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Porcelain Pilgrim: the unclogging experience

by Stephen Ho October 13, 2015

Taking the plunger sometimes backfires… onto your face

Ladies and gentlemen of Concordia,

I’ve recently been a bit under the weather or at least a bit under my books. I was having trouble finding the time to write a review. I discussed the topic with some friends and they reinvigorated me with memories and a reminder of an entire backlog of anecdotes I have yet to transcribe.

I had originally thought to review washrooms in the Concordia area as a way to make it relatable to students, and I will continue to do that. But today, I would like to examine and justify my chosen topic of literature to those who might still doubt the legitimacy of this form.

Toilet humour has a bad rap. It’s seen as a low form of comedy—cheap and dirty, somewhat unimaginative and immature. It isn’t classy, nor is it clever. Why does it persist?

Dear readers, it is because toilet humour is a common denominator. We all poop. We can all relate to the harrowing misadventures of trying to find a washroom in time. Entire traditions have formed to establish the proper etiquette for relieving yourself. A multiplicity of synonyms and allusions, polite references to defecation, all so that you can explain your brief absence without offending someone’s sensibilities.

To grace the porcelain throne is something common to us all and yet we mentioning it in polite society. How strange for us to deny such common ground. We do not have the same skin colours, we do not speak the same language, but we all poop! Is that not reason enough for us to rejoice? So long divided by difference, here we have a perfect unifier that does not require some esoteric knowledge!

Now that I have made my opinion clear, not only to you, but to myself as well, I would like to leave you all with a story.

My family owns a pretty little cottage up in the Laurentians that we visit every so often. I am here now with my father, mother and sister. I woke up slowly this morning.

Well to be perfectly candid, it was about noon when I woke up, for which I am slightly ashamed. I went over to the bathroom to take my usual morning tinkle when I noticed there was already urine and tissue in the bowl.

This did not bother me but I was somewhat curious since since my family is not the type to let yellow mellow. I thought nothing more of it, flushed, washed and departed.

I returned some hours later to find that my urine, as well as that of the previous occupant still remained there, mingling unashamedly in a sick incestuous fashion. I tried to flush again. The water only rose a little higher.

“The toilet’s clogged!” I called down to the rest of my family.

First mistake.

“Get the plunger then!”

I should have just waited for someone else to happen upon it. “I didn’t even clog it,” I grumbled as I went to fetch the plunger from the other washroom.

“Okay,” I said to myself as I rolled up the sleeves of my favourite green sweater and cracked my knuckles. “Let’s do this thing.” I put the plunger in and gave it a single good pump. Well of course that wouldn’t do it. I like to think I’m not a one pump kind of guy anyway. I kept going, at a steady, even rate at first.

But 10 seconds into this, the water, urine and bits of tissue and feces started splashing in all directions and I panicked. In my mind, the faster I got it done, the less I would have to endure septic waste splashing in my face and reduce my likelihood of contracting pink eye.

I pumped frantically now, not even aiming as I was holding my head back and away from that gaping, spitting porcelain mouth. I chanced a glance.

“Augh!” I cried, “it’s on my face!” I pumped even harder.

Brown swirled around the bowl, the consistency of wet minced meat. I paused. That wasn’t there before. Had I done it? Was I free from this nightmare? I reached over to flush, profusely spitting into the bowl, for I was sure some had splashed into my mouth.

A tense moment as the water began to rise and then, graciously, it went down. I exhaled and my shoulders slumped. I surveyed the devastation around me like some veteran of a senseless war coming out of the frenzy of fighting for the first time. It was over.

Now, although this anecdote is light and somewhat comedic (I hope), it is my wish that these stories shed some light on these strange rituals we all perform but do not discuss. More to follow soon!

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