Tuesday, October 22, 2002
Indoor/Outdoor Humans

It's difficult to conceptualize the degree to which one is dependent on indoor plumbing until one is forced to do without it for even a relatively short period of time.

Now don't get me wrong. I grew up in Wyoming. It's a large, square state with lots and lots of empty space between towns and very few rest stops. I grew up in Wyoming with public-bathroom-phobic parents who would rather suffer a case of hemorrhoids than actually have to initiate any flesh-to-porcelain contact with a non-domestic commode. Suffice it to say, I've logged in my fair share of time copping a squat behind scraggly clumps of sagebrush along remote stretches of I-80, fighting off windburn and clutching a roll of toilet paper in one hand.

But the situation becomes decidedly more complex when the plumbing in one's own habitat is being worked on, thus rendering the toilet in one's apartment Out of Order for a solid, eight-hour stretch. I mean, it's not like being a cat, for example, who has the flexibility of going from being an Indoor Cat to being an Indoor/Outdoor Cat, if you catch my drift. And, while the species of Indoor/Outdoor Humans can be spotted in larger urban areas (or in the privacy of the country), I live in a very small town where one can't get away with diddly without invariably being spotted by, say, one's Dean, or one's Departmental Secretary, or (worst-case scenario) one's Former Students.

As case in point, one night I had to make an emergency, post-midnight run to the grocery store. (Emergency, by the way, meaning that I'd run out of one or more of the following: Diet Coke, Tampax, cigarettes, chocolate). Feeling a bit cocky, I actually had the audacity to think I could just zip over to the Hy-Vee sans bra and in a pair of plaid flannel pajama pants (which, okay, I was deludedly attempting to pass off as leisure pants) without actually being seen by anyone I knew. But go figure, I ended up running into not one, but two Former Students -- one of whom was the checkout clerk. In my chagrin, I immediately entered a very Deep State of Denial in which I (once again deludedly) thought that if I somehow skulked about in in cognito mode with enough determination I might actually get away without being recognized (or, at the very least, said Former Students might graciously pretend that they didn't recognize me). But no . . . there were rousing cries of "Hey, Teach!" and "Hey, Professor Artichoke Heart!" Yeah . . . it was a proud, proud moment.

So when the landlord stopped by this morning to tell me that
Disconcerting Things which had been transpiring with the plumbing were going to require the services of Pete the Plumber, I knew that vexations regarding personal bodily functions lay ahead. (And yes . . . he really is called Pete the Plumber. Furthermore, the locksmith is called the Lock Doc, and there's also a Stan the Handyman as well. You'd think I was living in Mr. Fucking Rogers' Neighborhood, wouldn't you?) Pete the Plumber arrived just as I was finishing my second cup of coffee and declared an immediate and non-negotiable moratorium on all toilet-flushing activities until further notice. (I tactfully tried to hint that perhaps residents (meaning myself) might like a "Last Call" of sorts before he actually commenced plumbing activities, but Pete the Plumber was a surly motherfucker and wouldn't budge).

Thankfully, I live a block away from campus, so my solution was to walk over to my office to use the facilities on an as-needed basis. On the first trip, I took care of some paperwork and other sundry miscellanea, so I don't think anyone realized that my primary reason for being in the office (Monday's a non-teaching day for me) was to pee. However, as the day wore on, and I kept popping in to trot into the restroom and then trot right back out, I'm sure some of my colleagues must have become at least momentarily baffled before probably shrugging it off as Eccentric Poet Shenanigans. Particularly as I kept getting caught up in my work at home . . . grading, class-prepping, writing . . . obliviously sucking down additional quantities of coffee, tea, and water (I am all about the beverages when I work at home) until I would suddenly realize that I rather desperately required a bathroom break . . . and I'd have to scurry over to the office again, beads of sweat dotting my forehead as I jogged up the stairs and burst through the doors of the women's restroom.

To be perfectly honest, I'm not really sure how I ended up so deeply entrenched in this semi-squalid narration, and damned if I know where I think I'm going to go with this. But apparently, there was a complex of tree roots interfering with the delicate and rather antique plumbing system of the house. Pete the Plumber, despite being a bit of a Toilet Tyrant, did manage to get things up and running again by the latter part of the afternoon. I'm an Indoor Human again, and life is good.
Posted by Artichoke Heart | 3:11 AM |
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Books by Artichoke Heart
Beyond Heart Mountain
Year of the Snake

Poems by Artichoke Heart
Songs for a Rainy Season
Toothpick Warriors
Snake Wife
Happy Hour
Girl With A Bowl On Her Head

Pillow Book Courtiers Of The
East Wing
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Pillow Book Courtiers Of The
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