A story from my book Funny Stories
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My Grandpap Was A Genius
I was sitting here staring at my word processor while working on a Western when I remembered two old complaints about western tv shows and movies. One, no one had to reload. A guy could fire 50 shots and never reload. Two, no one had to unload. You'd see the inside of a cabin or ranch house and there wouldn't be a bathroom. They'd show a long view of the place and you'd see a barn and, maybe, a bunk house but no bathroom. As a kid, I thought people in the old days didn't have to go. I couldn't picture them going off to the other side of the field and doing their business. I thought people didn't start going until they started using flush toilets and did it so as not to waste the toilet. I didn't, and still don't, know why they would put a toilet in the same room as the bathtub; didn't know, and still don't know, why anyone would want the toilet inside the house instead of the back of the yard?
You go to the bathroom, do what you need to do, wipe and flush. Everyone in the house knows what you just did. When you open the door and come out, everyone wrinkles their noses. Going to the bathroom is a private thing and yet we set it up so that going to the bathroom ends in a public announcement. What genius came up with this idea? It certainly wasn't my Grandpap.
a kid, I was used to having a toilet. I was used to it after I was housebroken. We always had one. After returning from living overseas for two years, my parents went on the Family Tour. We started with my father's family, the Hoity-Toity's. They all had inside flush toilets. I don't remember using one but I'm sure I did. Well, maybe not; they were a funny and particular crowd. Then it was time to do the second leg of the Tour- my mom's family. That did me in. I'm sure. I had been there before but I either had forgotten or was still in diapers. I can't think of any other reason for the eye-popping experience I had. Bear in mind, I was nine years old. After spending the afternoon playing with my not-too-well acquainted cousins , being chased by the junk and his junk-yard dog, I went back over to my grandparent's house.
The house was only four rooms; they raised ten kids there, somehow. When you stood in the doorway, you could see into the parlor and kitchen and up the stairs. I had to go and went upstairs to find the bathroom. The stairs opened to a bedroom. I saw a door and figured it was the bathroom; it was a closet. I went through the room to the other bedroom and saw what had to the bathroom; it was also a closet. What's this? The bathroom was in the living room or, shudders, the kitchen?
Down the stairs I went. It was getting painful. I peeked into the living room but no doors. That left the kitchen. Nope, no bathroom there! What is this? I needed to go. If I only needed to pee it would have been no problem; A guy can pee anywhere. What I needed was a toilet and couldn't find one. No choice but to ask.
"Mommy, I have to go," I said.
"Well, then go." (Uh, oh, is she having one of her days?)
"But, mommy, I, ah-"
"I can't go for you." (Yes, she is)
"I can't find it."
"It's out back."
Wow! Grandpap is smart. He put the toilet out back instead of in the house. What a genius! I went out the backdoor, down the steps, across the board-covered well and over to the shed. The toilet had to be in there, away from where you lived. It really needed to be in there the way I was feeling. I didn't have time to do a lot of looking around. Smart old man, my grandpap. I opened the door and the next thing I knew I was six-feet away, down on all fours, gagging and trying to hold myself.
I stood up and faced the biggest crisis of my life. I could go back into that evil-smelling shed, I could go in my pants or I could go in the yard. My pride forced me to try the shed again. I had been housebroken too long to go in my pants and I was too shy to go in the yard. OK, the shed it would be. I unbuttoned my pants, pulled the zipper down and, holding my pants up with my hands, I sucked as much air in as I could and dashed back into the shed. No toilet! All that was there was a box with a hole in it. What to do? I climbed onto the seat and cut loose. Unfortunately, I ran out of air first. Now I gagging, crapping and crying. I finished, grabbed some toilet paper and wiped, pulled my pants up and tried to run out.
I almost was yanked off my feet! My shirt was stuck in a crack in one of the boards! Oh, no! I'm doomed! Then, like a miracle, my shirt started to rip as I pulled harder and harder. I must have looked like a whirling dervish spinning out of that outhouse. I finally came to a stop and fell to the ground. I was alive! Praise the Lord, I was alive!
It was then I learned why all those old pictures showed people with pinched expressions on their faces. They were holding themselves until they had to go.