I’m reading a shit book at the moment. It’s not often that I refer to any book, even a very bad one, in such terms, but in this case that’s an accurate description of it. The book is called Merde: Excursions in Scientific, Cultural, and Socio-Historical Coprology by Ralph A. Lewin and it’s all about shit.
I’ve found it a somewhat disconcerting read, swinging between laughter at some facts and deep fascination at others. Lying in bed the first night I picked it up, reading passages aloud to my partner, I’d have to pause to giggle helplessly. I knew that I should be more ‘grown-up’ about the subject matter, but I was quite unable to get past the fact that everything I was reading translated within my brain directly into toilet humour. Thankfully, he chortled too! There were random asides about plankton feces, why dogs eat cat poo and just how necessary dung beetles are. And … then there was the moment when I realised just how much shit there is in the world – all over the world. Which wigged me out somewhat. And then there was the next realisation of just how much less life there would be without it.
Shit seems to be everywhere at the moment. To wit:
A few days before I picked up Merde, I was exiting the osteopath clinic, all very normal. However, walking down the footpath towards me was a guy wearing a wide-collared light pink shirt open to halfway down his (hairy) chest, with a gaudy medallion adorning the gap. His trousers and business jacket were quite normal, but his feet were ensconced in cowboy boots, while his hair was the epitome of Disco Stu. In short, he looked like he’d stepped out of the 70’s. I wondered if there was a ‘Simpson’s’ cosplay going on somewhere nearby, but I couldn’t see any blue beehive hairdos or cans of Duff beer.
Just a strange guy, then. I tried not to gawk (maybe a little unsuccessfully) as he came up beside me and waited for the lights to change. We crossed the road and I reached the other side before him. As I walked toward my car, I could hear his heels clacking behind me. Then his mobile phone rang (no, not with a disco tune!) and the strange became stranger.
I don’t know if this guy was partnered, had kids, was gay or was flatting. All I knew what that he rocked (er, disco’d) his clothes and hair and boots, and carried a cell phone. And, as I was about to learn, that someone sharing his abode could not wipe their arse.
Seriously. For the next three hundred metres, disco-man had a (loud) conversation on his phone with someone about laundry and skid-marks. They discussed the amount of toilet paper required to prevent said skid-marks, the maturity levels needed to know not to leave skid-marks in the first place and why whoever it was was shitting on their own clothes, everyone’s laundry and his day in the first place. It was impossible not to listen, as he continued to keep pace about three steps behind me, carrying on this conversation the whole time.
So… this was what I picked up from the conversation. Two squares of toilet paper isn’t enough to clean your bum – and knickers aren’t there to collect skid marks! If your underwear does get browned, don’t expect your flatmate/mother/sister/whoever to clean them for you. I was mentally flinching at this point, remembering (from when I was a young’un) just how unpleasant it can be when you don’t clean your bottom properly; you walk too much, you sweat, your skin cracks and sitting gets very uncomfortable. Frankly, it’s a good incentive to wipe your arse and thoroughly.
Shortly thereafter I reached my car and Disco Stu continued on his way and his conversation. Someone in his house was mad about laundry and someone else in that house was probably sitting strangely. I was just glad that neither was in my home.
And yet there’s shit in every home. Every person – all six billion of us, from babies to celebrities to the pope to you, dear readers – poops. Most of us clean our bottoms properly, whether it’s with soft (yet strong) toilet paper, bidets, soap, or leaves. Many of us giggle guiltily when we let off a fart. Few of us, I hope, leave others to scrub the crusty skid marks off our knickers.
And all of us, I hope, wash our hands.
| Curvaceous Dee