GC and I are celebrating our first anniversary today! Even though life has thrown a crazy series of calamities our way lately, as GC puts it, “For a bad year, it’s been a pretty good year.”
And he’s right, it has. We’ve had a lot of good things happen to us too, especially falling in love. If I had to choose between changing everything that has happened over the past year and changing nothing, I’d cheerfully change nothing.
Speaking of good things, some kind friends lent us their cottage for the weekend, and we spent a lovely lazy weekend without any interruptions, including self-imposed ones. As much as we both love the internet, it was a refreshing change not having it at our fingertips.
We spent hours on Sunday sitting in a porch swing, me knitting a baby sweater and GC reading a book out loud. The birds sang and the breeze played in the trees, and we swung gently in the dappled sunlight, and life felt perfectly uncomplicated.
My legs only hurt when I walked, so I mostly just triangulated between the futon, the porch swing and the outhouse.
Speaking of outhouses, this was the nicest one I’ve ever been in. It smelled good, and it had a big window looking into the forest, so it wasn’t dark and creepy like most outhouses.
I was introduced to outhouses when I was about six years old and we were visiting somebody’s cottage. The hostess showed us our bedroom, and pulled a metal basin from under the bed.
“This,” she announced, ” is the chamberpot!”
I looked to my big sister for an explanation and she looked to Mom.
Our hostess, seeing our puzzled faces, explained.
“If you have to go to the bathroom after bedtime, you go in here.”
If I thought that was bizarre, it was nothing compared to the outhouse. She led us down a path to a wooden hut. It was so small I thought it must be a playhouse, until she opened the door and the most revolting odor came billowing out. The only thing in there was a toilet seat on a bench, millions of flies, and dozens of giant hairy spiders with thick muscular legs. It was beyond disgusting.
“During the day,” she said pleasantly, “you go to the bathroom in here.”
What?? She couldn’t be serious! I was appalled.
I put off using the outhouse as long as humanly possible but eventually I had no choice. (I don’t know why it never occurred to me to just go in the bushes, but it didn’t.) I ran down the path, held my breath, stepped inside, and made the fatal mistake of peering down the hole. It was worse than I had imagined. But I desperately had to pee. I latched the door shut, and the outhouse became pitch black, save for a sliver of light coming in from the crescent moon cutout high up on the door. The buzz of the flies was awful and I imagined snakes biting my bum while I peed. A spiderweb brushed against my arm and petrified me.
It was with enormous relief that I finally burst out of the outhouse, and gulped some uncontaminated air. (Remember, I had been holding my breath the whole time so I wouldn’t have to inhale the stench of the festering pit of poo.)
That evening at suppertime, I was picking at my meal in my usual picky-eater way when someone mentioned that the meat was delicious, what kind was it?
“Rabbit,” replied our hostess. My fork froze and I lifted my eyes to look at her. She had to be joking, right? People don’t eat rabbits. People don’t eat animals. I wondered if she was one of those grown-ups who think it’s funny to see how gullible kids are. But she hadn’t been kidding about the outhouse, and she didn’t look like she was kidding now.
I put my fork down.
“Don’t you like it?” she asked.
“I don’t eat animals,” I said.
“Sure you do,” she replied, “You eat hamburgers, don’t you?”
“Hamburgers aren’t animals,” I said.
“Hamburgers are cows!” she said.
I didn’t believe it until my mother confirmed it.
“And you eat bacon, don’t you?” asked the woman.
I loved bacon.
“Pigs!” laughed the woman.
My mother nodded.
I had been eating pigs and cows all my life and nobody had told me? I lost my appetite. I felt sick.
By now I thoroughly disliked our hostess, seeing her as some kind of barbaric freak who peed in a pot under the bed, ate bunny rabbits, and had a filthy house full of rotting poo instead of a regular bathroom.
Speaking of poo, the next day I had to go, but couldn’t bear the thought of spending that long in the outhouse. I couldn’t hold my breath that long.
All day long I worried about the impending poo.
Late in the afternoon I whispered to my mom that I was sick and was going to bed.
I climbed into bed, waited a few minutes, then got up and pooped in the chamberpot. It felt weird and wrong, but it was so much better than the alternative. Then I slid the chamberpot under the bed and climbed back into bed. Of course it stunk, but nowhere near as bad as the million festering poos in the outhouse.
My mom came in to check on me a little later and it took her about three seconds to figure out what had happened and why. Nobody was very impressed with me for pooping in the chamberpot, but that was a small price to pay for the privilege of not pooping in the outhouse.