“Houston, we have a problem!”
“Thanks a bunch Dad. Tom Hanks is on the phone, he wants his script back.”
“Sorry, love. Anything?”
“Well… keep trying!”
That was the default conversation throughout my childhood whenever I needed to poop. I remember it so clearly even though it was decades ago because it defined who I would become in so many ways. For the world looking in it was a number two issue but for me it was always my number one problem with a shit-stained bullet.
I still remember how it started, stupid really but I guess I was scared of just letting go. Allowing it to come out and play in the water. Convincing myself with intense backing from my stressed parents that pooing my pants was the worst thing a young child could do to themselves. Just imagine the mess caused by helicopter parenting when poo is involved!?! Talk about sweating the small stuff.
I must have been only two years old and my potty training was not going well. I kept leaving it too late causing hundreds of nappies and underwear to be thrown away or burnt. In the end my Dad started making a list. His top five arse incidents are:
1. My best friend’s birthday party at a local soft play place. I jumped into the ball pit and my guts jumped out of my butt. Dad rechristened it the “ball shit” in front of all the parents. I was called “Shitty balls” from that day forwards.
2. We went on holiday to Spain and I was in the swimming pool lying on my back relaxing when I felt something escaping my swimsuit. A minute later a lady behind me screamed. I turned around and there was a turd attached to this lady’s head, tangled in her hair. My dad - who at this point should have been writing headlines for a tabloid - called the lady “Shit head”.
3. At my Nana’s funeral I was five and still wearing a double nappy as a precaution to “destress the day” for Mum and Dad. I managed to keep it in for so long but standing by the grave as the coffin was lowered must have set off a subliminal message to my innards and they decided to give Nana their own send-off. The smell was so foul everyone ran away from the grave to find fresh air leaving only me to witness the coffin disappearing from sight. Still, the smell may have got out but my stools were safe and sound inside the nappy pressed against by bum cheeks. Classy and what Nana would have wanted.
4. Whilst at school I was doing PE and beforehand I could feel a poo coming so went into the toilet and tried to go… but I got the standard mental block and my anus stayed schtum. Half an hour later I’m in my all white shorts and T-shirt bouncing on a trampoline. With my shrunken anus I’d thought I was safe for now so wore normal underwear. Big mistake. On the third bounce my stomach let out an almighty rumble and a volcanic shitty eruption soared out of my arse through my shorts, showering the equipment, nearby teacher and the surrounding students. We all looked like we’d been thrown into a chocolate fountain except inedible and smellier… much, much smellier.
5. Finally we come to the most hurtful - when our new neighbours moved in. My parents invited the couple round for lunch to get to know them. I know this sounds weird already but that’s the kind of people Mum and Dad were. Really nosey. Anyway, Mum, for some reason, started talking about my “downstairs issues” making the neighbours think it was to do with my period or something. I was 14 at this point. However, once Dad had described the four incidents mentioned above, these neighbours who were even nosier than my parents asked for proof. “Go on then! Show them…” I was mortified. I’m not a bloody sideshow turning my arse tap off and on willy nilly! “Go on love! You had that sausage roll an hour ago so you must be ready to blow soon!” I stared deep into the soul of these cruel humans I called parents and a single tear dripped down my face. I didn’t breathe for 30 seconds until my face was redder than any embarrassment I was feeling at the time. “Love?” Love? They wouldn’t be putting me through this if they knew what that really meant. This was abuse, plain and simple. Still refusing to breathe I stood up, turned around, pulled down my skirt and pants and sprayed my parents, the neighbours and the freshly polished dining room table in my shitty sausage roll excrement. With screams and disgust ringing through the house I pulled my skirt and pants back up, turned back around to face my abusers and said “Happy now?”
“Keep trying!” And that’s what I did, finding ways to live with this curse. Try having a relationship with someone when eventually after a couple of fun dates you have to break it to them gently… literally and physically. They rightly run a mile from old skid mark McGee over here.
I’ve tried everything:
· Nappy with hole cut out underneath for easy access and no need for extra “pull down to poop” step
· Boxer shorts with a back flap like prospectors in the Old West
· Briefs with a full hole in the butt so my crack is exposed enough to help me run and hopefully get sat down in time.
· No underwear. Going commando is good but if I have a day where I’m crapping like a diarrhoea-ridden dog, then it’s lucky I’ve packed a bin bag and spare jeans and socks.
· Period pants – god they’re good. Keeps in the smell and the mess.
· Tights over normal underwear. Really keeps it in place but required more deodorant to mask the pungent pongs coming from the sloshy gussets.
· Always for any of these options you need a lifetime supply of nappy bags, wipes and Sudacreme. My botty gets sore with the amount of poo that sticks and hits it every single day so you have to be prepared. Drip, drip drip. Plop, plop, plop.
By this point you’re probably wondering if I’ve ever got over this faecal psychological nightmare. The simple answer is not really. In my early twenties I went to a hypnotist who accidentally made it worse by causing me to think I should also piss myself at the same time. I was a hairdresser at the time and I can assure you the Wet Cut and Blow Dry did not go well that day. Whole place was closed for a week to be fumigated. And my parents used it against me to hold me back, embarrassed I would cause drama wherever I go due to my uncooperative colon.
One day I snapped, I told my parents I’d had enough and they needed to stop belittling me. Yes I had a problem but I had coped and was still coping and living with it. I had a good supportive bunch of friends and I finally knew what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to be an actor, so after a few years of acting classes, amateur performances and the wonderful introduction to Immodium in my life, I went for my dream job. There were just two things blocking me from pursuing my dream… Mum and Dad. You see I still lived at home due to the little savings I had and the amount required to buy or rent your own home.
So after being holed up in my parents kitchen deep in negotiations for several hours, we agreed to disagree and I went to an acting job equal distance between the toilet in my mate’s flat and the one at my childhood home, my two favourite thrones. I was even begrudgingly given permission by my Mum, even though totally unnecessary but made her feel better, to stay on site in my trailer during the day.
By the end of that acting job something weird happened, the poopy paranoid parental voice in my head slowly faded away like a dry fart. Then one day I was on set and I realised it was a nude scene. My confidence was soaring and the pressure I had always felt from my parents about my ploppy problems seemed to have disappeared.
“I’ve never gone this long without underwear!” I told my hunky nude co star just before the sex scene began. “Or known how to control my bowels when someone is pressing on them. I simply don’t know… oops!”