Leaky Pipes

January 1st, 2012

Dear J,


Happy New Year

I threw up once.  I mean to say I have thrown up several times, but this was particularly memorable,  if that’s how you describe these things.  It was in 1981 on an overnight train to Lisbon, Portugal.  I had started feeling a bit “off” as evening fell.  With a mind to spare some of the coarser details, the thing that struck me about this incident was that, up until that point, I really had no idea as to the arsenal of eviction tactics available to the digestive system upon deeming its contents to be a much unwanted tenant.  I remember peering into the toilet as I felt the first stirrings.   A slight easing arrived and, ahh, thinking I just might be spared, I looked up at the reflection of  my pathetic self in the mirror.   In retrospect, this really was a case of poor timing.   Superseding any preventative measures, an inordinate amount of puke ejected from within.   We’re talking fire hydrant here.  So surprised was I, no effort was made to direct the flow to the toilet or sink.  Instead, I  marveled as everywhere I looked  the walls became coated with a splotchy orange film that started to run, like legs on a wine glass.  I was awestruck really, until the wretched stink of the event rose and broke my trance.   When I had finished the tiny cubicle looked not unlike someone had within it blown up a large cat.  Clean up was out of the question as supplies were limited to three squares of single ply toilet paper hanging from a filthy dispenser.  I  exited, nodding to the four burly Spaniards in the hall who seemed mostly occupied chain-smoking and muttering things to the women who passed.   I heard a kind of gasping from that crew as I fled to my seat.

The story leading up to, as well as following, that event is interesting on its own-highlights including: a six hour bus trip,  three mustachioed nuns, and a larger than life chocolate bar.  But it is not the story I have set about to relate. I just thought an example of the horror one experiences when stricken with the need to purge in a confined and public space would be fitting.  On a brighter note, I feel somewhat fortunate that this story did not take place in an elevator stuck between floors……….inhabited by a wedding party………where I was the best man.  Wait a minute that was your wedding wasn’t it?

This is what I am want to describe.  See, I woke up, just the other night about 4 a.m., to the familiar smell of dog shit.  I hate the smell of dog shit which is unfortunate because I am basically surrounded by it and picking it up makes for 80% of my job description.   As always, when I am visited by a smell strong enough to arouse from sleep,  there was an attempt to ignore it.  With any luck, it might have been just a particularly well placed bit of canine flatulence.  It wouldn’t be the first time.  Then came the slow constant yip of one dog-about every 15 seconds or so(I tend to time these things like contractions at birth).  This is never good.  Eventually, after about four queries from Phyllis “Do you smell that?”, which is a kind of easily broken code for informing, “Someone, other than she, ought go and investigate.”   I hauled myself down the hall.  The house smelled bloated and dead, but there was no clear indication of an epicenter.  The yipping was from the “west wing,” as we call it.  This is the trailer we annexed onto the side of our existing trailer in an effort to have less dogs in our direct living area.  Basically, though an architectural travesty, it has served its purpose well.  However, going down there at 4 in the morning is risky because you are going to wake a lot of dogs.  You know the saying….

Anyway there was no putting it off.  Once down the hall things became pretty clear.  For starters, you need to visualize our set up.  I don’t know if you have seen them but in Japan they have these little sleeping quarters, basically like a mausoleum with glass doors, that you can sleep in at the airports etc. ( if you are interested)  Anyway that is basically our concept at Barksville only we use stacked dog crates.  Some are plastic some are metal.  The dogs seem to like it and it works for us.  The downside of this particular arrangement had just occurred.  One of our favorite guests, Hula, had found herself at a gastrointestinal crossroads and, possessed with not the temerity to let loose a warning racket, had simply erupted from her ass with a force that, I am sure, surprised even herself.  As some dogs do, it looked as if she’d made an attempt to run away from the scene but finding herself limited to the crate simply spun in circles.   This greatly aided in covering about a 6 foot radius with fecal matter ranging from kibble sized lumps to a fine mist.  I found her standing in a ½ inch of shit soup.  The yipping sound was from her neighbor below who couldn’t but take exception to the shit dripping on his head from above.

Where the fuck do you really start?  In my underwear, I opened the door and let her out of her crate.  Oh happy she was and plopped two, shit covered, paws onto my thighs and then merrily trotted down the hall towards the door.  I followed the thirty foot trail of shit managing to step in only some of it and let her out the front door.  Then I went and rescued the one who was getting rained on from above.   He too was gleeful at his release.  The clean up was time consuming.  As often is the case in times like these, this time was passed with some reflection as to the relative benefits of various occupations.


Hope the coming year treats you well,



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