I feel it’s necessary for me to make a confession. Our many friends know me to be generally a kind-hearted and compassionate kind of person. Yet, what you may not know is that inside me dwells a hatred that is neither Christian or compassionate. At this Christmas season, maybe you can find forgiveness in your hearts or sympathy for my attitude. I must confess to my friends a deep rooted attitude of hatred and a propensity toward violence. Not with everyone, certainly not toward my friends and family. But there is one who has pushed me to the edge and my attitude is evil toward him.
With him, violence rises up within me. I always try to find the best in someone, but this one, this one is too much for me. I realize that he was created by God just like me. I realize that he probably has a family and friends, just like me, but his appearance and character just push me too far. In short, he bugs me. To put it bluntly – he’s ugly.
Now I realize that it’s not his fault. I don’t mean to judge, please don’t judge me for judging him. But, honestly, I can’t get past it. His black beady eyes constantly shifting, his voice is like an irritating buzz in my ears. I don’t even listen to his words. I would be more content if he would just shut-up.
He’s so small, smaller than most, yet an attitude that he can conquer the world. Little man’s syndrome we call it. He looks at me with such disdain. He doesn’t care what I think or what I say. His black skin just crawls with disease and filth.
You see he spends his time in the dirty places, places you and I would never go. He eats food I would never touch. A beggar by nature, he finds a smelly dumpster to be a smorgasbord of delight. I understand that we should give to the less fortunate, but I simply refuse to share my food with him. I would rather he starve than touch my food. When he sees my food I cover it from his eyes. I don’t even want him looking at me. He repulses me. I don’t even feel remorse for my hatred. I simply want him dead and removed from the earth.
He spends his days in the most disgusting and dark places, places an ordinary white man would never dare to go, yet he comes to me and sits near me and occasionally touches me. I don’t want him to touch me or be near me. He’s here, he’s there, he moves around the room like an invited guest. He eats my food when I’m not looking, I’ve even seen him drink from my cup and I’m so repulsed that I dump it down the drain rather than touch it to my lips again. I want him out of my house but he refuses to go. I want him gone. I want him dead.
He even touches my wife and my children, like an intimate friend. Hatred rises up in me and in them. Has he no sense of decency? This is my family! This is my home! Yet he is near us and touches in ways that boil my blood. They have no compassion either. They have learned to hate him too. We attempt to ignore him whenever possible. But there comes a time, when his pastiness overwhelms one of us and we will reach for the nearest fly swatter and kill him in an instant.
Through the years I’ve become very acquainted with toilets. Working in school maintenance, I’ve done everything from being the guy who scrubbed and plunged the toilets to fixing, repairing, replacing, and even writing the specs for new construction and new toilets. I’ve also had my share of personal time with toilets. I’ve spent many hours sitting on one, or simply standing in front of one practicing my aim. You might even say that our relationship has been very intimate. When sick, I have hugged my toilet as a cool and close friend and I’ve shared things with my toilet that I don’t share with anyone. My toilet has often seen a side of me that no one else has seen.
The mystery runs deeper than just the relationship with the toilet itself. What puzzles me is the various toilet relationships as it relates to gender. Here at the campground, I spend a great deal of time with toilets and with people; the same was true at the schools. People, young and old, male and female, all spend their own quality time working out their private relationship with a toilet… or that’s what it seems. However, I’ve begun to notice a pattern that troubles me… or maybe ‘trouble’ isn’t the word, ‘baffles’ might be a better term.
This isn’t about the massive quantities of toilet paper that are flushed without mercy down our ancient drainage pipes. Or even those weird items that seem to endlessly appear in the female toilets when they refuse to flush. This isn’t even about what appears to be failed surgeries that seem to plague the female gender. I know there are some repulsive explanations for those mysteries…. most, I simply refuse to hear. I’m satisfied just to know that, by calculating the number of rolls of TP by the number of visitors in our restrooms there is no question that our campground is occupied by hundreds of clean butts.
No, it’s none of that. Let me explain. Here at Castle Rock Campground our toilets are old ‘residential’ type toilets and frequently need to be plunged. This wasn’t a frequent problem at the school with modern ‘commercial” type toilets. In addition, on a busy weekend, we could have hundreds of people using our toilets throughout the day. So, during our busy times I find myself cleaning the toilets about every hour. In between the cleanings it is common to get a call that one or more toilets simply are unable to make the necessary pressure to purge the latest deposit. Upon arriving it is usually a simple matter of reprimanding the toilet with a rubber plunger until it resigns and swallows the ignominious load. On the men’s side of the facility this is usually a simple matter. I walk in, find the offending toilet, and do whatever is necessary to remedy the problem. But on the women’s side the problem is more sensitive. I can’t simply walk in, proper etiquette requires that I wait until all the female visitors have exited the room.
This is where the problem begins. As I sit outside the problematic facility I’ve learned something about the gender relationship with toilets. Men simply walk into the restroom, do whatever needs to be done and then exit, often finding themselves waiting for their female partner. There is little to no conversation inside a male toilet facility. A male toilet facility is not unlike an elevator where the uncomfortable close proximity of other humans makes conversation awkward. Don’t get me wrong, there is a prehistoric level of communication that conveys our personal satisfaction of our ongoing progress, but talking for the sake of building personal relationships is totally void.
Women on the other hand enter the facility and often do not emerge for significant spans of time. To make the mystery even more intriguing, the female visitors often enter the facility in large congregations, not unlike the harems of old. These woman not only actually speak to each other, they treat it like a social gathering that could rival many family reunions. Keep in mind in our little campground the woman’s facility has four toilets nicely arranged along one wall with typical toilet partitions and doors. Yet frequently I’ve seen as many as a dozen chattering friends enter the room and join other like-minded guests. Often while I wittiness this unusual human behavior there will be one or more toilets that have lost their ability to ingest the necessary contents. From outside I can hear the chattering of these women that sounds much like the cackling of a roost of hens. They talk, chatter, and laugh like old friends. They build relationships and life-long friendships. What troubles me is I can’t imagine, for the life of me, what happens in there. Do they stack themselves up? Do they have some kind of bucket-brigade? What is there to talk about that they didn’t discuss around the campfire or back at their RV? How many fit inside one toilet stall? I’ve tried to imagine all kinds of scenarios, but every possibility defies the imagination and even the laws of physics. I try to picture a half-dozen women arranging themselves around one toilet, but I know their aim is no better than a man’s and they simply don’t have the hardware to make the shot. Or maybe they have found some shared labor system….. no, this simply doesn’t seem right. Maybe you have some idea?
Worse than adult women are the little girls. We recently had a girl scout group that included about thirty little Damsels that found it to be a matter of pure entertainment to make frequent and regular visits to the facilities as a group. Who could imagine that in beautiful northern Michigan campground, situated along the sandy shores of Lake Huron, and only a short drive to some awe-inspiring sights and experiences, that a social gathering at the campground toilet would be the highlight of the adventure. It was as if they had never experienced the shared joy of expelling their small human waste as a social event. This is simply a matter that is beyond my limited comprehension.
I’ve asked this query of many men and they all give the same response; they simply hang their heads and shrug their shoulders. Then I’ve asked many women about the mystery of the toilet; they simply smile and make some gesture that tells me “you simply wouldn’t understand”. What is it that I won’t understand? What is going on in there? Men have engineered methods of traveling through space at speeds that bend the mind. We have set foot on the moon and have explored the depths of the oceans. Yet, there is a mystery here at home that baffles every man, it exceeds our comprehensions, and brings our skillful imaginations to a dreadful halt. What really happens in there?
Please use the space below of you have any insight into this baffling mystery.
Laws Concerning Food and Drink; Household Principles; Lamentations of the Father
Of the beasts of the field, and of the fishes of the sea, and of all foods that are acceptable in my sight you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the hoofed animals, broiled or ground into burgers, you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the cloven-hoofed animal, plain or with cheese, you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the cereal grains, of the corn and of the wheat and of the oats, and of all the cereals that are of bright color and unknown provenance you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the quiescently frozen dessert and of all frozen after-meal treats you may eat, but absolutely not in the living room. Of the juices and other beverages, yes, even of those in sippy-cups, you may drink, but not in the living room, neither may you carry such therein. Indeed, when you reach the place where the living room carpet begins, of any food or beverage there you may not eat, neither may you drink.
But if you are sick, and are lying down and watching something, then may you eat in the living room.
And if you are seated in your high chair, or in a chair such as a greater person might use, keep your legs and feet below you as they were. Neither raise up your knees, nor place your feet upon the table, for that is an abomination to me. Yes, even when you have an interesting bandage to show, your feet upon the table are an abomination, and worthy of rebuke. Drink your milk as it is given you, neither use on it any utensils, nor fork, nor knife, nor spoon, for that is not what they are for; if you will dip your blocks in the milk, and lick it off, you will be sent away. When you have drunk, let the empty cup then remain upon the table, and do not bite it upon its edge and by your teeth hold it to your face in order to make noises in it sounding like a duck; for you will be sent away.
When you chew your food, keep your mouth closed until you have swallowed, and do not open it to show your brother or your sister what is within; I say to you, do not so, even if your brother or your sister has done the same to you. Eat your food only; do not eat that which is not food; neither seize the table between your jaws, nor use the raiment of the table to wipe your lips. I say again to you, do not touch it, but leave it as it is. And though your stick of carrot does indeed resemble a marker, draw not with it upon the table, even in pretend, for we do not do that, that is why. And though the pieces of broccoli are very like small trees, do not stand them upright to make a forest, because we do not do that, that is why. Sit just as I have told you, and do not lean to one side or the other, nor slide down until you are nearly slid away. Heed me; for if you sit like that, your hair will go into the syrup. And now behold, even as I have said, it has come to pass.
Laws Pertaining to Dessert
For we judge between the plate that is unclean and the plate that is clean, saying first, if the plate is clean, then you shall have dessert. But of the unclean plate, the laws are these: If you have eaten most of your meat, and two bites of your peas with each bite consisting of not less than three peas each, or in total six peas, eaten where I can see, and you have also eaten enough of your potatoes to fill two forks, both forkfuls eaten where I can see, then you shall have dessert. But if you eat a lesser number of peas, and yet you eat the potatoes, still you shall not have dessert; and if you eat the peas, yet leave the potatoes uneaten, you shall not have dessert, no, not even a small portion thereof. And if you try to deceive by moving the potatoes or peas around with a fork, that it may appear you have eaten what you have not, you will fall into iniquity. And I will know, and you shall have no dessert.
Do not scream; for it is as if you scream all the time. If you are given a plate on which two foods you do not wish to touch each other are touching each other, your voice rises up even to the ceiling, while you point to the offense with the finger of your right hand; but I say to you, scream not, only remonstrate gently with the server, that the server may correct the fault. Likewise if you receive a portion of fish from which every piece of herbal seasoning has not been scraped off, and the herbal seasoning is loathsome to you, and steeped in vileness, again I say, refrain from screaming. Though the vileness overwhelm you, and cause you a faint unto death, make not that sound from within your throat, neither cover your face, nor press your fingers to your nose. For even now I have made the fish as it should be; behold, I eat of it myself, yet do not die.
Concerning Face and Hands
Cast your countenance upward to the light, and lift your eyes to the hills, that I may more easily wash you off. For the stains are upon you; even to the very back of your head, there is rice thereon. And in the breast pocket of your garment, and upon the tie of your shoe, rice and other fragments are distributed in a manner wonderful to see. Only hold yourself still; hold still, I say. Give each finger in its turn for my examination thereof, and also each thumb. Lo, how iniquitous they appear. What I do is as it must be; and you shall not go hence until I have done.
Various Other Laws, Statutes, and Ordinances
Bite not, lest you be cast into quiet time. Neither drink of your own bath water, nor of bath water of any kind; nor rub your feet on bread, even if it be in the package; nor rub yourself against cars, nor against any building; nor eat sand.
Leave the cat alone, for what has the cat done, that you should so afflict it with tape? And hum not that humming in your nose as I read, nor stand between the light and the book. Indeed, you will drive me to madness. Nor forget what I said about the tape.
Complaints and Lamentations
O my children, you are disobedient. For when I tell you what you must do, you argue and dispute hotly even to the littlest detail; and when I do not accede, you cry out, and hit and kick. Yes, and even sometimes do you spit, and shout “stupid-head” and other blasphemies, and hit and kick the wall and the molding thereof when you are sent to the corner. And though the law teaches that no one shall be sent to the corner for more minutes than he has years of age, yet I would leave you there all day, so mighty am I in anger. But upon being sent to the corner you ask straightaway, “Can I come out?” and I reply, “No, you may not come out.” And again you ask, and again I give the same reply. But when you ask again a third time, then you may come out.
Hear me, O my children, for the bills they kill me. I pay and pay again, even to the twelfth time in a year, and yet again they mount higher than before. For our health, that we may be covered, I give six hundred and twenty talents twelve times in a year; but even this covers not the fifteen hundred deductible for each member of the family within a calendar year. And yet for ordinary visits we still are not covered, nor for many medicines, nor for the teeth within our mouths. Guess not at what rage is in my mind, for surely you cannot know.
For I will come to you at the first of the month and at the fifteenth of the month with the bills and a great whining and moan. And when the month of taxes comes, I will decry the wrong and unfairness of it, and mourn with wine and ashtrays, and rend my receipts. And you shall remember that I am that I am: before, after, and until you are twenty-one. Hear me then, and avoid me in my wrath, O children of me.
This is written by Ian Frasier, from The Atlantic magazine (February 1, 1997). The original is at this link.
I found it from a link by Lois Tverberg on Our Rabbi Jesus