The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Friday, July 14, 2006

SUMMERTIME BLEWS: Before I start, I should point out that summer is not usually a particularly silly time here in our happy little burg. It’s true that the kids are all out of school now, save for those who find the modern curriculum of pabulum and political correctness too educationally challenging to qualify for social promotion, and so the kids are out doing the things that all normal, healthy kids do at this time of year like robbing liquor stores, beating up old people, and setting fire to stray cats. While this sort of thing is occasionally unsettling, it does little to upset the calm and orderly progression of life here; the kids take their cues from their parents and in the main parents here in our happy little burg do not act in a radically silly manner. There are always exceptions to the rule, of course, but they are few and far between.

It is summer, after all, a time when few people want to behave in a seriously silly way, except at the beach, where the intense sunlight has the unfortunate effect of making large numbers of people who should never be seen without their clothes on suddenly decide that the one thing in life that would make them happy is to display themselves to a horrified American public in all their avoirdupois magnificence, thereby scarring the psyches of many a small child for life and permanently blinding large numbers of family dogs. The vast majority of people, however, simply want to kick back, mellow out, and enjoy the long sunny days and maybe take in the occasional movie at the drive-in or bring the family to see a ballgame. Even our civic affairs take a back seat to the demands of the season, as our local solons usually decide to not decide anything until after Labor Day. It therefore came as a bit of a surprise to all and sundry when one member of the city council proposed that henceforth all public housing built here shall come equipped with environmentally sound dry toilets instead of the flush toilets that have made American civilization the envy of the modern world.

The economic rationale behind this proposal is simple: the ecofriendly dry toilet will save water and will, as a result, save the city millions in sewage treatment costs. At least, this was the explanation given at the city council meeting; the vast consensus of opinion at Don German’s Hair Cut and Hand Gun Emporium, as well as at most other tonsorial establishments throughout our happy little burg, is that this particular member of the city council is a jerk and a jackass, when he isn’t actually aspiring to the elevated status of complete moron. I do not hold this somewhat low opinion of the councilman, although in the interests of full disclosure I should mention that I did go to high school with him and that when I was a senior his first wife gave the varsity football team a particularly nasty case of the clap, costing the team a place in the semifinals for the county championship that year. I know that the councilman is a serious environmental activist and always has been; even in high school he led clean-up drives and recycling efforts years before it became the thing to do; and I believe that he made this proposal with every intention of making his community and his planet a more environmentally safe place in which to live. I also think he is full of toads’ gonads.

A more dispassionate observer than I, however, might choose to question the motives of the councilman and all his plumbophobic ilk. Why this sudden demand to do away with indoor plumbing, surely one of the hallmarks of a civilized society? Why, in this day and age of incredible scientific advances, should our modern post-industrial information age society turn away from Sir Thomas Crapper’s gift to the world and return to the outhouse? Let us look first at the outhouse, or rather, let us smell the outhouse, since we will be able to smell the place well before the outhouse comes into view.

I know this for a fact, for my family home once came complete with an outhouse. This was long ago, of course, when my family came up to our happy little burg from the great metropolis to the south for the summer, an annual trek we made every year in order to keep my brothers and me off of the streets and out of trouble, and a removal that became permanent when I was eleven, at about the time when my ability to turn the five-fingered discount in bulk was becoming somewhat notorious with the merchants on our block. Although my father plumbed for a living, he hadn’t actually gotten around to putting in a toilet in our house until the summer before we came here permanently, and so every year we marched through the high grass in the back yard (Pop disliked mowing the lawn, and he especially disliked mowing the back yard, his reasoning being why should he expend time and effort on something nobody would ever see) to the outhouse. It would be hard to imagine a filthier, more disgusting, more feculently crapulous and noisome hellhole than that outhouse, the overpowering stench of which made my brothers and me evacuate our bowels with a single-minded determination and alacrity we seldom displayed beforehand and have never displayed since, and get the hell out of there forthwith and in a hurry, too. It is difficult to imagine the sighs of both psychic and physiological relief we expressed when Pop first tested our brand new flush toilet in the summer of 1969, and it was with no end of fraternal glee that all the brothers together pulled down the old outhouse and set it on fire, and then filled in what had to be simultaneously the most loathed and the most fertile spot on the property.

So why, you ask, would anyone possessed of all their wits actually advocate a return to such a primitive method of sewage disposal? To understand the war on the flush toilet, you must first understand the mindset of those who want to ban this paragon of Western inventiveness. The modern environmentalist is, in our current political climate, most often associated with those who believe in the power of the state to correct all of society’s ills. There are many reasons for this, one of which is that environmentalists like to tell people what to do, and the state’s ability to make the populace do things they don’t want to do is even greater than your mother’s, if you can believe such a thing. In order to get you to do what they want, they have to nag and nag and nag, and sometimes they’ll make you fork over a stiff fine for not listening to them, and at other times they’ll send in SWAT teams, but mostly they simply annoy you until you do what they want you to do. But to annoy you, they have to get at you, and they can’t get to you if you’re in the lavatory copping a squat on Sir Thomas’ pride and joy.

This is true, believe it or not. The vast majority of Americans own more than one television, but they don’t keep one in the bathroom, and until the cell phone came along, most people didn’t have a phone in the bathroom either. The bathroom was a place of solace and rest, where the harried citizen could simply sit and read and go about his business without the constant pressure to do one thing or another, simply because they were already doing one thing or another and they had to prioritize. The bathroom was the one place where an American teenager could read without their friends knowing that they were actually looking at a book, because books are gay (actual quote, people, I kid you not) and not at all cool, and social standing, as we all know and remember from high school, is everything to an adolescent. One can only imagine what will happen to the collective American grade point average when students can no longer use the bathroom for any prolonged period because of the room’s intense crapulence, or what will happen to the social life of teenaged girls when they are no longer able to use the bathroom for so long that you wonder what the hell they are doing in there? It seems clear, therefore, that this push for the ecofriendly toilet is little more than an attempt to rid this our Great Republic of the last bastion of personal privacy left to the common citizen.

And for what? To expand the already increasing power of the state to interfere in the ordinary lives of the citizenry, and yes, to serve the interests of those with a vested interest in increasing that power, such as all civil service unions, most Democrats, some accordion manufacturers, and my classmate the councilman. As I said, I am sure that in making this proposal the councilman is doing what he thinks is best for the people of our happy little burg, and indeed, for the nation as a whole. That being said, and again in the interests of full disclosure, I must say that I never liked him or either of his wives, and let me be among the very first to say that he can have my flush toilet when he pries it off my cold dead ass.


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