Without a doubt in my mind, indoor plumbing is one of the major necessities in our lives that we take for granted in this country. I mean how much would our lives change if we were suddenly no longer able to simply flush our “troubles” away. I unfortunately know all too well how to live without this luxury. It’s not exactly a badge of honor, or something I put on my resume but it is a little tid bit about me.
Growing up on the ranch, the actual homestead was located too far from a power line of any kind. This of course meant getting creative with your energy source. As a young child power came from a giant diesel generator located at the back of our house. Literally 30 feet from my bedroom window (I still require a lot of noise to sleep properly). Although the generator was good, and exponentially cheaper to operate then than it would be nowadays, it was a machine, and like all machines they break down. Unless you have been through a major disaster or had a power outage of any kind in your home, for a length of time, you don’t realize that although it’s annoying to not have lights and microwaves, it’s down right a pain to be without plumbing.
That’s where ol’ reliable came in, the outhouse. The outhouse really doesn’t get enough credit. It’s one of the most hated buildings that we dread going in to, but when the chips are down, boy are we glad to see it. The outhouse buildings on my family’s ranch, mimic the progression of the other buildings on the ranch. The ranch is divided into two sections, the old part of the ranch and the new part with a seires of corrals dividing up the two. The older part of the ranch has a few old houses, where my parents lived in the early days, my grandparents house and a bunkhouse that was part of the original homestead as well as some other out buildings that have been there since God was a boy.
Among this section of aged buildings is the original outhouse. The crapper OG if you will. This outhouse is of the deluxe edition, it’s a 2 seater. Today the modern married couple has date nights, but in those days they enjoyed doing their business side by side. What better way to escape the children and visit about your day. This outhouse was painted bright red and looks like an outhouse right out of a home decor catalog asthetically pleasing, from the outside anyways.
The second outhouse among the older section of the ranch was a later addition to the ranch that was constructed out of a metal building purchased from the oilfield. It’s only a one seater but very spacious on the inside. The seat is porcelain which is fine in the summer and somewhat of a pucker-inducer in the winter.
The third outhouse is located in the newer section of the ranch because it just doesn’t feel like home without one. And it saves a very lengthy walk to the old outhouses during desperate times. The newer outhouse is pink. Yes pink. Not a bright fun pink, but more of a bridesmaid dress pink. It has less room and is a one seater but has a nice ventilation system near the roof-finally someone had thought of that.
Today’s tale occured during a time in my life when the chips were down, or so I thought. I thought life had dealt me a pretty bad hand at the time. I was 20 years old, newly married, my childhood home had burned down in a fire the previous fall right as my husband and I were making the transition to create our lives on the ranch which meant we lived in a borrowed camper with no electricity in the old part of the ranch. No electricity meant no plumbing so we were back to the outhouse way of life. But since we were newly married and had no children we weren’t quite ready for the two seater. So the old silver building with the cheek-shrinker was our new ‘place of business’. My parents didn’t have it much better, they lived in a larger camper in the newer part of the ranch and had to reacquaint themselves with the pink crapper.
One January day I was feeling particularly picked on by the world. A few months ago my entire childhood had gone up in flames, I had no real place to live, I was going on who knows how long without a shower and was making my way to no other than the outhouse. Do you know what all my friends were doing at this time? It wasn’t this, I guarantee it. All consumed in my self pity I had been keeping to myself all morning and had decided to make this trip without my cell phone, I mean who was going to call me anyways (cue the violin music).
The old metal outhouse had some perks, but definetaly had some draw backs as well. Because it faced the west it recieved the most amount of weather head on. Having metal door handles and hinges, the elements had played a big role in making the door less than easy to open and close and stay that way. In order to keep the door from swinging open during the Wyoming wind and filling with snow and dirt we had been propping a T post against the door when it was unoccupied. Pretty fancy. This hadn’t posed any problems, until today. So on this particular day I drudged along in my muck boots wearing layer upon layer of carhart clothing options, reaching the door I moved the t post off to the side, propping it up against the outer wall next to the door and went in closing the door behind me. As I began to peel away layers of clothing I heard a thud on the outer wall and a sliding noise that stopped right about where the door handle was. Uh oh.
Its funny how God has a way of really opening our eyes to our surroundings, if you think you’ve got it rough just wait a minute. Five seconds prior I really didn’t think my situation could become any more dire. Turns out that was a completely inaccurate train of thought. I honestly couldn’t have dreamed up this situation if I had tried. I was locked in the crapper. I had no means of communication, no one knew I was here, I hadn’t brought my phone, how long would it be before they came looking for me, and who would even think to look here!! All these thoughts raced through my head as I wiggled the door handle, shook the building, begged and pleaded, looked around for options. Unbelievable!!
There are levels of panic brought on by being trapped. The first level is called petty panic. This occurs when a man is trapped in a room or car or some other situation with all females. Daughters, sisters, grandmothers, or heaven forbid wife and her friends. I mean one of them could break into a conversation about pms or hair care products at any moment! The second level comes about from being in a loveless or lifeless relationship, like an animal caught in a snare. Either situation could possibly require the chewing off of one’s limb to escape. Thirdly there is the level where the prison door slams shut behind you and you find yourself in a Pakistani prison after trying to smuggle heroin out of the country in the lining of your suitcase. Just above that horrible situation is where being trapped in the outhouse reads on the radar. Talk about being trapped in a room filled with your past “experiences”, and I mean it’s not as if you can tunnel your way out.
As humans we are only alotted so many “Praise Jesus” moments that are felt with the intensity I said it with on that day. Because this outhouse was an old oilfield builiding it had a small window just to the right of the door. Not a window I could crawl out but one I could maybe open the door handle from the outside with, or at least yell for help. The catch of course being this window had no way of opening from the inside-of course not. That’s it I would have to break the window. I searched around for something to use as a blunt force object. Somehow I didn’t feel the roll of cottonelle would suffice so I decided I would have to kick the window out.
If you have never kicked a window out let me be the first to explain to you that Bruce Willis movies don’t exactly prepare you for this task. It’s tricky and requires some knowledge of physics and not to mention fewer layers of clothes, and some training in the art of Jujitsu wouldn’t hurt. After approximately 45 attempts I heard the crash of glass and felt my leg give way. Sweet freedom. Reaching my hand through the freshly broken window I moved the t post, which had wedged itself behind the door latch in a very sturdy and secure way and opened the door. Stumbling outside I felt like kissing the cold ground, oh the warmth of the sun on my face, the scent of frest winter air. And no I don’t feel I was being over dramatic. I picked the t post up and threw it way off in the distance. That’ll teach you, you son of a …
I began a brisk walk up to my parent’s house, I had to tell someone of my near death experience and how I had escaped, not to mention expain to my husband that we would have to dust snow off the toilet seat the rest of the winter. Halfway to my destination an old familiar feeling crept up on me adding insult to injury. In all the excitment I had forgotten to take care of the matter I had gone to the outhouse for in the first place…I still had to pee.