Tribal Behavior

I’ve lived long enough to learn that everyone’s family is weird, but I’m pretty sure that your family hasn’t communally defecated. We’re not proud of this, and it’s always happened under special circumstances, but it’s happened more than once. It should be noted that we’re also a family of almost all women, so this whole situation’s doubly weird because women don’t shit. We’re a family of all women because my mom has two sisters who are divorced, and they both have daughters. My stepdad has never had anything to do with this gang pooping, probably because his digestive system is one of science’s greatest mysteries (I’ve promised not to write too much about his issues because unlike me, he seems to have some self-respect).

The first time it happened I was ten, and it was during my grandparents’ wake. My cousin and I were busy being kids in the backyard while inside our parents sat in stunned silence. It was a family friend’s house, and their kids were showing us around. The youngest daughter who was about seven was wearing an astronaut costume that she’d almost outgrown. She looked surreal, dressed in a shiny kevlar suit that only went to her elbows and knees. Did I think her apparel was disrespectful? Most likely I didn’t, especially when I think about what happened next.

Someone closed the door to the house, and suddenly we were trapped. The door was locked, and there was no gate out of the yard, and the fence was too high for us to climb. We screamed for the adults. There were four of us kids yelling, but they didn’t hear us. We could see them in the upstairs window, solemn and miserable. We threw rocks. We turned on the garden hose and sprayed the window. No one noticed. I’m not sure who realized it first, but suddenly both my cousin and I had to go. It was number two. We started to panic.

We were out there for maybe a half hour when we couldn’t wait any longer. I want to say it was my cousin’s idea, but it just as easily could have been mine. We went down to the bottom of the garden, near the fence, dug little holes, did our business in unison and buried our feces. This second burial of the day most likely defiled the sanctity of the first, and I’m certain my grandmother would have disowned us both. The host children turned away out of politeness, accepting this act of desperation.

When the adults finally found us, this story perfectly proved their negligence. My mom was horrified. To this day when I see the host family, I like to remind them that I used their garden as a toilet. Why you might ask? Well, I don’t know. Why am I sharing this now? Why was my last post about bloody noses?

The next incident involves my same cousin, mom and aunt. We decided to go kayaking, and on the way there, we made the mistake of eating some very greasy cheeseburgers and fries. Just as we could no longer see the kayak rental place, just as we were really out at sea, all four of us had to “make shits.” That’s what my mom called it when I suggested we just jump in the water and do like the whales. My mom guffawed and not because of its potential environmental impact. “You can’t make shits in the water!” she said. I was pretty sure this wasn’t true because one of my earliest memories is of making shits in the bathtub.

My aunt and mom kayaked back to shore, disgusted by their progeny. Their urge to find a bathroom was so strong that they didn’t really consider what their daughters planned to do. Left to our own devices, my cousin and I paddled to the closest beach–never mind that it was private. There, beneath a multi-millionaire dollar beach house, we pooped in unison, much like we had at our grandparents’ wake. This time it was less shameful and more exhilarating and hilarious. Pooping in public is really liberating and the ultimate rebellion. I suggest you try it.

Families introduce you to poop–they teach you how to approach it. Is it shameful or humorous? They often have their own poop language–the baby talk used while potty training. If you’re lucky this language goes away. When I was very small, so small that I hadn’t learned the word for fart, I called it a “poopie sound.” My parents found this adorably hilarious, and they liked it so much that they also started calling farts “poopie sounds.” So when I was five and having dinner at a friend’s house, and I farted, it was just the beginning of the humiliation. Thankfully they laughed and started teasing me about farting, but I was mystified. What was this farting they talked of? I quickly tried to apologize for my poopie sound and move on, but now they were laughing all over again and for a different reason. Poopie sound?! That’s when I must have first realized that my family, that all families, are odd tribes with their own customs.


  1. So true, my friend, so true.

  2. Valerie Riddle says:

    I LOVE every bit of it… It couldn’t have been written any better;) it has been a while since we pooped together … Lol… Perhaps a reunion is in store for us;)

  1. […] Tribal Behavior – Details the several times my family has defecated together. […]

Leave a Reply to Valerie Riddle Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: