Not Soho, Not Even Flushing
Updated: May 30
This isn’t SoHo. It’s not all about art around here. Other things come up now and then. As usual, this is the time of year when older people pontificate to younger people about going out in the world to make their mark. “The world awaits! Tomorrow’s teachers, tomorrow’s scientists, tomorrow’s philosophers are sitting amongst you on this, your graduation day!” But in reality, there is so much to learn that takes context. It can’t all be taught in school. Truth is, truth isn’t even the same from one place to another. There are landmines everywhere we go. Just as we are getting comfortable, thinking we know one thing from another, we get whacked upside the head with a new lesson. “This is a petunia, this is knapweed, this is the bathroom, this is the great outdoors.” According to Tori, making your mark and marking your territory are two different things. Who knew?
Of course, unlike in the city, when you live in the country, guys pee outdoors. It is encouraged from the days we take our first steps. We are taught to be relatively discrete about it, compared to dogs, but not so much as to disrupt progress on our chores. It is about the septic tank you see. Every flush is more work for the septic system, more water from the well. At least that is the lore. I suspect it has more to do with convenience. Or perhaps our mothers don’t want a bunch of filthy boys traipsing into the bathroom any more than absolutely necessary. But whatever the case, the act is not associated with any sense of shame. Like driving a dirty pickup, peeing outdoors in the outback is practical, and if nothing else, we ruralites are practical. And it is the natural way. A oneness with one’s maker, or some such thing. As my buddy, Chuck Fraser, puts it, we have “standing water rights."
So, anyway, I didn’t start this whole conversation to elaborate on the finer points of urination. I started it because there are these two weeds I’ve been experimenting on to see how many times I have to pee on them until they die. I’d say I started in about the second week of April. It is now late-May. Two or three times a day I’ve sacrificed my priorities to pee on these weeds. I’ve felt good about my commitment, and I was just getting a sense of having gained a measure of accomplishment, judging by the increasingly puny look of the foliage. In fact, I would say I was on the verge of success when Tori happened to catch a glimpse of that sort-of-unmistakable body language of the hurried-man zipping up. And what would normally be a
barely audible harrumph from a member of the outdoor-plumbing-disadvantaged sex, came out as more of screech. More like the shooing of a dog from digging in the garden.
“WELL, NO WONDER!!” She yelled. "I thought something had to be going on there!"
I don’t know my plant families. If we don’t eat them, or make firewood out of them, or grow them for cows to eat, I probably don’t know them. I know we have some chlamydias, and
some gobsofthesias, and some whatthehellarethosias, but I’m not an expert. On the other hand, Tori kind of is. She know plants by their surnames and their nicknames, plants that have no idea at all who she is. People send her photos of plants to identify. And it turns out, she knows these weeds I’ve been peeing on. It even turns out she put them there. I think she called them something in the jaundice family. Maybe e-coli. I can’t remember, just now. I took Latin, but I didn’t have great amo, amas, or amat for it. But whatever I’ve been killing is looking pretty sad. In fact, I don’t think they really have any chance of surviving. But she thinks that maybe if they were removed to some unsullied soil somewhere, perhaps they would begin again to thrive.
"That’s fine”, I said. "I won’t be offended." Not like she was with my experiment. Which was all in the name of science, you know. But the fact that she asked me to dig them, now that starts
to offend me. She thinks I am going to dig around in that urine-saturated soil, separating out the delicate roots from the toxic dirt I’ve been creating, without even any PPE!
So I say, “Why would you put those plants where you surely know I would want to urinate?? We have 40 acres!”
She says, “I have no idea if we even have places you don’t want to urinate! When these plants came up I thought I’d finally lucked out!”
Well, I’ll dig them, I guess. You do do little things like that for those you love, but I’m not happy about it.
I know urination practices can be fraught with certain adverse outcomes. When our young nephew, Dallas, came to stay with us for a while, back when he was just a wee lad of four, we got tired of leaving off our chores to take him into the house to the toilet, where he had believed it was proper to urinate. It took some coaxing, but over a few days he was peeing like a big dog, anywhere and everywhere. We were like three pees in a a pod, or at least two of us were. Just as everything was working like it should, out here in the sticks, his grandmother came to fetch him back to his Dad, who lived in San Diego. He was home for about five minutes, and down comes the trousers, right out in front of God, and everybody. All fingers pointed 1200 miles north, toward Uncle David and Aunt Tori.
There are different rules in different places. I know that. But there are rules where things should and shouldn’t be planted, and who the hell would plant a delicate plant like the lovely flowering Jaundice e-coli in the urinal?? And can’t we keep the variegated Dingus copula at least four feet away from the peeing wharf? That’s all I ask!