Humans poo. There, I’ve said it.
Some of you will stare at the page blanky and say, “So what?” Others, I expect, will wrinkle your noses in disgust and note that you might have been OK with it if I’d said “humans produce waste”.
How about this? Humans are pooping, pissing, bleeding, farting machines who have sex and get sweaty and occasionally vomit.
Plenty of people I’ve met will argue that they accept these traits of humanity, but it doesn’t mean that they want to hear about them. Fair enough, gratuitous poo talk at the dinner table is not ideal, but trying to block out the fact that you (or your partner) does these things just makes life more difficult.
“Chicks don’t crap,” my brother once quoted his friend as saying.
“What do you mean?” I asked. “Of course they do. Does he really not know that?”
“No, he does,” my brother answered. “But he meant that as far as he’s concerned, they don’t do it. He just pretends it doesn’t exist, because it’d be too gross otherwise.”
I have to agree that imagining another person huffing and puffing to relieve themselves of a hefty log is not exactly boner-inducing material, but pretending that it doesn’t happen just sets you up for a horrible shock when you one day stumble into the bathroom when your honey is steaming things up.
I remember my boyfriend and I discussing farts, maybe a year into our relationship. One day–which one, I couldn’t pinpoint–we’d suddenly stopped trying to hide from each other the fact that we had bowels. From then onwards, it’s been a sweet little partnership peppered with suspicious noises, funky smells, and inevitable giggles.
“Remember back in the day when we were trying not to do anything gross in front of each other?” I asked him.
“Yeah,” he laughed. “I held in so many farts.”
“I did too,” I admitted. “Actually, every time I told you I had an ‘unexplained belly ache’ it was just built-up gas.”
“I know,” he said. “Sometimes you farted in your sleep. It was cute.”
I don’t know if we’re just a couple of weirdos, but knowing this information about each other, and witnessing each other’s less glamorous bodily functions hasn’t killed The Magic. In fact, it just makes me feel completely at ease with the one I love (particularly now that we live in the same home AKA Lucy’s Fart Cave).
It could be because we both come from families where one parent has medical connections. His mum is a nurse (and now he is too), so blood and pus and poo were all treated very clinically. My dad is a pharmacist, and we grew up with him as our pseudo-doctor, investigating our various ailments and doling out treatment as necessary.
“Your dad buys your pads?” my friends gasped. “That’s so embarrassing.”
“For who?” I asked (I know, it’s ‘whom’ but I was young and foolish). “Dad doesn’t care; it’s his job. I don’t care. He’s always bought our medicines for us.”
And yes, if you’re wondering, that does include the more awkward stuff like thrush pills, fungal cream, and herbal laxatives (not all of which were for me… and not at the same time).
When I go to the pharmacy (the one downstairs from work) to buy my ‘sanitary items’, I feel not even an inkling of shame. At least they know I’m regular (and not pregnant), I think as I make aggressive eye contact over the counter.
“But isn’t it weird that the people in your workplace know you have your period?” friends have asked.
It’s about as weird as the people I work with knowing I eat and shit.
If anything, a bit of knowledge and openness can actually save you a lot of trouble. The old saying (and I’m loosely paraphrasing) goes like this:
Don’t be a fool; check your stool.
What they should say is this: if you’ve never spoken to anyone about toileting habits because you’ve been too embarrassed to bring it up (even with a doctor), how will you know what’s normal? I imagine that there is a high percentage of people out there suffering from undiagnosed IBS and ignoring the blood in their stool simply because they have no point of reference for how things are meant to be. You only crap once a week? Yeah, that’s a problem.
My friends and I had an amazing moment of clarity in year nine when one of us casually brought up vaginas. What followed was an enlightening and uplifting conversation where each of us was assured that our pink bits were, in fact, completely normal (even though they weren’t all the same). We didn’t have to whip anything out or compare pics, but years of pent-up anxiety was able to relieved by a simple and candid conversation, with plenty of description. (If you didn’t have this convo, and are interested in the varying shapes and sizes of fannies, check out the ‘controversial’ Honi Soit magazine cover here.)
If your argument is that children shouldn’t be exposed to images of real genitalia then I have to ask how exactly you figured out what was going on downstairs in your youth. Sure, I would have giggled my ass off and probably made a face about how ‘gross’ the vaginas looked, but in the end I’d keep those photos in my memory for a later date, and save myself a lot of stress about whether I was ‘normal’.
So, have a chat to someone about how many poos you’ve done today; proudly purchase your tampons and/or condoms and refuse a paper bag to hide them in; Google pictures of vaginas (or penises, guys) that haven’t appeared in a Playboy magazine.
And always remember: your parents had sex at least once (and they probably liked it). You don’t have to trade tips with them over Christmas lunch, but never forget that you are a product of one of the most basic (and sticky) human acts.