Saturday, October 12, 2013

Public Poots And Beaver Chutes

We like to think people were more uptight in the olden days, but know this: folks used to sit down side by side on the biffy and chat over the day's events, over the day's effluents. Men and women. Yes, they did. It is the probable origin of the phrase "shooting the breeze." In contrast, many of us moderns can barely manage a poot in a public restroom equipped with metal stalls. I'm no better. If I sense something splatty coming down the pike, I will totally wait until my neighbor flushes to cut loose. Meanwhile, she's waiting for me to flush. Everyone's uncomfortable, and all because we do not want it known that shit happens, at least to us. We're fooling nobody.

The ruse can get more extreme. Some people catch their own poop in their hands and lower it into the toilet to avoid the plopping sound that will alert others of their tribe to their humanity. Yes, they do. It's enough to make one rethink the handshake. For people this sensitive, there is a new product out: PooPourri. This simple oily spray, when applied to the toilet water in advance of a turd incursion, will seal all odor inside the water and allow fellow restroom users to imagine that you have merely gone into the stall to eat a sandwich.



If only we shot castoreum out of our butts, a trip to the ladies' room would be more like meeting up in a bakery. Unfortunately you have to be a beaver to shoot castoreum out of your butt. Only beavers have castor sacs, from which they distribute fragrant calling cards for the benefit of other beavers. Castoreum smells great. Trappers in Ontario are paid $10-40 for a harvested castor sac. Thanks to the internet, anyone can obtain helpful instructions for removing castor sacs from a beaver ("first, you need a beaver").

The musky vanilla scent of castoreum has led to its use as a perfume ingredient. A good snootful of beaver is thought to be alluring. Shalimar, for example, contains beaver oogie. There is, without a doubt, some perfume somewhere made of rodent splat and whale barf that you can dab behind your ears. The whale had no further plans for its puke, but it's not good news for the beaver, who was having a rough enough go just being good hat material. There are humane alternatives to beaver excavation in Africa, where the petrified hyrax poop serves much the same purpose. Inasmuch as the poop has aged for hundreds if not thousands of years, impact on the current hyrax population is low. The hyrax looks something like a guinea pig but is actually closer to an elephant, although to be on the safe side, it should not be too close. Taxonomists note that the hyrax, like the elephant, has toenails, tusks, and a good memory. I am informed that the tiny two-pound elephant cousin is not kosher. But if you want a nice perfume note, you can do worse than chipping out a fossil hyrax turd.

Where people get a little squirmy about this sort of thing is in the use of beaver butt goo as a food additive. No one much blames Scandinavians for using it to flavor their highly alcoholic snaps--it's going to take something strong to tuck into a platter of lye-soaked codfish. But elsewhere, it will show up as a flavoring in items as common as vanilla ice cream. You will not find "beaver bottom exudant" in the ingredient list: it will be listed as "natural flavoring." You're probably best off not thinking about it at all.

For sure you don't want to know what's in Rocky Road.

Thanks to readers Max Roth, Bill Webb, and Rosemary Lombard for pelting me with useful blog pellets.

71 comments:

  1. It would be nice if my dog's butt juice smelled like vanilla.

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    1. Oh, if I had a nickel for every time I've heard that.

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  2. Oh Lordy, Murr. I did NOT know that about some people catching their turds to keep them from splashing. Oh Lordy! I am definitely rethinking the handshake. Ghhaaaaa!

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    1. This comes to us straight from David Sedaris, who learned it from a fan. He subsequently put the question out to everyone he knew, and discovered it's, well, not unknown.

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    2. just when I thought I'd heard it all. it occurs to me that TP might be used in such a situation. great - now I'm on record on the internet as having thought about this subject. Thanks a lot, Murr.

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    3. Oh, the enormous TP wad for catching the output? That IS helpful. Although you do have water right there to clean up with.

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    4. Heavens no. One simply makes a single layer of tp on top of the water. Not only is it quieter, it prevents backsplash on the booty. I am not so delicate. But I have flushed prematurely to cover 'noises.'

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    5. I am such a water tightwad that it never occurs to me to do a preemptive flush.

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  3. I've met several beavers around my sister's lakes, but I never had the urge to rub their butts on my face. Of course I'm sure the feeling was mutual.

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    1. That's not something you can really be sure about.

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    2. When both of you are running in opposite directions, I'm pretty sure any butt rubbing is out of the equation.

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    3. Do you customarily run from beavers? I'm always approaching everything with my camera. Until they turn around and head my way. Then I'm scared of them. This includes squirrels.

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    4. I approached one of those humongous turtles that can be found alongside the road in Florida. It was my intention to photograph him, then move him to the other side of the road for his own safety.

      Did you know those things can RUN??? AT you? And pretty darn FAST? Me neither.

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    5. Any time something runs right at me, I flip out. I don't care what it is. I once went ass over teakettle at a charging grouse.

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  4. Just saw that ad on another blog, and thought it was a joke. That actress deserves an award for getting through it with a straight face. We humans are a very strange bunch, for sure. But now I will never be able to eat vanilla ice cream again. Thanks for that.......

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    1. It's a real company and product. My own personal strategy if I make a big stinky in a public restroom is to wait until everyone's gone. Doesn't take long.

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  5. I'm with DJan---didn't know that either. Ick. And for the ad, there are no words. Well, there are yours, but yours are always brilliant. Mine? I just don't have any.

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    1. I would point out here that if you can manage a long enough turd, it might not splash at all.

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    2. In Australia we have low water levels in our toilets. Everything splashes.

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    3. Here's another thing I think is cool: different countries have different toilets. I used to love the German ones. I won't get into why right now.

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  6. Wonderful post, but I'm not catching my turds.

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    1. Well, they're slippery little deevils.

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    2. Practice, practice, practice Mr Young.

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    3. Tim draws pictures of turds.

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  7. Amazing...I had seen the poo-pourri ad on FB and by passed it because I thought it was too common. But you have certainly woven that information into a post of interest. I knew they put a lot of stuff in perfumes, but since I do not wear perfume, I never worried.

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    1. I hate sitting next to someone with too much fragrance, and now it's only going to be worse.

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  8. Turd-catching. I just... I got nothing. I couldn't even conceive of that as a joke, let alone a real thing.

    But it gives me a great idea for a new product: "And now, from K-Tel, the new and exciting TurdCatcher(TM)! Keep your hands clean and never suffer from embarrassing splooshes again! Long handle for easy access, and extra-wide catching receptacle guarantees discreet disposal every time! Folds to fit easily in any handbag! Buy now, and as a special bonus, you'll also receive a bottle of PooPourri and a tasteful pink T-shirt with the message "I never poop!" Hurry, offer ends soon!

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    1. We should get that genius who came up with the doggie tennis-ball thrower. And the handbag would have to come with a secret pocket.

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    2. Wait, that's it! You're brilliant. We'll just *re-use* the doggie tennis-ball thrower. That way we'll be able to capture the political poop-flinging market, too. Users can decide whether they want to suppress the sploosh or go for the big splash...

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    3. Seriously. Once you have it in the flinger, it's pretty much up to you where you put it. None of this appeals to me. My output tends to be squirrelier.

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    4. squirrely?? you need more fibre.

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    5. Mostly it's right on the money, but TENDING toward squirrely, rather than dense and...edit yourself, Murr. Does everyone need to know this?

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  9. OK, one more thing I don't want to do to earn my daily bread: be a castor sac harvester. Ick.

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    1. I used to like dissecting things. I'm over it now.

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  10. Another delightful post.Your more squeamish readers might like to read about the toileting procedures used in space travel before booking that moon trip holiday.In zero gravity...oh, look it up, people.

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    1. Well, shoot. They could look it up right here in Murrmurrs.

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    2. I clicked on the link and had a good read, now of course, I must read right through you archives. You are just so funny!

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  11. Oh dear. Crap catching... And for those of us who fumble every catch, the concept is even uglier.
    Another brilliant post - albeit one I don't want to think about as the day goes by...

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    1. I wonder if even beaver poots smell terrific?

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    2. New, from Clairol, "Gee, Your Air Smells Terrific?"

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  12. I thought seaweed in ice cream was bad enough!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelp

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    1. Oh heck. Around here we have ice cream joints that probably sell Kelp+Starfish ice cream.

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  13. I think you should start a move--a group called SOB, aka Save Our Beavers!

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  14. Even as I was clicking on my e-mail notification that there was another gem from you, I said to myself: "Self. Don't do it. You're eating take out hot and sour soup and moo goo gai pan." Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me 47 times and counting? Ridiculous. And sublime.

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  15. I've worn Shalimar for 20 years. Gack and GAHHHHHHHH.

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    1. I remember when I was in junior high the Must Have fragrances (there haven't been any since) were Shalimar and Ambush. A little tidbit from my past.

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    2. Another evidence of the difference in our ages. I grew up with Loves Baby Soft, and then Charlie. I admit I loved the Bobby Short commercial for Charlie!

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  16. I don't think I'd be comfortable "going" on pots without dividing walls, but in regular toilet stalls anywhere I'm not shy. I have to go, so I go.
    I love vanilla, but now I'm wondering how long it will take me to forget what "natural flavouring" really is.

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    1. To be fair, there are other natural flavorings.

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  17. Ah, the eternal dilemma of bathroom etiquette. They really should come equipped with white noise machines, in my opinion.

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    1. Upon occasion I can work up a good white noise, for a little while anyway.

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  18. When I joined the navy in 1959 there was no such thing as privacy. We showered in an open bay with twenty or more shower heads sticking out of the wall; the urinals were fountain facilities about eight feet in diameter - you stood around it and peed; and toilets were lined up against the wall no more that a couple feet from each other - of course everyone smoked when taking a dump.

    I don't know when males became so self-conscious that they require private facilities.

    Women on the other hand: who knew, among the single sailors, that women could stink up a bathroom (or a bed room.)? Nice, sweet, petite young women: naah...they couldn't possibly.
    the Ol'Buzzard

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    1. Really? You mean women actually got away with it? Tell you what--nobody farted in my house growing up. I don't even remember what we did instead. I seriously don't remember ever hearing a single fart. That's why I've been working so hard to balance it out as an adult.

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  19. When I was growing up (some years ago) the small Baptist church we attended had an outside toilet for women. It had 3 holes in a wood platform suspended over a pit. I can well remember the women chatting away as they sat there. The men, by the way, just went to the woods.

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  20. So where do they get the castor oil you take when you're constipated?

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    1. I take castor oil? Oh right. I never need castor oil.

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  21. I read your blog on the internet so it must be true. You are truly the expert on what comes out the back end of mammals.

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  22. Good grief, another essential purchase for the loo. We've only recently migrated from strips of news paper to the soft stuff. Tho frankly, we coulda managed.

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    1. Another reason digital catalogs are inferior.

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  23. Murr-you must check this out. It's just up your alley, or your bathroom, or something. It's a bathroom-themed restaurant. Why? No idea.
    http://la.eater.com/archives/2013/10/14/outrageously_themed_magic_restroom_cafe_soft_opens_serving_golden_poop_rice.php

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  24. I recently read one of those articles designed to make you really think about what you're eating/drinking. It revealed that "natural" raspberry flavoring comes to us via the anal glands of a beaver. I once loved raspberry iced tea.

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    1. Don't be a hater. Anyway, I think it's still probably the castor sacs. They're right next to the anal glands. It's a one-stop plopping center.

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  25. How fortunate: I already have a beaver.

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