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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Take a sh!t, don’t give one

<ned to actually focus on my Art History reading, but then remembered I had to use the bathroom. Our room is a divided triple with a bathroom attached. It’s a fine room, I guess, but I’m moving out soon for various reasons. One thing I like about it is the décor because I hung up everything on the walls. That’s why I agreed to live there in the first place: to have full control of wall space. But that seems unimportant when you consider the nuisance of having a bathroom.

Having an attached bathroom means if you leave for the right amount of time and don’t take a coat or put on your shoes, everyone knows why. Jason* was there at this point, not Marc who was at club soccer practice, but the same feelings apply. If I pooped on my floor, they—well, actually just Jason because Ryan was playing video games with his high-tech headset—would know what I had done. I would come back to the room thirty seconds after the flush. So Peep went to pee. But why didn’t she just use the bathroom in the—oh.

Nope, nope, nope. Maybe that’s something I’m still ashamed of. I thought I had fixed my shame when I was 15-17 when I did a bunch of therapy and came to terms with many things, but there were still major vestiges messing with my head.

I stood up from my desk and stretched. Jason was standing nearby looking at the wall. As I passed, he pointed to a lithograph. “Who’s this?”

“A random family. It’s an old photograph I got in Paris.”

“Oh.” He looked back at it, his slicked, waxed hair catching streaks of the washy white light.

Jason was working in our room because I told him I refused to go to the library. The light is worse there, and it was designed in the 50s. He has a heavy Chicago accent that borders on a speech impediment, and when he lived with my sister’s boyfriend’s Italian-Bolivian family in Austin, no one could apparently understand a word he said.

In the hallway, I tiptoed to the bathroom and cracked it open. Someone sounded like they were getting out of the shower. It’s a no-go. Can’t poop with anyone in there. The walls echo, I swear to God.

As I walked up the to the third floor, I thought thank God I won’t have to do this anymore. I’m moving out on Friday to a single in Parish. When I got onto the landing and open the door to the hallway, Liz popped out of her room. She shares it with Natasha and Becky, two of my close friends. She was abroad in Budapest last term, and has the most perfect skin you’ll ever see. She smells like absolutely nothing. Her hair is always up in a messy ponytail and she has no part at all. I like her well enough, even if she studies Comp Sci—she seems stable and entirely normal.

Despite this, I was not happy to see her. I knew it meant there was no way I could go to the bathroom, not with her having seen me. She would think, how strange Peep went to the bathroom on a different floor. She would know.

“Hey!” she says, slowing down and turning around.

“Hey!” We smiled at each other. I stood with my hand on the door to the staircase.

“What are you doing up here?” She suspected nothing. It’s normal to go to other floors, I reminded myself. “Is Becky here?”

“No, she’s not, I don’t think.”

“Oh, okay. Yeah. She might be – hm—” I knew she wasn’t there because twenty minutes earlier she asked me to study in the library with her. But I thought if I said that I knew Becky was in the library, then Liz may wonder why I went up to find her. “Oh well, too bad. See you!” I said.

“See you!” She replied, and continued down the hallway, and I went back down the stairs.

I haven’t gone to the bathroom yet. I heard someone in there before I receded into my room. I may never go. That was not the worst of my escapades, but it feels strange to run around, wanting to keep perfectly nice, normal people from knowing that I too, like everyone, poop. I don’t want to take pains to hide the facts of how I expel waste. This will be my act of rebellion.

But what am I hiding from? Exposure—of what? I talk openly about my hemorrhoids. I say “fuck me in the asshole!” when I lose things. I yell at my guy friends who refuse to consider receiving anal sex (internalized homophobia much?). I went to training to be a doula. I believe pads should be dispensed freely in every public bathroom on the planet. I’m a substitute nude model. Why can’t I poop where I please?

The hindrance is the image I project of myself, another, non-existent self who is a non-shitter. I want most people I don’t know well and most straight men to see this impossible self.

There is something about taking a crap that feels so lowly, so dirty. It’s mushy, useless, smelly. I’m not those things! Clean, crisp-edged, sugar-scented girls don’t poop. No one respectful does. What has happened to us is a strange paradox when something so human and unavoidable has become unavoidably inhuman.

I feel the need to announce my fart with an “I’m gonna fart,” but more often than not, I fart in private. The private sphere is a gassy, shitty place. We domesticate bodily functions. Is that civilization?

My dad said “that’s crass” after I farted and told him Benjamin Franklin once advised to “Fart proudly.” Maybe that’s why he was never president. I don’t even know if he wanted to be president. What I do know, however, is that whatever civilized thing is making me jump from floor to floor and seal my sphincter seems pretty wild to me.


*Names have been changed

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