Way out in the country, how many people does it take to go to the bathroom?
“OK. On ‘hup-two-hike’ you do a down & out towards the feed bin. Curl right and head for the pig trough. I’ll fade back, then sneak towards the out-house, where I’ll stop and use the bathroom. Then, we’ll run the play again, so you can go.”
It’s been years since going to the bathroom was treated like an athletic event, but that’s the way it had to be because the only access to the out-house was through the old chicken yard, and it was guarded by a fiercely territorial killer goose.
Out of necessity, going to the bathroom at an uncle’s farm was a family affair. Someone had to distract the goose so somebody else could “go.” Night time was the worst. The blasted beast never slept. It didn’t matter that it was pitch dark, because the goose had the yard memorized and could move fast in any direction.
Nobody wanted to go at night, but if it had to be, it was best not to go alone. That’s why the diversion plays were invented. If the goose could be distracted, the chicken yard could be safely crossed. Then, the little one-seat shack could be entered and used, but the diversion had to be repeated for a safe, un-pecked return. This procedure was required for every person who had to go, night or day.
A visiting cousin didn’t believe in the family’s theory of “safety-in-numbers.” Certain he could handle one little bird, he took an evening trip across the chicken yard for what would later become the legend of “Cousin Bob’s Midnight Run For The Privy.”
Wearing a nightshirt, cousin Bob entered the chicken yard, closed the gate, and disappeared into the night. It was too dark to see anything, but the noises told the story. Off to the left, a sudden flapping and slapping of wings and webbed feet signaled the start of the attack. Feathers rustled. Feet meant for water beat the earth in a rapid, waddling rhythm that moved towards the center of the yard.
A sudden honk followed by a human shriek heralded the letting of first blood. Howling and honking, flapping of wings against nightshirt, slapping of arms against feathers revealed that the battle was engaged. The sounds of running feet- goose and human- moved in the dark towards the far side.
A door slammed.
Cousin Bob shouted in the night, “I’m gonna stay for a minute, then you gotta get me out-a-here!”
The goose was so upset it took several diversion plays to get her away from the outhouse, but eventually Bob was rescued.
So, way out in the country, how many people does it take to go to the bathroom? It takes just one to go, but it could take a whole family to come back.
In America, modern indoor plumbing is only about a hundred and twenty-five years old. In 1890’s America, a European invention called the P-Trap meant that mankind could hear a new sound: gurgling water leaving the house.
There’s a Trap for every plumbing fixture. If you have indoor plumbing, you have many Traps. One is under the kitchen sink. Most people think it’s there to catch wedding rings that slip off in the dishwater. Actually the Trap fills with water and keeps sewer gas from entering the house.
Modern civilization owes its very nature to the Trap. It wouldn’t be practical to have shopping malls or huge sporting events or even super-churches where lots of people need water based facilities.
When is it time to think about Indoor Plumbing?
Pretty close to the beginning is the best time. On the Home Building Timeline, grid locations H-10 and L-10 indicate the best moment to begin thinking about toilets that flush. That moment comes before even purchasing a homesite. Get a subscription to HomeBuildingTimeline.com here and check it out.
In honor of the Trap, which led to the development of the indoor out-house, I hereby establish the Andy Bozeman Zodiac and proclaim this year to be THE YEAR OF THE TOILET.
I call on everyone who has indoor plumbing to join me in this ritual: Type-out the following poetry. Frame it and hang it above the toilet of your choice. Every time you jiggle the handle, recite the poem, and be thankful. Without the Trap we could still be subjected to a daily dose of out-house aroma, and maybe a thrilling chase through a chicken yard. Imagine that at a shopping mall.
I don’t miss the aroma but I do long for the youthful days, when I could outrun a goose.
by Andy Bozeman
Happy Birthday Little Pot.
You’re a thing I’m glad I’ve got.
Let’s skip the lovey-dovey mush,
‘Cause I just like you for your flush.
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