My Shitty Mother’s Day Gift Might Have Been Used

If you’ve read this blog for a while or even had the misfortune of standing behind me in line at the grocery store, you know that I am NOT a high maintenance individual. No, I don’t mean that I’m not a regular bather… but there’s an excellent chance that my daily shower does not involve shaving and didn’t include putting on makeup or a bra after the fact.

That means I’m pretty hard to shop for, especially when it comes to sentimental holidays like anniversaries, Valentine’s Days, or Mother’s Days. It’s like you know you SHOULD get me something special and meaningful, but you also know that’s totally not who I am and you’d be wasting your money and wasting my “I get a present!” holiday. Instead, I want the far-out things that I really could buy for myself but that I don’t get, mostly because I wasted our weekly budget on vegetables, polio shots, and orthodontia for the kids.

Last year, after squirreling money away for a long time and arguing with my husband for years about whether or not it was actually a good idea, I bought myself the World’s Ugliest Camper. To most people, that’s an accurate description. To people in the “camper world,” it’s the most glorious object ever to grace the highways. It’s a 1966 Serro Scotty Sportsman, and yes, it even has the teal-blue color scheme. I love it! It sleeps three, tows easily behind my little Toyota, has a fridge and a microwave and an AC unit, and most important, it has a toilet.

All of my camping horror stories are for another blog post, so before you start bitching about how “that isn’t camping!” let me tell you that my first camping trip happened when I was 11 days old. It lasted three years, and I was in college before my parents finally admitted that it wasn’t a camping trip, we were just homeless. They called it camping to avoid any finger pointing from the school system and to prevent damage to our self-esteem. Trust me, folks, I’ve roughed it.

Unfortunately, one thing this camper doesn’t have is what’s known as a holding tank. Luckily, I read a lot, so I happened to find that out the EASY way through online research into my new camper instead of by actually taking a poop in my camper without having it hooked up to a sewer. Those ABC After School Specials were right… it pays to read.

So when I told my husband–to his face, even–that I wanted a poop box for Mother’s Day, you’d think by now he’d have been used to it. Instead, he did that thing where he closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose while thinking really hard about how to respond. When his vision returned to normal, he just said, “Where would a man buy one of these poop boxes if he was going to purchase one for his wife?” He actually had the good sense to smile and looked relieved (haha! RELIEVED! AS IN, HE RELIEVED HIMSELF!) when I told him it was already in the Amazon shopping cart online.

Because Amazon is awesome and they actually care about both Mother’s Day and hygienic pooping, my giant box arrived two days ago. I only ordered the 12-gallon poop box because I wasn’t really sure I could lift and dump (haha! DUMP!) the larger sizes without causing a biohazard cleanup. Trust me, I’ve had two kids and changed diapers for a grand total of seven years… 12 gallons of piss and shit is more than anybody should have to put up with at one time.

This morning, in honor of Mother’s Day, I snuck downstairs to the front porch to open my gift. Inside the Amazon box was another box, this time from the fine poop-boxing folks at Thetford. It contained my poop box!


I inspected every angle of this thing for any tell-tale signs that it had actually been used, short of actually putting my nose to the hose opening and inhaling. I checked the wheels for signs of scuffing, I checked the hose connectors for anything suspicious. I did find a horrifying smear of something that turned out to be a lubricant around the hose lid and, after convincing myself that it was very unlikely that this poop box had been connected to a trailer where they filmed porn movies and this was the remnants of pooped-out anal lube, I realized it was to make the tiny cap spin on better.

As you can imagine–also from reading this blog for any amount of time or standing behind me in the grocery store–I’m a little unstable. This box could have been hand crafted in my front yard by OompaLoompas and I still would have wondered if one of those little shits (get it? SHITS!) had defiled my poop box when I wasn’t looking. It’s good to be suspicious about these things, nay, healthy even. And now, much like my parents’ alternate reality of my childhood, I get to complain for years to come about my husband buying me a Mother’s Day gift that had been soiled. My poop box is actually very clean (thanks to the bleach it’s currently soaking in) and now I don’t feel bad asking for something crazy for my birthday.


The Great Outdoors

I’m writing this from the cozy comfort of campsite #32 somewhere in the lesser hills surrounding Chattanooga, Tennessee. More precisely, I’m supposed to be at campsite #32, but it’s dark out there and it’s muggy-hot with invisible bugs swirling around my head and making threatening trash-talk type statements in my ear about how they’re gonna cut me. So now I’m writing this from the air conditioned shower house. No, I’m not sitting on the toilet, don’t be gross. I’m standing by the sink.

My family camped a lot when I was young, except for a few years in which my dad was not allowed to go camping due to one bad experience. Apparently, this one bad camping weekend was so atrocious that it got him banned from camping. By the United Nations. Or by my mom, I can’t remember. My therapist says we’re not ready to talk about that yet. He could just be trying to get me to stop avoiding the big issues like my death fear of light fixture stores for these silly side anecdotes about camping.

I don’t consider myself a purist about much of anything, so when I pitch my pop-up crawl-in Taj Mahal next to a camper with two and a half baths, I’m not too proud to mooch their wireless internet connection without them knowing. See? Already you’re thinking I might be a little bit of a hypocrite since I’m in my back-to-nature mode with my laptop humming. I fully embrace the portability of electronic devices if it makes camping a lot less like…well, sleeping outside without any of the comforts of home.

My girls and I camp fairly often and we rough it, slightly. You may have noticed that the previous sentence doesn’t contain any mention of my husband, since in his mind roughing it means the cable television got knocked out by a storm and he had to put on a DVD; as he often points out, “I have a job and pay a mortgage for the express purpose of not having to sleep outside.”

Yes, we sleep in a tent, but there’s an inflatable airbed between our butts and the cold, hard ground and we’re positioned close enough to the site’s power outlet so the kids can watch their portable DVD player. Yes, we cook over a campfire, but there’s also a mini propane stove standing by for those times when I’d like to eat sometime within the next hour instead of waiting for the fire to be ready. There’s coffee in the mornings, and that is roughing it because it’s Taster’s Choice instant granules instead of my usual Keurig Caribou Coffee pods. There’s wine, but it came in a cardboard box; may you never fully know the extent of my suffering.

Basically, my approach to camping is the same as my approach to probably everything else in the world: why make it be stupid if you don’t have to? At the neighboring campsite, I got to watch a husband and wife argue for the better part of thirty minutes about how to pitch their tent. There was profanity involved, and that’s not even counting the few times I swore under my breath while watching them struggle. They finally wrangled the thing into a tent shape, sat down angrily in their lawn chairs next to it, and aren’t speaking to each other. It’s going to be really funny when they realize that there’s not a single cooking implement at their entire site because they both thought the other was going to pack the car.

I really love going camping and watching the parents who scream at their children to put away the handheld video games because “we drove all this way to enjoy the outdoors!” I wonder if the parents had something in mind other than throwing rocks at trees for fun, because so far enjoying the outdoors looks a lot like sitting in a folding chair with your eyes closed while the kids take turns shoving each other violently into the creek. And Dad, is that a Blackberry I see strapped to the belt of your L.L. Bean Khaki Wader Shorts? While your kids wander the 30 square feet of your designated campsite in utter boredom, don’t let me catch you in the shower house fielding emails from the office. I can’t afford for your device to slow down my wi-fi connection.