Saturday, July 9, 2016

Day 9: A view from the stool

A view from the stool

I took this photo while I was sitting on the toilet Friday. The dogs are looking at Coraline, who is standing out of the frame inside the curtain-that-passes-for-a-door of the bathroom, because obviously she can't get near me.

This is what it's like every time I go to the bathroom -- 3 big dogs and a kid right on top of me. I make the dogs lie down, because otherwise they're at eye level and my bladder gets shy when somebody is staring me right in the eye with his tongue hanging out, panting, while I try to do my business. I actually caught myself saying today, "It is not OK to sniff my butt! NOT OK!"

Obviously I was talking to one of the dogs.

I was going to write a caption for this photo, and first I thought, A view from the toilet. Nah. That doesn't have a ring to it. It's got to be A view from the stool. That has a nice slant-rhyme quality.

And then I realized nobody uses the word stool anymore in that context. We all call the porcelain throne a toilet. When I was growing up, nobody I knew called it a toilet. We most often called it the stool. Or the potty. When I was older, the can. My dad could call it the shitter, but I would never have repeated that word -- in front of adults. That was a naughty word.

Because there were levels of appropriateness when it came to words that describe bodily functions and the receptacle for their products. For example, kids were not allowed to say pee. It was one of those cringe words. You might not have gotten a mouthful of soap, but you'd get the warning look. We said potty or number 1. Never piss. That was a naughty word.

As was shit, of course. We could say grunty. Did anybody else use that word? I'm not even sure I'm spelling it right. Or we could say number 2 or poo, but poop was on the line. Turd was OK, but kind of crass. And shit was a naughty word.

Fart is another word that just on the other side of appropriate. Not used in polite company, meaning adults. Windy was OK though, or stinker. Did somebody let a windy? My dad would say, "Did you hear that mouse go by on a motorcycle?" I still say that to Coraline, with proper theatrics. I should make a video, but who can predict when these things will happen?

We also never said vomit. It was throw up or urp. Erp? I hated that word, urp. My grandma always used it, and I loved her to death but that word is just too close to the sound for me.

There are no naughty words for burp or belch. Just say "excuse me."

As for body parts, I didn't know the word penis until I was 14. It was a ding ding or later a peter or a weiner. My brothers probably still call their penises ding dings though. I should ask them. Nah. One of my brothers is gay. I'm sure he knows more sophisticated words for his penis. Maybe some I don't even know.

We had no words for women's genitals. Not even the word genitals. I'm not sure how we talked about .... well, we didn't talk about .... down there. It didn't exist. I was probably 12 before I heard the word pussy, and that was a confusing word and also naughty. Did it mean "down there"? Or did it mean sissy? It meant both, but it was more often used for sissy. We mostly didn't talk about down there. The day my mom handed me a box of tampons and told me to figure out how to use them if I wanted to go swimming was the day I learned, from a Tampex insert, that I had a vagina. You stick it up the what? I digress. Cunt is a badass word that was invented much later, and I wish I'd known it in junior high.

I don't think I had a word for breasts until I was older either. I remember pointing to my older cousin's newly developed chest while she was changing her shirt and asking, "What are those?" when I was five. She snapped, "You know what those are," and turned her back. I didn't mean I'd never seen breasts before though. I just wanted a word for them. I knew nipples, because even boys have nipples, but I didn't have a word for breasts. Breast-feeding was called nursing, and my mom didn't do that. Looking back, the first word, the acceptable word, must have been boobs. Breasts came along much later. So much mystery ...

For the backside, we said bottom. And even after I learned butt, it was a little bit over the line. A little risky. Ass was naughty for sure. Bum was British. People from Iowa look down on affectations like that.

It was a different time. People didn't even say damn on TV. You could get sent to the principal's office for calling somebody a poopy face.

Oh, sweet Jesus, it's Saturday night and the bars aren't even closed and I'm sitting on my couch writing about words for body parts and functions that don't exist any more. The words, I mean. Not the body parts. I can't even remember what I meant to write about tonight.

What about you? Any names for body parts or functions that have gone out of style or were peculiar to your family? Is this why my mom has always said I think too much?

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