Tag Archives: Bathroom

Matt the Plumber

(Image courtesy of Emergency Plumber Boston.)

(Image courtesy of Emergency Plumber Boston.)

I looked the part. Jeans and a tee shirt. A wrench and a bucket.

But the universe knows I’m not really a handyman, outside of the kitchen or bedroom. I’m more of a helper. Like Al on Tool Time.

It’s not that I can’t fix or install things. On a case-by-case basis, I can. I just generally require at least one more trip to the hardware store than a regular person.

I’ve installed a dishwasher that only leaked once, a garbage disposal that has miraculously never failed me, some lattice on my deck that lasted a solid five years before falling off, a flat-panel television by my basement bar with minimal wall damage, and I once fixed a washing machine. It still totally works. Seriously!

Bucket in hand, I was all ready to go. I would have charged myself $80 an hour, but I didn’t even have my ass crack showing, so I was like: I’m not paying this impostor.

“Hey Matt! What happened to your sink!?!?”

I’m so glad you asked.

You know the little plunger on the backs of faucets that move drain plugs up and down? Yeah, I somehow disconnected mine from that mechanism on the sink in one of my bathrooms and have never figured out how to fix it, so I just never did.

I needed to plug the sink to do some bathroom hygiene stuff which I really, desperately, want to tell you was because I fill up the sink to shave so I can conserve water responsibly while shaving my two-day stubble that took four days to grow.

But that’s not the reason. It’s because I needed to clean a plugged ear. (Hot, right? You eating lunch? Mmm. Don’t worry, this gets slightly grosser.)

So I press down the plug and let the sink fill up with water while I do what needs done.

It’s time to unplug the drain, only the little plunger-majingy on the faucet isn’t working, because duh, bitch, it doesn’t work!

Crap. How am I going to get this drain unplugged?

I ran downstairs and grabbed one of my old steak knives I would never be able to use again and tried jimmying it into the space between the plug and the drain surround.

It was an ineffective strategy, but I kept trying it over and over and swearing a little. The swearing didn’t help.

Hmmm.

A moment of genius.

Got it!

I grabbed the toilet plunger, because I’m totally brilliant and I figured I could create enough vacuum suction to force the drain up that way.

Three things happened really fast.

The first thing that happened was epic failure as my shitty plan didn’t even almost work. The drain didn’t budge.

The second thing that happened was that all of the totally disgusting bacteria and mildew that lives inside not-well-cleaned toilet plungers totally contaminated my predominately clean sink water, save for the remnants of my successful ear-cleaning procedure.

The third thing that happened is despite almost throwing up in my mouth, I tried the shitty plunger idea a few more times to see if it would work, and it never did, but some of the dysentery water splashed up on my vanity and got all over my toothbrush which I promptly threw in the trash and lit on fire.

The sink was winning.

I needed to think. And find a new toothbrush. And a new place to brush.

I knew I was going to have to disconnect the drain pipe and hit it from underneath (giggity), but that seemed like a lot of work and since I hadn’t contracted malaria or toilet-plunger gonorrhea yet, I wanted to give it a little more brainstorming and disease-marinating time.

Finally, it was last night, and my son would be home the following and there’s no way I could let him see this, so it was time to take action.

A ladybug had already found its way into the disgusting water and had fortunately died instead of turning into a giant flying Toxic Crusader insect that tried to hump my mouth while I slept.

Armed with my wrench and bucket, I pulled out everything stored beneath the sink, situated the bucket and went to work on disconnecting the drainpipe.

Turns out, whoever plumbed the sink installed fittings that could relatively easily be unscrewed by hand, so my wrench was totally for show. I disconnected the drain, pushed the plug out with a screwdriver from underneath, and watched my hand get some AIDS water on it but somehow not shrivel up and disappear. All that remained in the sink was a black ring of filth and horribleness.

I went to work with disinfectant and napalm, cleaned up, put everything away and admired a job well done that maybe took 15 minutes altogether. Even with the napalm.

What that means is I “brainstormed” ideas to fix my sink for 48 hours to try to avoid doing it “the hard way.” The hard way which only took 15 minutes.

It was a missed opportunity.

At $80 an hour, I would have been almost $4,000 richer.

And probably rocked some wicked-hot plumber’s crack.

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The Jesuit Standoff

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This might be a Jesuit Standoff about to happen. Photo by Neil Beckerman via Getty Images.

Pooping embarrasses me more than almost anything.

You might say I suffer from a super-minor form of parcopresis. It’s not full-blown psychogenic fecal retention. I’m physically able to defecate even in a worst-case scenario.

My mind is telling me “No.”

But my body… my body’s… telling me “Yes.”

I go to great lengths to avoid Matt-has-to-poop detection from others. The thinking seems to be that if they know I poop, they will think me smelly and disgusting and not like me.

“Hey Matt! Are you throwing a party for your birthday?”

“I don’t know. Maybe.”

“Maybe!?!? Why wouldn’t you?”

“What if people don’t come? That would be so embarrassing.”

“Why wouldn’t people come?”

“Well. I don’t know if you’ve heard. But, um. Sometimes I poop.”

“ … ”

“Don’t just stare at me. Say something!”

“Matt. Everybody poops.”

“No way.”

*Brain explodes*

Real-Time Poop Update

About mid-morning, I snuck off to poop in my office building. More often than not, the room is empty. This is good. Very good.

I saw a guy walk in before me. I gambled. I can sneak into a stall without being spotted.

Right when I walked in the room, a guy I know exited one of the stalls.

Boom.

Stealth mission: aborted.

I played it off like I only had to pee and made small talk about the weather with the guy who had recently finished pooping. Not one time during the conversation did I judge him for his biological tendencies. But my instinct was to pretend I wasn’t jealous of him.

I left and returned to my desk to sit in discomfort.

Sometimes, I will go to a separate floor. I know a bathroom in the building that is rarely used and if the likelihood of getting busted seems high in the nearest bathroom, I’ll retreat to that location.

This is not sane. I can’t explain it.

Why?

I don’t know.

I. Don’t. Know.

No one has ever poop-shamed me. At least not that I can remember. But I’ve always been REALLY shy about this. I don’t think any amount of reflection will find the root of this problem.

During the early years of my elementary school experience, the stalls in the boys bathroom didn’t have doors on them. I didn’t like that. It was weird for me to have people look at me while I was pooping. I was equally uncomfortable making eye contact with other poopers.

Maybe my own insecurities are why I made fun of The Dump Kid®.

So, to be sure, it’s NOT simply a phobia related to my desire for women to not think me gross and ugly.

But that is a really big factor.

“Please Don’t Go In There.”

I can’t even begin to tell you how bad my timing was.

What seems like an exceedingly high percentage of the time, my wife would need to go in the bathroom I had just used, or was currently occupying.

I hated this.

Some guys are the proud-to-fart types. I am not. I think it’s a tad disgusting. Every single fart let loose in the company of someone who wasn’t a gross guy friend or my son was done 100-percent by accident.

One of my biggest fears in my newly single life is that I’m going to end up spending the night with a girl after a long night of beer drinking. A bunch of draft beer works the opposite of Gas-X (Note to self: Stock up on that stuff.)

So, she wakes up in the morning to my bed head, looking my grossest, with eye boogers and bad breath, looking infinitely less sexy than she remembered from the low-light beer goggles at the bar or party or whatever the night before.

And I’m farting.

Good God.

The thought makes me shudder. I’m not kidding. I literally shuddered.

I didn’t think my wife needed any help thinking I was unattractive. I tried really hard not to be gross. I don’t know whether she appreciated that. Obviously, in the end, it proved somewhat irrelevant.

The Jesuit Standoff

I didn’t coin this amazing term. A guy who is a co-worker and friend said he coined it at his last job. And it’s so spectacular, I choose to roll with it.

The Jesuit Standoff is something that happens with two people suffering from quasi-parcopresis, like me.

You’re sitting side-by-side. You don’t know who the other person is. You can only see their shoes and the bottom of their pants.

Who will make the first move?

This is a two-stage standoff.

Stage One involves who will actually commit the act of pooping first. There are beautiful moments in the pooping experience where it can be done quickly and stealthily. These are blessings and I say a grateful prayer of thanks every time this happens.

Other times, it’s less graceful. Less covert to both the olfactory and auditory senses. Sometimes, biology wins the day. But if it can wait, the true parcopresis sufferer will wait until the coast is clear. And once in a while that means trying to outwait the guy next to you.

A standoff. A Jesuit Standoff.

Stage Two involves the great escape. This is the trickiest part of a stealth pooping mission. So much can go wrong during the cleaning, flushing, zipping and straightening-up process.

Hurry, hurry, hurry! Someone could walk in any second!

The reason this matters, is because I will NEVER intentionally leave a bathroom stall if there are other people in the room, unless circumstances (time) dictate that I must, or I’m in some super-weird place out of town with a bunch of strangers and don’t care because I’ll never see them again.

But if I did it here among familiar faces?

“Oh my God!!! There’s Matt exiting the stall!!! He pooped!!! He’s so gross!!! I’m going to send an email about this to everyone in the building!!!” they must always be thinking and plotting.

I don’t like it.

I don’t like people thinking I’m gross and smelly.

This happened a few days ago. A Jesuit Standoff. In my super-secret bathroom, of all places. It only took me about 10 minutes to realize the truth: This guy’s a pro. And he’s going to win.

One of my favorite moments that happens within the safe cocoon of the bathroom stall is when I hear people come into the bathroom, notice that all the stalls are full, and then just wash their hands as if they had only come into the bathroom for that reason. It makes me laugh every time.

The reason I know they’re doing this—this play-it-off-like-I-don’t-have-to-poop move—is because it’s EXACTLY what I do.

*facepalm*

How Not to Communicate

My social anxiety on this topic is highly irrational.

After all, you poop. Yes, YOU. *points and laughs* Gross person!

I kid.

When I really think about it, I submit this is the single weirdest thing I do. I’m almost 35 years old. And I insanely sneak around trying to pretend I never poop. It’s ridiculous.

I think we do this in our relationships, too.

I say that, because I did. And if I did, there’s a slight possibility that some of you do the same thing.

We keep silly secrets from those we love. Because we fear rejection with them in the same way we don’t want our friends and co-workers to know we’re pooping. Only the stakes are higher and our sex appeal is on the line.

There are things I didn’t tell my wife about. Things that, had I just been more upfront with her, I think might have made our lives better. But I was too scared.

Like a Jesuit Standoff.

Fear is such a worthless and debilitating emotion. But we all get scared, and that’s okay.

What’s NOT okay is hiding things from those we love—especially when irrational fear of rejection is involved.

We need to be honest and open about what’s inside of us if we want to share a life with someone. We can’t live in the shadows.

We need to live in the light. Walking hand in hand.

We need only be courageous enough to share more of ourselves. To be more vulnerable. To take a leap of faith. The following rejection or acceptance would tell you all you need to know about your relationship’s future, anyway.

What’s the future of our relationship? You and me.

You know… now that you know that I poop?

You probably think that I’m smelly and gross. And I’m sorry. I don’t want to be that.

But I’m taking a leap of faith.

That you and I can still have a next time despite this biological inconvenience.

Only one way to find out.

*PUBLISH*

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Confessions from my Past: The Dump Kid

It was supposed to be private. A safe haven. But then I had to be a dick.

It was supposed to be private. A safe haven. But then I had to be a dick.

When I was in eighth grade, I gave a kid a horrible nickname that people still remember today.

I called him The Dump Kid.

Let me explain why.

The small Catholic school I attended added a new wing just before I started junior high. So the seventh and eighth grade kids were mostly segregated from the rest of the school.

We had our own lockers. Our own classrooms. Our own bathrooms.

And that’s how I noticed him.

This little, awkward kid with high-water pants and an awful cowlick.

We would mill about in the morning out in the halls until the bell rang for homeroom to start. Every day.

And I don’t recall exactly when I noticed the pattern. But I did.

Every morning before class started, this out-of-place fifth grader would shuffle his way down to the bathroom outside the junior high classrooms. And no one takes THAT long to pee.

I had sufficient evidence to conclude that Joe—that’s his name, Joe—was pooping in the junior high bathroom every single day.

It was his poop schedule. I get it now. I’m an adult. Some people have poop schedules. Twenty years later, most people are mature enough not to call attention to it. It’s one of those things we just don’t talk about.

And believe me. I understand. If you’ve been reading for any length of time, you know how neurotic I am. In first and second grade, my school bathroom didn’t have doors on the stalls. I wouldn’t even go unless it was a Come-to-Jesus situation.

When I was a little older—maybe in fifth grade—I was at a friend’s house who had a little half bathroom located on a small landing that you passed when you walked down to the basement. Totally exposed. One time I was pooping in there when my friend’s gorgeous older sister walked in from the side door that came in from the outside.

I wanted to die. But I never had a chance with her anyway.

Even today, at age 34, I won’t exit a bathroom stall at work if others are in there. It’s too embarrassing.

Oh, look! There’s Matt coming out of the stall! He pooped! What a smelly, disgusting person he is!, they must all be thinking.

This is one of the few areas of life where I believe women have it better than men.

So, back to The Dump Kid.

His biological schedule dictated that he have a bowel movement every morning before school started. And he chose to do it in the junior high wing. Under the watchful and judgmental eye of one particular asshole: Me.

I started telling friends about it.

“Hey, check this out. There’s The Dump Kid,” I said.

“The Dump Kid?” they said.

“Yes. The Dump Kid. He comes down every single day and takes a dump. Just watch,” I said.

And we did.

He’d go in the bathroom. And come out after several minutes. We knew he pooped. We laughed and judged.

Word spread of The Dump Kid’s morning poop adventures.

It wasn’t long before dozens of kids were monitoring The Dump Kid’s excrement-dropping activities.

The Dump King

Some years later, in college, I bumped into someone I’d gone to school with who was a few years younger than me.

And for reasons beyond my understanding, he mentioned The Dump King.

“Who the hell is The Dump King?” I asked.

He said Joe’s full name.

“Holy shit. People are STILL calling him that?” I asked. “That was a hundred years ago!”

“What do you mean, still?” he said.

“One, I’m the guy who nicknamed him. And I’m not particularly proud of it. And two, let’s get something straight: He’s The Dump KID. Not the Dump KING,” I said.

He was blown away by my confession and of learning the genesis of Joe’s nickname.

He nonetheless shrugged off my trademarked nickname as dated and meaningless.

The Dump Kid® was now The Dump King™. Evolution, I guess.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this guy over the years. At least as much as one can think about a guy you’ve never talked to.

Do his parents know his nickname?

Does he know I coined it?

Does he think about it every time he has to poop?

Did it impair his ability to meet girls?

To have self-confidence?

To succeed in life?

I pray he never thinks about it. I pray he’s had an amazing adulthood. That he’s adored by women. Surrounded by incredible friends and family.

I stalked him on the Internet today. I wanted to read that he’d won the Pulitzer Prize, or was a young CEO at a Silicon Valley startup, or that he invented something important.

I only found one thing.

A little church newsletter from my hometown dated October 2012. He and another kid I remember from my youth organized a golf tournament fundraiser for a local soup kitchen.

They raised $4,300. To help feed hungry people.

And I smiled.

Because no matter what his life looks like now, in whatever ways you choose to evaluate success and failure, I learned something important about Joe.

He has a kind and giving heart. He puts energy into things that serve others. He cares about things greater than himself.

And that’s something that probably helps him sleep at night.

That’s something that probably makes his parents proud.

That’s something that probably helps him succeed in his human relationships.

And now I can sleep just a little bit better, too.

Because I didn’t ruin a kid by participating in what might be labeled a cruel joke through the prism of adulthood—through the prism of a parent whose son is about to go to grade school for the first time.

What if the other kids aren’t nice to him?

What if he’s not nice to other kids?

What if he develops a pooping complex?

What if he won’t exit the stall when others are in the room 30 years from now?

Because we all have to shit.

But we don’t have to shit on each other.

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