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Porcelain Pilgrim: The outdoor defecation

by Stephen Ho November 17, 2015
Porcelain Pilgrim: The outdoor defecation

If you eat pizza and poutine when you’re lactose intolerant—you’re in for trouble

Going off the topic of the last article’s meditations, I would like to consider the interesting blend between the private and the public that washrooms afford us.

Graphic by Kimberly Lam.

Graphic by Kimberly Lam.

In our day-to-day lives, many things in the world seem to be divided into the private and the public, a vestige and inheritance of the modern age. However, the space of the washroom, the water closet, is an ambiguous place and, as such, makes us uncomfortable. I cannot speak for the female experience, but in mine it is taboo and certainly worth a harsh word or at least a dirty look if eye contact is made at the urinal.

The washroom is a private space made public out of necessity, not out of preference. The act of defecation or urination is a subject so personal that sometimes even with our closest partners we feel ashamed or embarrassed to discuss or to perform before them. And yet, we do it in public on a daily (or nearly daily) basis. What an interesting phenomenon. A topic brushed over or swept aside due to its sensitive nature, or rather, our sensitive nature.

In almost all aspects we have become more progressive. All except this. I like writing these stories because they are a common ground. In the same, and far less amusing way that math is a common language. Do we dare dream of peace and unity through the common topic of poops and poots? How absurd, but how magnificent it would be.

In line with the ambiguous nature of our perception of defecation, I would like to, as usual, present you with a short anecdote.

I was out late with some friends one night this past summer and we decided to pick up a snack before we all headed home. Usually in the late hours the go-to meals are always greasy and cheesy. It’s normally the best thing ever, unless you’re lactose intolerant—which I am. Actually, it’s still the best thing ever because it’s like the forbidden fruit for me. That salacious pizza just asking to be in my mouth, I mean, just look at its dressing! So I ate it. With a side of poutine. If anyone who is reading this is lactose intolerant, you probably know that eating any of those items on their own is problematic to say the least… but together? That’s almost a death wish.

Being the idiot I am, I figured it would be fine and I’d just hold it in until I got home. No big deal. I said my goodbyes and hopped on the metro, beginning my long journey back to the West Island. My journey consisted of metroing to a station (which I will not disclose) where I had parked my car and then driving back to the west.

Halfway through the metro ride I knew there was no way I was going to make it all the way. Alone with my own thoughts and the ever increasing potential of soiling myself, I quickly considered my options. The metro itself definitely wasn’t an option, most stores or restaurants were closed… where could I go? I wracked my brain for a feasible solution.

Finally, I arrived at my station and I awkwardly speed-walked my way towards my car some blocks away. I felt myself beginning to prairie-dog and I knew it was an emergency that couldn’t wait any longer. I knew I had a Kleenex box in the car but did I really want to go outside? My body made that decision for me and I constructed a makeshift cover between my car itself and the open door of the front passenger side. I hung on for dear life to the handhold on the ceiling, squatting next to my car in the middle of the parking lot while my bowels turned themselves inside out.

Needless to say, I finished that up as quickly as possible and sped away under the deep cover of night, leaving only a steaming pile as a testament to my fatal dietary decisions.

Don’t worry though, it rained heavily the next morning so I’m sure it all worked out and there’s totally no way anyone could have stepped in that. Right?

If we all learn to make light of these humorous and most definitely human experiences we can all relate to (mostly), I think we’d, as a species, be a step closer to understanding each other no longer through a discourse of difference but through one of empathy. Or maybe that’s some pseudo-philosophical bullshit I pulled out of my ass faster than cheese curds go through me. Who knows?

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