s laughing so hard), I dropped down on my hands and knees so I could climb under the stall door.
I saw shoes. Boots, to be more precise. I heard a sudden whir behind me and realized it was my dad and brother running out the door as fast as they could. It was just me and the owner of those boots still in the bathroom. I got back up immediately and raced out the door like I was being chased by a bear. I rounded the corner and there before me were my dad and brother, already about 50 yards away, dying with laughter.
I can’t help but laugh about it now. Because there are so many questions I don’t have answers for. Like, why didn’t my dad or brother tell me there was a dude in the stall? Hell, why didn’t the dude in the stall tell me there was a dude in the stall? He had not one, but TWO kicks to speak up. Why did I feel the need to kick in all the stall doors to try to find a disgusting dump? Why did I feel the responsibility to flush someone else’s mess? How did my brain not make the connection that the door was locked because there was a dude in the stall?!?
I’ll never know who that was. But, I want to say something. If you, dear reader, were in Anderson, Indiana about 22 years ago, and you were taking a deuce on a Sunday at Lowe’s around 11am and some little kid tried to come through the door at you – you might want to consider changing up your diet. Just a suggestion.
Hendrik has been going to daycare two days a week since he was 15 weeks old. It’s been a really good thing for the whole family. He gets to be in a learning environment with other littles while Allison gets to work and use her adult brain a couple days per week rather than her mommy brain.
The one big downside to daycare? All the germs. For a while there, it seemed like H was getting sick every other week. Usually it was just a cold with sniffles and a cough, although those of you with kids of any age will understand that at 6 months old, there’s no such thing as sniffles – just runny noses. Like, a faucet of boogers. I’m amazed at how many boxes of Kleenex we went through in his first year of life.
Around the time Hendrik was about to turn a year old, he developed an ear infection. We got him on antibiotics and it seemed to clear up. But two weeks later, he was feeling sick again and lo and behold, he had another ear infection. More antibiotics. But this time, he seemed to get better for a day or two before getting really fussy again.
One morning – and when I say morning, I mean somewhere between 3am and 4am – he started wailing in his crib. At this point in his life, he was typically a good sleeper unless he was sick. After waiting him out for ten minutes, I decided I should check on him (read: Allison decided I should check on him).
There’s nothing quite as terrifying as opening the nursery door and smelling an odor that is so foul – so, so very foul – that it beckons mental images of pig farms and septic tanks. It hit me like a freight train. A big, bold freight train made of feces and vomit. The smell had a strange sour element to it, something I’ve never experienced before. It was so bad, my brain quite literally had a fight-or-flight response and I almost convinced myself to shut the door and go back to bed. For those of you who don’t know me well, I’m a lover, not a fighter.
Instead, I decided this poor child needed his daddy more than I needed to not be scarred for life by this entire situation. Upon flipping on the light, it was waaaaaay worse than I had imagined.
There he was. My sweet little baby boy. Covered head to toe in, well, some sort of liquid. I’m still not sure exactly what it was (spoiler: it was poo). It was still seeping out of his onesie. It was soaking into the sheets. It was on the blanket. It was on the crib rails. It was four o’clock in the everloving morning. Hendrik stood at the railing confused and sobbing so pitifully it could make a Russian Zsar’s heart melt. I scooped him up and brought him directly to the bath, holding him no closer than 18 inches from my own body.
I’ll spare some of the finer details, but we finally got it all out of his hair and off of his body. He was a trooper through it all, and finally, we were able to put him back to bed. Later we found out he had a really nasty bacterial infection that causes overwhelmingly awful diarrhea. In the end, I was praying I’d never have to deal with that again.
It happened again the very next night. And it happened multiple times each day. It was like a super crappy version of the movie Groundhog’s Day.
You see what I did there?
We were heading toward the large suspension bridge over the Black River where the trail head was located. I was with a bunch of kids from my youth group and the youth pastor, and we were going to make our yearly pilgrimage to the little waterfall that was maybe a mile and a half upstream.
We were on a retreat up in Wisconsin that we called “Breakaway” – a week-long trip to a place called Fort Wilderness. Awesome trip, one of my favorites. We went tubing, kayaking, canoeing. They had archery, skeet shooting, a ropes course. The place was a little slice of heaven (well, except with quarter-sized mosquitoes). Every year, we would drive about an hour away to a state park to hike the Black River.
But as we were making our way toward the trail head, my stomach was feeling pretty sour. I thought about running to the bathroom, but I didn’t want to get left behind. Plus the bathrooms were like all state park bathrooms – super dirty and disgustingly hot. Whatever. I decided to push through.
About five minutes into the hike, there is this amazing waterfall. It has to be at least 30 feet tall, which at the time seemed gigantic to me, given that the elevation of the entire state of Indiana only varies about 30 feet. The best part of this waterfall is that there is a huge rock to the side of it that people can jump from. The water at the bottom of the waterfall is plenty deep. So as was custom, we all took turns jumping off the rock to kick the hike off right (there were trails through the woods, but we always stayed in the river and hiked upstream – it was way more fun that way).
The moment I hit the water, something odd happened to my body. It was a hot day and the water was pretty brisk, so maybe the drastic change in temperature shocked my system for a minute. I swam over to the rock ledge where you could climb back up toward the trail. But as I pulled myself up, my stomach tried to fold itself in half. (That didn’t actually happen, it just felt like it.) Suddenly, I felt an immense pressure in my lower abdomen. It was a familiar feeling, but not in this setting.
I was about to crap my pants.
There were a couple people behind me waiting to climb back up to the trail, so I felt compelled to get as far away from them as possible. I scurried up the landscape and realized that this feeling wasn’t going to go away. Not without a fight. I can’t describe this feeling adequately, but I sensed I had about 9 seconds before I was going to have an accident. I was 16 years old at the time. I couldn’t let that happen.
There was no way I was going to make it back to the bathrooms near the parking lot. And there was no chance I could find a tree to squat behind without having an audience nearby. So my body took action while my brain was trying to come up with options. The next thing I knew, I was again flying through the air toward the pool at the bottom of the waterfall.
I hit the water and before my head could even pop above water, I had untied my swim trunks and pulled them down to my knees. The water was murky enough that no one noticed. You can imagine what happened next.
There are certain things in life you’d never guess that you would have to pray for. But that day, in that moment, I was praying so hard. It went something like this: “Oh God…please don’t let this one be buoyant.”
By the grace of God, it wasn’t. ♦
Feel free to share your poo stories in the comments section! Everybody’s got one.