Award-winning writer: Jackie Papandrew

Airing My Dirty Laundry!

Plunging into Thanksgiving

What do you get when you take a dozen family members of varying ages and degrees of regularity, put them in the woods in a cabin with one low-flow toilet and then stuff them to the gills with Thanksgiving bounty?  You get, of course, a calamitously clogged commode and enough tension to earn a spot on the Jerry Springer Show. This is what happened to my family last Thanksgiving.

Everything began beautifully. We encamped in the woods, like modern-day Pilgrims, to feast and frolic, to drink in the clear, cold air and give thanks for all our blessings. The women scurried about, preparing succulent fare. The men did what men do on such occasions; they stood around waiting to begin the traditional male holiday jobs of eating and sleeping. The children sprinted around outside, hands and feet flying, noses running, delirious with the joy of being out of school and unsupervised. When all was ready, we gathered before a table groaning with good food. We salivated at the smell as we offered up our thanks. We were giddy with gratitude. And then we ate. And ate. And when we were bloated like beached whales, every corpuscle groaning from the gluttony, we ate some more.

The trouble began in the magic hour when men assume their rightful positions on the couch to catch the kickoffs, and overworked digestive systems begin the Herculean task of breaking down all that food.

As it often does, the terrible news came from a single, small voice. The youngest child emerged from the bathroom shouting excitedly, “The potty’s exploding!”

There are few things less welcome at such a time than the words potty and exploding used in the same sentence. We scrambled toward the bathroom to assess the situation. By scrambled, I mean the sea lion’s scramble, the rolling, sloshing way every creature dragging more than a ton would scramble.

When we eventually arrived, we gathered soberly around the overworked toilet. The evidence of its rebellion was plainly visible and set off a round of groans and gags in the adults that made the kids giggle.

History will record the ‘90s as the decade of the bum rap, when Congress mandated that toilets should flush with a measly 1.6 gallons of water. Today’s children, deprived of the 3.5 gallons that swirled through our childhoods, are far too well-acquainted with the humble plunger. When one was located nearby, our low-flow generation sent up an affectionate cheer that made my blood boil. No child should learn to prize a plunger.

The men, by nature hunters, began the task of conquering the cranky commode. Grandpa, as the patriarch, headed up the attack. He pumped vigorously, then gave a strong pull that sent him flying across the room and left the kids helpless with laughter. Tempers rose, and bladders threatened to burst.

Each football-deprived man took his turn as a toilet tamer, but, sadly, the effort was flush with failure. The men began to bicker over possession of the plunger. Sweating and muttering curses, each wielded it like a samurai sword as he took his turn in battle. The recalcitrant latrine gurgled and grunted, but would not back down.

The women, watching all their hard work laid waste, did what moms do best; we attempted to assign blame. The children, who had earlier been engaged in an innocent game of pull-my-finger with Grandpa, now eagerly took part in our vicious finger pointing designed to identify the guilty clogger.

Old insults and resentments, slights delivered years ago, resurfaced as brother betrayed brother, daughters cast aspersions on mothers, and in-laws were made to feel like outsiders. Accusations of tissue overuse were hurled, and sanitary practices questioned. Legs and expressions were crossed, and eyeballs appeared to be floating. The family was falling apart.

That’s when Grandma stepped in. Brooking no dissent, she ordered everyone into their vehicles, and we headed for the nearest service station. Later, relief registering on our faces, we clutched hands and sheepishly apologized for our outbursts. We returned to the cabin, where the porcelain privy, having proven its importance, stood clear, the damp plunger by its side. Our hearts once again overflowed with humor and good cheer.

This year for Thanksgiving, I think we'll just gather at the airport, home of high-powered toilets, and the call of nature will get a grateful reply.

~  © Jackie Papandrew 2007 ~

Jackie Papandrew is an award-winning writer, syndicated humor columnist, coffee addict and mom to a motley crew of children and pets who provide a steady stream of column ideas and dirt. She's also wife to a very patient man who had no idea, years ago when he still had time to escape, what he was getting himself into. Visit her website at:  JackiePapandrew.com

[ by Jackie Papandrew Copyright © 2007, (me@jackiepapandrew.com) -- submitted by: Jackie Papandrew ]


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