World Water Day is March 22!

21 Mar

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Thirsty?  Want a glass of water?  Go get one.  Easy, right?  Most of us can simply walk to the nearest tap and drink what comes out.  Over a BILLION people in the world can’t do that.  They have no access to clean drinking water—as a result, 4,500 children die EVERY DAY.  

In 1993 the United Nations declared March 22 “World Water Day,” a day to bring awareness to the global water crisis.  This year’s theme is “The World is Thirsty Because We Are Hungry.”  I thought this was an odd theme before doing some research.  I thought I would just write a blog entry about how we all need to take shorter showers and follow the “if it’s yellow let it mellow; if it’s brown flush it down” philosophy. 

As with most crises the world faces, the elephant in the room is population growth.  There are a lot of people on the planet and only a finite amount of resources.  So what can we do?  This year the UN isn’t merely asking Westerners to turn off the tap while brushing their teeth—that kind of behavior is helpful, but it’s literally only a drop in the bucket. 

Most of us have become aware of the term “Carbon Footprint” in the past few years.  What is more surprising is the “Water Footprint” modern life impresses on the environment.  The majority of global water consumption isn’t from downing gallons of drinking water.  Agriculture is the main drain on the world’s water supply—farming accounts for over 90% of the world’s water consumption.  But we all need to eat.  In fact, most of our water intake actually comes from the foods we eat.  So how can we help mitigate water shortages and still feed the world? 

“Sustainable” is the new buzzword in the world of all things “Green” these days, but there’s a good reason for that.  We can’t simply siphon off the world’s resources indefinitely and expect that this behavior will “sustain” life as we know it.  That’s insane.  The principles of “sustainability” are especially applicable to water consumption.  One of the best things you can do to save water is going to sound really weird.  It’s a little more radical than turning off the faucet when you brush.  Brace yourself. 

Eat less meat.

Don’t freak out.  I didn’t say eat none.  Just less.  To produce one pound of beef it takes between 2,500 to 5,000 gallons of water.  To produce one pound of wheat it only takes 25 gallons.  Yep.  Grains and vegetables demand MUCH less water.

But take heart.  This behavior will not only lessen your individual impact on the environment and save water specifically, it will also help you personally.  Your overall health will improve.  Modern medicine backs this up—I’m not just some hippie telling you to hug a cow.  Google “Meat consumption and cancer” and see the scary stuff that pops up from reputable sources.  Yikes!

So eat less meat.  Your prostate and colon will thank you.  And you’ll lessen your “Water Footprint.” 

Happy World Water Day!

For more information on World Water Day visit http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday/

Are you now depressed about the world’s water crisis?  Need a laugh? Buy Flush This Book and not only will you laugh, but you’ll be donating to two great organizations that help improve sanitation and access to clean water world wide.  We will donate a portion of our proceeds to the World Toilet Organization and DefeatDD.

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Poopy Pinkie Update

5 Mar

A dog with infinite patience is a treasure.

Children are impressionable and are firm advocates of the Monkey-See-Monkey-Do philosophy of life.  As parents, we’re aware of these facts, but there are still moments when we’re taken by surprise. 

My little Phoebe has been my frequent sidekick on trips to the vet with our dog Gretzky.  The most recent one, however, had quite an impact on her curiosity and penchant for reenactment.  I was folding laundry last week in the master bedroom when my daughter walked in and handed me a small hairbrush she has had since infancy.

“Mommy, can you please wash this hairbrush?  It stinks.”

I sized up the manner in which she held the thing—pinching the portion that housed the bristles between her thumb and forefinger with one hand, pinching her nose shut with the other. 

“Why does it stink?” I asked. 

“Because it was in Gretzky’s butt.” 

Phoebe offered this explanation without fanfare, and without the laughter that would accompany such an outrageous statement if it were meant as a joke.  I eyed the hairbrush suspiciously.  The evidence I was hoping not to find was streaked on the otherwise white handle—only a smear of light brown, but enough to let inquiring minds know where it had been.  The dog came into view of the bedroom’s doorframe.  He looked okay, but he was sporting those “Help Me” eyes I have seen many times since my daughter’s birth four years ago.

“Why was the hairbrush in Gretzky’s butt?”  I asked, still a little fazed that I had occasion to utter the words.

“Because I was pretending to take his temperature like the vet did,” Phoebe answered in a tone that implied I should have known this already. 

“Phoebe, only the vet is allowed to take Gretzky’s temperature.  Do you understand?  I know you wanted to pretend you were helping Gretzky, but you are not allowed to put anything in the dog’s butt.  Nothing goes in Gretzky’s butt.  Nothing,” I still could not believe the necessity of the conversation.

Phoebe, looking visibly disappointed, turned on her heel and went to sulk in her room.

And I went to the bathroom with the hairbrush.  And some bleach.

Top 5 Ways Bathroom Behavior Keeps the Romance Alive

15 Feb

(This might be a day late – Sorry Jane! – but the advice is still relevant. Enjoy!)

5. Keep the bathroom supplied with soft toilet paper and plenty of flushable wipes.

There are some grocery items one can be stingy about and compromise by purchasing off-brands.  Toilet paper is NOT one of them.  Don’t skimp.  I once had a coupon for a cheaper brand of toilet paper and my ass paid for it.  I couldn’t wait to be done with that last scratchy roll.  Flushable wipes are also indispensible.  If you are unaware of why, then you have missed the boat.  Pick some up during your next shopping trip and then try to live without them.  How does this help in the romance department?  ‘Freshening up’ becomes quick, easy and efficient.  Afternoon Delight becomes reality. Enough said.

4. Apple Cinnamon air freshener.  Everything else just smells like flowers and ass.  If you live with your  partner then this is a necessity.  Nothing kills the mood like walking into a wall of funk your loved one has left behind.

3. Gentleman: Seat Down!  After sitting waist deep in watered down urine at 3 in the morning I will probably not be up for a round of morning nookie.

2. Farting is not a viable bed-warming option.  Decompress the gas chamber before you come to bed—preferably in the bathroom where there is a healthy stock of apple cinnamon spray.

1. Keep the bathroom door closed.  And locked.   Couples that crap together do not stay together—they just turn into dysfunctional sibling relationships where one tries to one-up the other in the gross-out department.  And while comparing the length and girth of bowel movements can be fun and funny, it’s definitely not romantic.

That being said, READING funny stories about OTHER people’s bodily malfunctions is totally acceptable.   So cuddle up with a copy of Flush This Book and your loved one – laughter is the best aphrodisiac of all!

 

In Honor of Whitney Houston: Short Story, Fold and Wipe

12 Feb

Listened to this album so much, I had to buy a new cassette after wearing out the first one.

We were sad to learn of Whitney Houston’s untimely passing and wanted to honor her amazing life by sharing with you a story from Flush This Book that references a Whitney Houston song in it.  We both have fond memories of growing up with Whitney Houston singing competitions between sisters and belting out her songs into our hair brushes.  Here’s hoping she’s in a happier place now, is singing with the angels and won’t mind her fans enjoying a little potty humor to make the pain of her passing a little easier.

Fold and Wipe

“Your body is going through changes.  You know about these changes…?”  I could have died.  Right there.  Seriously.  The last thing a thirteen-year-old wants to hear her grandmother talk about is growing breasts and bleeding from “you know where.”

My legs were twitching, and I dug my nails into the wood grain of the bench we shared.  Rice Krispies from that morning’s breakfast threatened in the back of my throat as she continued.

“It’s beautiful really. Amazing. And you’ll be able to have a baby because of all of it.”

Dogwood.  Japanese Cherry.  Hickory.  I searched the trees to busy my brain and keep myself from hurling.  She went on for an interminable amount of time about the lining of the uterus and ovulation until she finally came to her point, which was, in keeping with our theme, labored.

“Stephanie… did you by any chance…flush a Kotex down the toilet?”   Oh. My. God.  This is what she was getting at all this time?  It couldn’t have been a more uncomfortable, shitty day.  Literally.

Every spring break, my mother dropped us off with our grandparents.  They were our Camp, and they were fine with it.  My sister, Terrilyn, and I loved to spend time with them, despite their idiosyncrasies, like talking to us about the wonders of the body and the proper methods for handling toilet paper.

My grandfather is notorious in our family for his OCD about frugality, cleanliness, hygiene and etiquette.  He once read us a chapter out of Emily Post’s famous etiquette bible to defend his insistence that we eat French fries with a fork.  So, when he burst into the bathroom impromptu and gave my sister and me a lesson about how to wipe our rear-ends while conserving enough toilet paper to decorate the neighbor’s trees, we were not surprised.  We just took a deep breath and coped.

“Don’t take any paper off the roll until you’re finished,” he said with sternness and authority.  “You want to assess what kind of movement you’ve had.  You never want to overestimate how much you’ll need.”

My sister cleared her throat a little to keep from losing it.  I avoided eye contact with her at all costs.

“Only pull off five sheets.”  My grandfather buys single ply.  “The secret to conserving toilet paper is to fold and wipe.”  And then he demonstrated to drive the point home.

Pulling off five fresh sheets, he folded the banner lengthwise and actually pantomimed his fold and wipe philosophy.  He didn’t run the paper across his bum directly, but he did graze cheek, albeit through his red and green plaid polyester slacks.

“Fold. And wipe.  Fold.  And wipe.”

A kind of syncopated rhythm emerged from his sing-song mantra and corresponding gesticulations.  It was too much.  I could feel my lip quiver with the first convulsions of a laughing fit.  My sister cleared her throat again, and I recovered.

Always the pragmatist, Grandpa concluded our lesson by taking the now tiny square of toilet paper and wiping some water droplets from the counter, leftovers from our tooth-brushing session that had ended just moments before our commode tissue education.  I couldn’t help noticing that the tissue was more than damp when he chucked it in the wastebasket.  The implications almost activated my gag reflex.

We salvaged the day by shaking off the hygiene lesson and heading down to the dock to stick our feet in the lake. As the day waned, I realized that I hadn’t had my morning constitutional, so when lunch rolled around and my grandmother offered a bran muffin for dessert, I uncharacteristically took her up on it.

It worked.

The fiber kicked in at an inopportune moment when I was in the shower.  I hate taking a dump after I shower.  It is always preferable to feel it coming on before you shower, thus maximizing the squeaky-clean of the post-shower aura.  But not this day.

While my sister, who was still naked from her shower, sang Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” into her toothbrush, I was experiencing the horrors of what I refer to simply as “the shower fart.”  Your own gas mingles with the steam, and no matter how much soap you use, nothing prevents the stink from clinging to your skin.

Admitting defeat, I turned off the water, pulled the curtain back to air out the area, and took my place on the porcelain throne with the intent to rinse off post-movement.   Feeling optimistic, I even joined in a chorus of Whitney’s mind-numbing tune as my sister polished off the song through the suds of toothpaste foaming around her mouth like a beard.  After we had sufficiently butchered the pop song, she rinsed out her mouth.  I finished pushing.  I folded.  I wiped.  I folded.  I wiped.  I flushed.

And then, as they say, the shit hit the fan….

Well, it hit the floor, actually.  There was a difference in the flush’s cadence; I knew something was wrong.  My sister and I hovered over the toilet, two naked helicopters praying that the rising water would stop before cresting over the edges of the bowl.  Apparently, God had more important crap to take care of, because my crap not only rose to the top of the porcelain, but cascaded over the sides and onto the floor.

“No. Noooo,” I instructed the fetid water, but it paid no heed to my whimpering pleas.  As the brown puddle expanded, my sister grabbed a towel and in true turncoat fashion announced, “I’m telling Grandma!”   She scrambled out of the bathroom door that took her through our bedroom, then a hallway, then the stairs, then to Grandma.  I felt my throat closing and my pulse quickening.

“Oh, noooo!  Stop!  Please stop!”  But, as the bumper sticker proclaims, “shit happens,” and yelling at it doesn’t slow its agenda.

I looked at the other bathroom door that led out to the den and considered closing it; maybe I thought a closed door would contain the river of poop.  When I realized this was fruitless, I employed the equally fruitless strategy of closing my eyes and telling myself to wake up from this nightmare. When I opened them, my grandma, armed with a plunger, was standing in the open doorway my sister had fled through just seconds before.

Grandma’s eyes were wide.  Scary wide.  I didn’t realize just how much white could surround an iris until I saw her like that.

“Put on a T-shirt and put the bath towels on the floor around the toilet!” she barked, and I obeyed at breakneck speed.

Terrilyn materialized, still wrapped in a towel, in the other bathroom doorway opposite my Grandma.

“Go get your Grandpa and a stack of newspapers from the garage!” she ordered, her shrill Brooklyn accent coming through strong, even after a decade of South Carolina retirement.   This wasn’t good news, as anger always accentuated her roots.  This phenomenon was how you knew she was really pissed.  And she hissed more than spoke through clenched teeth.  Oh, yeah….and the spooky wide eyes.  It wasn’t pretty.  I knew I was in trouble; I didn’t need to hear all three of my given names screamed at fever pitch to understand this.

While Terrilyn ran to get Grandpa, I tried in vain to mop up the muddy puddles that were spreading rapidly across the floor.  My grandmother, although nimble in her seventies, was on her hands and knees aiding me in our vain attempt to sequester the sewage.  No one wants to be responsible for making an old lady sop up their crap on their hands and knees.  I could feel myself starting to cry; what was worse was that when I instinctively tried to wipe the tears away I was nearly knocked unconscious by the stench that was now coating my hands.

Grandma and I fumbled around in an awkward silence interrupted by an ominous popping sound that ushered in an equally ominous gurgling.  The odor intensified as snot-colored sludge oozed up from the drains in the sink and the tub, filling both receptacles with its viscous nastiness that foreshadowed my certain doom.  And then Grandpa arrived on the scene.

He took one look at the slime in the sink, in the tub and the floor and exclaimed, “What the fuck is that?”

“It’s shit Tom!  It’s shit!”

This exchange made me cry audibly now.  Never in my life had I heard either of my grandparents swear.

I had done this to them.  Surely I was going to hell now.

And I was particularly preoccupied by the afterlife at the moment because I knew someone was going to kill me for this.  If not my grandparents, then my mother would finish me off when she found out what havoc I had wreaked in her absence.  And then a new horror crept into my brain.  How was I going to pay for this damage?  I had no job, no money.  Yes; they would kill me for sure, if only for the bit of insurance money I heard you get when your child dies.

Grandpa looked around the room, eyes as wide as Grandma’s; he was flustered and didn’t even know where to begin.  He surveyed the damage.  His mouth moved and guttural sounds issued from his crinkled lips as his hands opened and shut like he wanted to ball them into fists and pummel something.  Then he glared at me and boomed, “How much toilet paper did you use?”

“I didn’t…not a lot…I swear,” I bawled.

“I thought I told you to FOLD and WIPE!” he shouted.

Then he went silent, turned on his heel and exited the door that lead to the den, presumably to get tools or a telephone.

From the opposite door that opened into the bedroom, my sister came sprinting, a stack of newspapers blocking her view.  She overestimated how much carpet she had left to run on before hitting the tile, and hit the tile she did.

As soon as her barefoot heel made contact with the bathroom floor, she slipped, sending hundreds of newspaper pages into the air.  She was airborne for a moment before crashing squarely on her bare ass in the middle of a substantial poop puddle, whose slimy lubrication sent her sailing across the entire length of the bathroom before dumping her out of the other open door and into the den.  Had I not been crying, it would have been the most hysterical thing I’ve ever seen.  She was completely stunned, and completely covered in crap.

Her towel had come off during her nasty ‘slip and slide’ stunt and she sat there, naked as the day she was born, painted in excrement.  Her eyes welled up as she grabbed her towel and tried to recover.

“Go jump in the lake!” my Grandma howled.  And Terrilyn exited the sliding glass doors of the den to do just that.  It may have been the first time in history that someone actually followed that prescription.

My Grandpa reappeared after a few minutes, announcing that the septic tank specialist would be arriving in thirty minutes.  I prayed and prayed for the sewage to stop flowing.  It did, but not before spilling over the side of the bathtub, just enough to make me hyperventilate.  You see, mixed among the liters of poo I could see, very clearly, a lot, and I mean a lot, of toilet paper.

Oh God.  Intellectually I knew that there was no conceivable way I could have used that much toilet paper in the five days I had been at their house, but I didn’t think Grandpa would believe me.  I had folded and wiped.  Of this I was certain.  But I may have used seven sheets instead of five.  Was he going to go through the entire cesspool and count the sheets?  The possibility sent me packing.

As my grandparents continued to maneuver newspapers and towels and grumble about the cleanup costs, I slinked out into the bedroom, slipped on a pair of shorts and shoes and high-tailed it out of there.

In the garage, I hooked a leash onto my dog Samantha, who always came with us on these trips, and took her out with me.  Where we were headed I had no idea.  Just far away from ground zero.  I thought about jobs I could do when I got back home to make money to pay them back.  I thought of how terrible my mother would feel for sending her child to her parents’ house only to have her blow up the toilet.

I walked and cried and thought about my fate for a couple of hours before the dog lay down on the road, panting and tired.  Samantha had been peeing every five minutes and now had nothing left, but she was also dehydrated, which made me cry that much harder.

Great, I thought, not only did I destroy three bathroom fixtures and possibly an entire septic tank, but now I’m killing the family dog.  I might win granddaughter AND daughter of the year.  What the hell is wrong with me?

I scooped up all thirteen pounds of our mutt, did an about face and trudged back to the house to face the music, which turned out to be a very painful rendition of the birds and the bees.

“Stephanie… did you by any chance…flush a Kotex down the toilet?”  My Grandma looked right at me, pursed her lips and waited.

“Grandma, I haven’t even started my period yet.”

“Oh.”

And that was the end of that nightmarish little conversation.

We walked back into the house together and left Samantha in the garage to down a bucket of fresh water.  The dog didn’t let me pet her for three days.

Grandma and I joined Grandpa and Terri to see what progress had been made.  The serviceman was explaining to my Grandpa how a fissure in the outbound pipe leading to the septic tank was defective and had cracked long ago.  Over the past ten years, toilet paper had been collecting in the crack, like plaque in an artery, until finally the pipe was so clogged that sewage backed up into the house in one massive crap attack.

The serviceman said what had happened was inevitable.  Apparently I had won some lottery in Hell, in which the winning flush sent a fountain of liquid shit flooding into your life.

“So it wasn’t me?”  I asked the repairman meekly.

“No, sweetheart, it was going to happen to the next person who flushed, regardless of who that was.”

Relief and vindication washed over me like absolution from Heaven.  Maybe God would forgive me for making my grandparents swear.

My mother wouldn’t kill me after all.  Maybe I would even hear that rarest of all utterances in my family: the Grandpa apology.

And then he opened his mouth.  I braced myself for it.

“Remember.  Always. Fold. And wipe.”

 

 

Poopy Pinkie

4 Feb
Butt covers for dogs to protect those fingers!

Maybe Gretzky can wear one of these butt covers next time. (find them at etsy!)

Recently my dog Gretzky was diagnosed with Cushings Disease.  Don’t start crying or anything—it’s totally treatable and he will be fine.  But we didn’t know that two weeks ago when I took both the dog and my four-year-old to the veterinary specialist exam that would determine whether or not he had the more vicious form of the disease caused by cancerous tumors on the adrenal glands.  This was a serious vet visit, so I had read my daughter the riot act while we awaited the arrival of the vet in the exam room.

“Mommy needs to talk with the doctor about Gretzky.  This is very important for his health.  I need to listen to him very carefully because Mommy and Daddy are going to have to make decisions that will help him and I need all the information Gretzky’s doctor will give me to make those decisions.  Do you understand?”

“I should be quiet,” little Phoebe answered.

“Yes.  Do not interrupt unless it is an absolute emergency.”

“Like having to poop right away or if I’m sick?”

“Yes, Phoebe.  Those count as emergencies.  But you’re not sick and you pooped this morning, so I think you’ll be able to sit quietly.”

The vet arrived on the scene and checked Gretzky out—thoroughly.  This included a generous dose of lube for my poor dog’s ass and an invasive rectal exam.  I felt so bad for the pup that I forgot to ask why the procedure was even necessary.

The vet droned on about the need for an ultrasound and the possibility of tumors and the risks of surgery.  About ten minutes into his diatribe my daughter tugged at my sleeve with that special brand of annoying notorious among children.

“Mommy, Mommy,” she hissed in her version of a whisper that always precludes any real hope for privacy.  “I have an emergency.”

“Do you need to puke?”  I asked this in a tone devoid of sympathy but ramped up in the scolding department.

Phoebe shook her head no.

“Do you need to use the bathroom urgently?”

Phoebe shook her head no.

“Then whatever you need to say can wait.”  I turned to the vet, “I am so sorry.  Please continue.”

And he did.  And so did Phoebe’s interruptions.  She tried patting my knee gently and hissing my first name when ‘Mommy’ wasn’t eliciting so much as a glance from me.

Then she resorted to making noises.  She emitted low groans that sounded like she was either trying to hold in an explosive fart or was inhaling the consequences of one.

The vet and I ignored her and continued to discuss Gretzky’s fate.  This was difficult as the progression of noises grew stranger, mostly resembling an ancient door creaking on its hinges while being opened one excruciating millimeter at a time.

By the time the vet left the room, I was fuming.

“Okay Phoebe.  What was so important that you needed to be so rude for the past forty minutes?”

She held up the pinky of her right hand.  “The reason I was interrupting is because Gretzky backed into me while you guys were talking and my pinky got stuck in his butt.  It was in there for a long time.  His butt is really wet and disgusting today.  Anyway, I got it out without you.  Can I go wash my finger?”

I was speechless.  Incredulous.  The dog just sat there wagging his tail—no longer suffering from unsolicited anal probing.  Phoebe’s finger was coated in a dubious slime tinged with what Crayola might have dubbed ‘burnt sienna.’

My stomach churned a bit and I cupped my mouth with my hand, but my disgust quickly dissolved into a fit of laughter that my daughter participated in for a good four minutes.

But then we went and washed that pinky.  And then washed it again.

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