Essays

On Pooping

     I poop a lot. I've already pooped twice today and I need to poop again. In certain circles of people who have known me for quite some time, this is one of my defining characteristics.  My friend Lori calls her bathroom, "Kevin's room".  When I didn't work at home, I became intimately familiar with my work bathrooms; I got to know where scratches were and thought about the writings on the wall at great length. I've read my wallet I don't know how many times while pooping, certainly many times before Smart phones. I learned that my father used to do this same thing and I thought it was a pretty solid idea. Even now, with smart phones, I tend to always only read a book when pooping.  Sometimes, when that's not an option, my news apps will do. Depending on the book, I'll keep reading after the pooping is done and delay the wiping while I finish another paragraph or page. I don't like those seat covers in bathrooms.  I feel like they are just a sick trap to not let your poop fall out and into the water. There's always that hanging piece of tissue and the poop clings to that as it slowly works it's way down to the water.  I use toilet paper, exclusively.  I put three pieces on, doubled over. I imagine this doesn't help the environment, but I suppose that the fact that I don't drive a car makes up for that somehow.  Maybe?

One of my biggest nightmares is having to poop at Wrigley Field.  Having never been in the women's bathroom, I can only speak to the men's.  It's a piss covered beer hell.  Were the water to even think about splashing up on my ass, I would have a ten to twelve minute convulsion.  Even though that already happened to me at Mardi Gras in St Louis 15 years ago (more on that later).  Since I get pee shy, I often have to pee in the stalls at Wrigley, and every time I'm in there I go through the nightmare scenario of having to poop in there. Would I sit in broken peanuts? Blood? Vomit? Piss? Or just straight Old Style?  I'm interested in sitting in none of those.  Before I go to games, wherever I am, whether it be at home or a friend's house or even a public toilet, I will sit on the toilet and stare at the wall and try to poop.  There will be no joy, no reading, it is all business. I push hard, but not too hard, as I am afraid of (and might currently have) the hemorrhoids.  When I was young, I thought I had hemorrhoids because my butt itched so much. My mother bought me some Preparation H and I meticulously applied it.  Looking back, I think I just was not wiping well enough, causing the itch. 

For the longest time, I would stand up to wipe.  Look, I don't know.  I don't recall being potty trained, but I don't recall anyone ever telling me that I had to be seating for the cleaning up part; so, I just chose to stand. I would pull off some Toilet Paper stand and turn toward the toilet and kind of just dig in. I didn't get in there too deep and this might have what caused my "hemorrhoids".  When I finally figured out to wipe sitting down--I'm not quite sure when this was--I wiped toward the front.  Again, I don't know. Finally, I figured it out and I wipe like a normal person now; at least I think so. And I wipe hard. I get in, I dig up there, I don't want to see any poop on that paper when I'm done. My friend Aaron, also a consummate pooper, would talk about how he could tell he was living with me just because of the toilet. I wipe so hard that pieces of toilet paper flake off...not just some of the time, pretty much all of the time. Having spent a lot of my life with little to no money, I learned to buy the cheap version of whatever I was looking for, and for a while I did this with toilet paper as well.  But I had to stop that. I'm just to frequent a wiper to even consider using Scott tissue.  My mother's house always has Scott tissue.  I hate Scott tissue.  When I pull it off the roll, I can basically see my fingers holding the paper unless I fold it four times over and even then, there's a ghost of my digits.  I hate Scott tissue.  Often, I think that people in the toilet paper business are going to be just fine.  We need it, this isn't India.  I find it particularly gratifying in a buttoned up society such as ours, I will see the shyest of people just heaping a huge helping of toilet paper up on the check out line.  We need it. Myself more than others. Just to my right behind me is my upstairs bathroom. I have exactly 11 rolls in there; I can remember without looking.  I need to know when the rolls are getting low. I must always have plenty of toilet paper. In fact, I'm going to go poop right now.

There, all better.  I brought Herzog by Saul Bellow in with me; was only able to read about a page and a half; Bellow is dense, but funny. I'm going to have some drinks for a friend of mine's last day at work.  This means that I will poop within an hour of waking up tomorrow, probably much sooner.  I can tell what the next day is going to be like, poopwise, by my activities the night before. In much the same way, I know what foods will really get things moving.  Anything with grease, there'd better be a bathroom nearby with which I am comfortable.  My friend Nick's bathroom, near where we often meet for breakfast, has been a real go to for me. If the bathroom of the establishment is not too heinous, I will poop there; yet, I prefer the comfort of a familiar bathroom. When eating most meals, I'm thinking just as much about how long it's going to be until I need a bathroom as I am about the food. This is a serious business. To illustrate, I can point to a time, in 2008, when I stopped with Nick at the Taco Bell near Wrigley Field.  I don't quite recall what I ate, but I'm going to guess that Nachos Bell Grande were on the menu.  I might have even got adventurous with some sauces. We left, walked to the red line, and hopped on, heading north.  This was about a 12 minute right up to Edgewater where I lived at the time.  Shortly into the train ride it started.  I was certain I was going to shit myself, explode out of myself, cover everyone around me.  I leaned forward and wrapped my arms around my stomach.  I started to sweat; I tried to drown out the conversations around me; I cursed the slow moving train.  I squeezed my ass cheeks together and mumbled to myself to not let go, not here, not now.  My stomach turned and ripped and cramped. I was sweating even more.  I didn't think I was going to make it.  I was going to shit myself on the El Train--not something to which every 26 year old gets to lay claim.  Finally, we reached my stop; Nick got up and let me rush past.  I got outside and knew that my apartment--a 10 minute walk--was too far away, so I turned and ran to the Dominick's, a grocery store. I sprinted and squeezed my cheeks together; sweat was pouring off of me. Now I was in danger of shitting myself in the middle of a major Chicago thoroughfare. I made it into the store, ran to the end and found a bathroom which was mercifully vacant.  I pulled my pants down just as I was able to hold it no longer and I shit for 45 minutes. Nick kept having to knock on the door to check on me. I was so relieved I had made it and that I was able to shit, I hadn't a care in the world.  I took my time.  A quick read of that story would lead one to blame it all on the Taco Bell choice.  And while that had something to do with it, that cannot be the sole culprit. So many other foods do that to me; granted, a lot of it is fast food, and I try to stay away from fast food these days, but it's not just a Taco Bell thing.  So, next time you're seeing me eat and I have an inquisitive look on my face and I seem to be trying to figure something out, I am.  I'm trying to figure out when I will need to poop and where the hell I am going to do it. 

I have eaten Chipotle one time in my life, at the beginning of the summer of 2005, in Mansfield, Ohio; when I returned home from my only food consuming visit to Chipotle, I went right to the bathroom and shit blood, and a lot of it.  That South Park episode was real for me. I am sad to say I had shit blood before.  I as on tour the winter before and had drank about my weight's worth of Crown Royal the night before and had an early van call the next day.  All morning, as we were driving, I could feel my stomach turning and when we finally stopped at a McDonald's for a break, I had no choice but to use their restroom.  I sat down, pooped, grabbed the toilet paper, wiped, pulled up the paper to look at it and saw only blood.  Bright red blood. My breath caught and I worked overtime to not totally lose it. Being a hypochondriac of the first order, my mind was racing through every conceivable illness.  I finally was able to catch on something I had heard once: If the blood is red, you're fine; it's when it's all black that you best be seeing a doctor. (I heard that from a cook at a restaurant where I had my first job, as a dishwasher.  He also thought my father was my grandfather and would always try to throw his brother, the chef, onto grills, but his medical advice seemed sound).  I cleaned up and went out and decided to pass on the McDonald's.  I got in the van.  I was in the first seat in the back o fa 15 passenger van.  I shifted in my seat and looked out the window as we drove fourth north into Wisconsin.  I thought of that blood. I couldn't take it, so I pulled out my phone and called my dad.  I kind of put my head down and mumbled into the phone.
"Hello, yea!?" My dad yelled.
"Dad, it's Kevin, you ever...um"
"I'm busy, what did you say?" Yelling again.  My father can project. I cleared my throat and took a quick look around at my van mates and then curled back into the phone.
"You ever have blood in your poop? Cuz I just did."
Without missing a beat, he said, "Oh yea! All the time! You're fine."
"Wait, what? You always have blood--"
"Yea, you're just fine.  I gotta go. I love you."
"I love you, too," I managed and hung up. Was this what it meant to be a Crispin man? You just had blood in your poop all the time?  Well, it was better than the many alternatives running through my mind. Speaking of my father, this seems to run in my family, or at least is something I share it with my sister.  I could not count on both hands how many times we've been on the phone with each other and realized that we were both pooping: It has happened so often, I wouldn't have enough fingers to count.  I need a few extra hands.  She and I poop a lot and also, converse.

Mardi Gras was the worst.  I went to college and Southern Illinois and lived on a floor with some guys who were from a small town called Red Bud, near St Louis.  We took a weekend trip and decided to head over to the Mardi Gras festivities. When we arrived, we had to get on a shuttle bus and be taken further into town.  The woman driving our bus was just so unbelievably old that I leaned over to my friend and asked him if he thought that it was Eva Braun. He just turned and looked at me, confused.  I told him to forget it.  As we were nearing the final destination, I realized that I had to poop and it was suddenly serious. I had not planned this correctly.  When we got out of the bus, I scanned our surroundings and saw a line of porta-potties and directed the group that way.  I went into a free one, sat down (after trying to put down some toilet paper) and all of a sudden it shot out of me like fire and then the muck from below splashed back up on me.  I can think of the five or ten worst moments in my life and I will always include this moment.  The moment that tepid pee, poop and maybe blood (blood!?) filled blue water splashed back up in to my asshole is right up there for worst moment ever. I froze, thought and then decided thinking wasn't the best idea; and for maybe the first time in my life, I was able to stop my thinking and do what needed to be done.  I wiped, and wiped thoroughly and then I came out of the porta-potty and walked over to my friends.  I was calm and I held up my right hand and pointed at each one in kind. I made sure my words were measured and came out clearly.
"Listen, we are going to find a restaurant, right now. And I am going to wash my ass."
They didn't argue with me.  After a few minutes, we were able to find a place with a passable bathroom and even as I cursed how close the restaurant was to where the splash occurred, I washed and washed and washed my ass.  I must have washed it at least four times.  When I walked out, I felt moderately better, but was still quite uneasy.  While that was 15 years ago, there still is a chance that there could still be something dormant inside me.  I knew it was a bad idea to get on the bus that Eve Braun was driving.

 

Kevin Crispin

What do you think is up to my right in the picture? A cob web? Probably a cob web. Or maybe it’s my Beatles records on top of my air conditioner. It’s certainly not fresh, new wainscoting.


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