Wherein the Barn Jester, having stepped in it, encounters an unexpected trial.
The travails of home ownership (where “home” should be “house,” but we leave that for another day) are well known to the owners of “homes.”
- There is no plumber’s assistant ready and waiting in the corner of the main WC when one Patty McFaddenkeister visits and, half-way through dinner, excuses herself to lay a record-setting length of cable. Embarrassment ensues, especially when the children (and who can blame them?) begin to giggle uncontrollably.
- A skunk moves in under the front porch and, at the provocation of the ever-meddling Johnny from down the way, raises its bi-colored tail and avails itself of a better defense against Johnny than any parent, teacher, or grammar-school headmaster has heretofore conceived.
- The shower in the master bath begins to leak; water, favoring, like history and undergraduate males, the path of least resistance, begins to drip from the light fixture in the hall below.
- The water heater breaks and sends its contents in search of the basement’s low point, which, thanks to Polowski & Sons (who designed your “home”), is on the far side of the carpeted and finished section of the basement.
- The neighbor turns out to be the original Psycho Bitch from Hell.
- Suddenly a bat flutters o’er the Bed of Amorous Intent.
The anecdotes could mount and mount and mount—and let them, says the Barn Jester. What better pastime, what better Tischsprache, than horror stories inching their way right up to the very harrowing of hell (e.g., the sick child who falls asleep on the brand new cream-colored couch and, not waking from his hot fever, produces an Olympian quantity of diarrhea)?
But suppose you find on a newly purchased bit of land an outhouse—solitary, forsaken, and fragrant.
Such did the Barn Jester find behind his new-old barn. Of design passing good (back access to a five gallon bucket hanging from below the Oval Throne) and of placement not altogether ill-conceived (downwind of all else, given normal weather patterns), this privy nevertheless had its faults, chief among them neglect: its cup ranneth over, nor surely did goodness (or mercy) follow it half the days of its life.
Moreover, it was not made to keep 1 and 2 separate, which sound privy design is most solicitous of, nor could sprinkling lime nor ash be found anywhere nearby.
And the gorge—the gorge arose at the sight of its interior.
In consequence of which the Barn Jester purposed in his heart, like Claudius of Hamlet, the present death of Outhouse.
(Unlike Martin Luther, who is said to have arrived at salvation by grace in cloaca, the Barn Jester receives all inspiration on, not above, a stool.)
To the corner of the property, in the bed of a 1983 Dodge Ram pick-up truck (a.k.a. The Babe Magnet), went two wooden pallets and a whole lot of scrap lumber for kindling.
Onto its side went Chloë (for all privies need a nickname).
Threaded into Chloe’s frame went two large eye-hooks made for heavy and unpleasant labor. Twine found on the property—twine doubled and redoubled—went through the hooks and then to the draw bar on a Satoh tractor.
And slowly, to the funereal dirge of the combustion engine, was Chloë drawn across a pasture until at last she lay at rest on her side atop the pallets, base of her future pyre.
In her cavity, on a wall whereon some wag, thinking her a pay toilet, might have written, “Here I sit, broken hearted, / Paid my dime and only farted,” the Barn Jester built a teepee of small dry twigs and then touched it with a match.
The west wind, to which the incomparable Shelley once wrote a great ode, marked the occasion with an accommodating exhalation, and soon, after the addition of the prepared kindling, the immolation was irreversible. Like a living monk of some strange creed, and mayhap to Luther’s dismay, the privy went up in smoke, inspirational toilet seat and all.
Of course no burn permit had been sought. The Barn Jester would not encourage intrusion even by the most localist of governments. In the land of debris and the home of the grave a man ought to be able to send heavenward an outhouse he purchased but did not seek. If he knows how and when to burn earth’s own timber, he needn’t solicit the blessing of a desk jockey who has never wrung the neck of a chicken or shat in the woods under the open eye of heaven.
(And when he gets caught aiming his .22 at the groundhog eating his tomatoes, he will have no need of township legal-counsel-in-pumps (whose writ will cite “ground hog” instead of “groundhog”) to tell him of the “acceptable” way to “dispose of rodents,” which will undoubtedly involve a “live trap” and a short drive to some other farm or a long one to some other county, where the problem will continue, and then increase, in accordance with bureaucratic wishes everywhere.)
Ah, life’s mysteries. Are our crescences meant only for excrescence? If what is inscrutable isn’t susceptible of being scruted, is not scat unscatable? Must we fecate only to defecate? Are our charges given only for discharge?
O Chloë, well-made, ill-cared-for, how the Barn Jester mourns thee! For noble purposes were’t thou made, and yet nobility never visited nor sat upon thee. And when at last thou cam’st into loving care, when at last he who did note thy worth came also to be thy possessor, how fallen in nature and in stature did he find thee, O receiver of spent nutrition!
So didst thou give thy form, nature, and substance to the flames, thou bearer of decarotened carrots, thou depository of unapplied apples, of deleted lettuces, of unbeaten beets, of unencumbered cucumbers, of beef deboefed, of deduced diced dewberries.
But yet what noble Porcher principles, O Cloaca, be thy stem and true descent, thou local home-spun innovative seat and source of decentralist fertilizer! Here in thy ashes, amid the screws and hinges that be thy less true than palpable remains, do I see the mark, indeed the emblem, of thy true being.
Here lies a privy, an outhouse, a Chloë of the first order, a shit house nonpareil (save for its gross neglect).
The Barn Jester’s gloves, be it noted, were added to the pyre, and to a single brow of woe did the whole world’s grief contract.