Stinky is a sad, lonely chap. Even though he is as much a companion to those in rags as he is to those with riches, few seem to be proud to call him friend. Instead, when he shows up, cozy clicks seem to scatter, or his presence is met with utterances of disdain. They turn their nose up at him, sometimes waving wildly with hands (or anything they can get their hands on). Sometimes they giggle and blush. Some even audaciously proclaims that he stinks! Have they no heart?! Is it the cologne he wears or perhaps the way he combs his hair? THAT’S IT – he’s asking for his money back! Maybe he should buy a hat while he is at it.
It wasn’t always this way, you know...
There was a time when Stinky was received with open arms. Aaah, those were the days. In ancient Roman times the public toilet was quite the common place to meet – a thoroughly social event in fact, much unlike today. They didn’t have cubicles back then and Stinky felt welcome indeed: a friend to one, a friend to all! Oh boy! Oh boy! You never knew who you would get to sit next to. Granted, not everyone stayed long, but sometimes Stinky got to make a new friend.
Another fond memory for Stinky was his days in London back in the 1500’s. There were no proper sewage system, just a sloped ditch conveying waste to the Thames river and eventually out to sea. Stinky roamed free! It wasn’t too long before he was a permanent companion in every home, warm and snug in front of the fireplace with a good book, a cooked dinner or just quality time with the family. Things seemed to be going well until the Cholera epidemic in the 1800’s. Someone had to be blamed. Who do you think? Of course they blamed it on the Stink!
Stinky heard rumours that a certain Thomas Crapper was plotting his demise by inventing the first modern flush toilet, but Stinky knew the truth all along: it was Sir John Harrington and his “water closet” back in the 16th century. (Thomas Crapper was only born around 60 years later.) Stinky Holmes... hmm. It had a nice ring to it.
I vaguely remember stories told during my childhood in the late 1900’s – the very late 1900’s – about the outhouse. (In plain English it is pretty much the term for a small enclosure – usually apart from the main building - around a hole in the ground – used as a toilet.) From the stories I can remember those outhouses were often a place of mischief, pranks and much laughter for kids growing up on the farm. The notion of an enclosed cubicle really cramped Stinky’s style.
Whether you call it “patente” in Brazil, “dunny / thunderbox” in Australia, “long drop” in New Zealand, “biffy” in Minnesota or “kybo” in Vermont... Stinky slowly became an outcast. Instead of the social butterfly he once was, he had been banished to a small, dark little box around a hole in the ground; one side... all alone. Occasionally someone would drop by, but sometimes they wouldn’t stay very long. Winter was the worse. Not only was the company scarce but no one could possibly have a meaningful conversation over the loud clutter of teeth.
I don’t know about Stinky, but a song always seems to cheer me up. I wonder if he knows this parody of "Downtown" (summer camp folklore):
When you are sleepy and it's time to go peepee there's a place to go... kybo When you are droopy and it's time to go poopy there's a place to go... kybo Just listen to the rhythm of the froggies in the toilet, Even though it's smelly I am sure you will enjoy it The lights are not on in there, but you forget all your worries, Forget all your cares in the kybo Is not it fun to go... kybo
Despite his loneliness Stinky has to admit that some of the ‘joints’ he used to hang out in pales (by far) in comparison to some of the hoity toity luxury bathrooms he is privy to visit nowadays: the beautiful colours and designs, the tiny hand soaps – one per customer - the heated towels, the couch and chairs. He might still not really be welcomed with open arms, but life is good and Lavender sure is a pretty lookin’ lady. Who knows... maybe love is in the air? They say “opposites attract”!
* Kybo brand coffee (Motto: a cup full of satisfaction). The cans contained the lye (or lime) used to minimize the odour.