Saturday 25 July 2015


I suppose that like most people the first toilet that I used was in my diaper. Mom and dad would have to deal with the problem, I was too busy by far trying to learn how to walk and talk. I couldn’t bother myself with the day to day necessities of eating, drinking, and waste removal that I left to others who had nothing else important to do.

I can’t remember if I had one of those cute little potty seats that fit on a regular sized toilet or if I had a separate, stand alone little potty that was for my use exclusively. I suspect that given the era, I would have had the stand alone seat and mom and dad would have to wash it out after every use. Eventually I would hang my tiny little butt over the edge of a normal toilet thinking that I had finally made it to being a big boy!

It’s surprising how short a time that pride in being able to use a toilet lasts. One day you get praised for doing number one or two and sometimes if you have been very good there might be some kind of sugary treat as a reward. A week or so later no one actually makes any kind of comment at all unless you don’t use the toilet. Then as they say, the shit hits the fan. My mom is mad, dad seems to be very disappointed and my brother is smirking that smirk that I will come to hate so much in the years to come. No treats…no praise…just guilt. It is pretty effective though because I can’t remember too many “accidents”. Well there was the time on the golf course with dad and walking home from school in grade two, but they were isolated incidents and I just don’t ever want to talk about them again!

I remember when we first started to go to Gram’s cottage and had to use an outhouse. It was a two seater, but to the best of my memory I never saw more than one person use it at a time. I imagine that dad had to dig the hole and build the little out house. Maybe back then you could by an outhouse kit from the Eaton’s catalogue. Indoor plumbing was common in the cities, but I think the rural areas lagged behind in some very important ways. I do remember that one weekend the outhouse was in one place and the next weekend it had moved a few feet closer to the Hayden’s cottage. Even though it was in a new location, the smell seemed to move with it.

Eventually, the toilet moved into the cottage, just between Gram’s room and the room that Steve and I shared. It still wasn’t a flush toilet, but the hole was longer and you needed a flashlight to see to the bottom. The smell was still there, but not as strong and was more like the echo of a smell. Dad would pour a bucket of lake water down the hole every day and there were some chemicals tossed down too. I was told that the “waste” went down the hole and into a septic field. I had no idea what that meant, but the adults seemed to think it was a big step forward so I went along for the ride.

Gram sold the cottage eventually and it has been a rare occurrence for me to use an outhouse since then. I guess I am spoiled and have become accustomed to modern plumbing. I cleaned the toilet just before writing this blog which is probably why I am thinking of toilets. It isn’t a fun job and since it isn’t fun I tend to let more time pass between cleanings than I should which makes the job all the less enjoyable. I imagine that at sometime in the future there will be a self cleaning toilet, but until then I just wish I could flip open the lid and pour in a bucket of lake water to clean it.

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