When I was growing up in Ohio, our little farmhouse had an outhouse. We didn’t use it, of course, but we would paint it when it started chipping, knock the wasp’s nests off of it when they began to show up in the summers, and peer curiously into its butt-size seat hole when we’d use it for concealment in games of Hide & Seek.
My mom used to tell my sister and me about the days just after she and my dad got married in the 70s, before they built a bathroom onto our house. The two of them actually did use the outhouse as if it was a normal toilet back then and would just drive up the road to my grandparents’ house to shower every morning. Sometimes when my mom would have a hard time pushing her poop out–and I can tell you this because she’s dead now and likely won’t be able to do anything about it–my dad would bring a glass of hot water or milk to the outhouse in the middle of the night to help her out.
Can you imagine this? It’s the dead of winter, the ground is covered in snow, and you have to trek out across the yard in your parka to get to the bathroom. And once you’re there, you have to sit in this unheated little wooden room, shivering and still half-asleep.
AMAZING! And, you know, my parents only did it for a year, I think, which is crazy enough. But I wondered to myself today: who lived in our farmhouse before us, and what the hell were they doing without a bathroom?