Trigger warning: poo poo, toilets, assault.
It’s New Year’s Eve and I have just paid five hundred U.S. dollars to get a poo poo removed from my toilet after three months. In many ways, this is good—what an opportunity, to be able to start anew with no poo poo where it does not belong, a terrific way to start from zero and set the bar extremely low for success in the coming year. If I’m not out an average week’s pay for a poo-related problem on the eve of 2020, I have succeeded.
This is not the first time there has been a sustained poo poo-in-toilet issue at the Loftus household, “household” being a term used loosely here to describe a small bedroom and bathroom occupied by one person on the bottom floor of a house. It’s not a nice house, but it’s reasonably affordable accommodations for a writer who sends strongly worded emails at the end of jobs and is rarely invited to return. The reason the poo poo is there is always the same reason, and that reason is shame, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Can you live with a poo poo in your toilet for that long? With regrets, you can. You can if your door shuts tight and there’s a second shower upstairs. You can close the door and take a daily shit at the library down the street, except on Sundays when the library is closed, and then you don’t shit as a way of making a solemn and useless point to yourself. You can if you have developed a superhuman way to mythologize an unflushed poo poo into everything you feel is wrong with yourself and an excuse to never let anyone in your home under any circumstances.
The reason the poo poo did not flush, you should know, is not due to the mightiness, girth or density of the poo poo itself, and here is where I’ll put a second brief trigger warning for those who don’t mind reading about poo poo but do mind reading about men who rufie people. When I was twenty-three, I wanted a cat. I wanted a cat because I had gone through a breakup and was on this terrible bipolar medication that made me sweat all the time. I was linked to someone looking to get his cat adopted—let’s call him the man with no cat—from a man who sent pictures and a name that was real and said he needed to give his cat away on account of moving to Japan for work. This all checked out online. I let the man with no cat, who at that time had convinced me was flush with cat, know he could meet me after a show I was doing in a public place to talk logistics, let the people who ran the show know he’d be coming so I’d feel safe, and met the man with no cat and spoke with the person and got a drink.
In retrospect, there was no cat. What there was was something slipped into my beer (two of two) in a bar I thought I had taken enough precautions to be looked out for, a huge lapse of not remembering anything at all, a vague memory of falling on concrete, and then feeling sick and somehow back in my room, but the man with no cat was there, too. Some fuzzy memories of telling him to leave, being yelled at because he couldn’t afford the Uber from my house, a wine bottle being thrown by him onto my bathroom floor because I ‘wasn’t listening,’ him on his knees picking up glass. I know I got him to leave, and I know for goddamn sure I didn’t get a cat.
What I did get was tested for STDs the next morning, and I got a fucking hamster. One angry text warning the man with no cat to never contact me again. I didn’t call the police because I had already tried that route during my first assault go-round a few years earlier, and it hadn’t gone anywhere. I wanted a pet and I wanted to be left alone and I didn’t want the additional burden of trying to get someone else to care. I was embarrassed and ashamed, even if I wouldn’t have felt that way about it happening to anyone else. When it’s you, it’s just different.
Back to the poo poo in my toilet I was telling you about. The man with no cat had tried to flush all the glass from the wine bottle he’d thrown in the toilet, over and over. I picked out the shards of what I could see with my hands, and a few weeks later it wouldn’t flush. I fixed it myself. Then it wouldn’t again. The toilet was where the glass was, and the glass was (aside from a wine bottle opener I’d hidden in a drawer) the only physical memory of the man with no cat that I was trying to forget about. I let the problem keep happening because having to fix it over and over made me feel like I was being rightfully punished for something without having to explain it to anyone else. But eventually, I called a plumber and my toilet flushed.
A year passed, and in 2018 it happened again. The poo poo would not flush and I remembered why and instead of doing something I shut the bathroom door. While the poo poo was in the toilet, I fell in love. While the poo poo was in the toilet, my grandma died but she was really a terrible person, so awful that her funeral was cancelled due to lack of interest, so it’s not that I was sad but the point is the poo poo was alive and she was not. While the poo poo was in the toilet, I did mushrooms in a cabin upstate and cried about the poo poo for three hours or what felt like three hours, but when I got home from the cabin and the crying I left the door shut. No shitting on Sundays. A new branch of shame for having told someone about the poo poo and still not doing anything about it out of fear and anxiety.
Shame is like a DVD copy of Family Guy Season 4 in that it is easy to acquire on accident and can be difficult to get rid of without embarrassing yourself. In a lot of cases, shame is a well-concealed subconscious haunting, and sometimes there is a poo poo in your toilet for three months, twice.
A lot of work I’ve done is based in the chronic overshare, having grown up and started working professionally during the brief but powerful age of social media where you felt like you could truly say and do anything and not have that information bought, sold and used against you. Some of these overshares were empowering—coming forward about being raped and abused while in college, making friends I still have online—and a lot of it was stupid, getting on-screen colonics and leech bleedings for lots of views and no money. The first person industrial complex, if pursued far enough, will inevitably result in anal penetration for little or no pay if you need to pay the rent that badly.
I don’t like the chronic overshare as much now—it turns out that having loving relationships and rancid toilet poo poos that you don’t compulsively talk about can be empowering in its own way, and having an interior life that isn’t performed for whoever cares to engage with it isn’t just healthy, but necessary.
But here I am, telling you about the poo poo in my toilet, because a projected self isn’t free of shame and you don’t know what the situation is with their toilet. When I got it fixed on New Year’s Eve they finally found the glass from the wine bottle, a whole label over two years old in the plumbing that the first plumber had missed, the one that the man with no cat was trying so hard to get rid of before I willed him out of my life without consequence.
Every part of me knows that no one should leave a poo poo in their toilet that long, and that the reasons the poo poo ended up there had everything to do with a man who had no cat and a lot of anger for a person whose rufies weren’t as strong as they thought. Beneath that is the shame of shutting down after it happened, and the shame of not attempting to report to the police even after a disastrous first go-round, then the shame that comes from not telling anyone because it’s embarrassing, and the shame that comes from letting time pass without fixing things, then the shame from tossing a Glade plug-in in every two weeks just in case, and the shame that it can be too exhausting and frustrating and time-consuming to defend yourself when you’ve got bills to pay, and the shame that comes from admitting to someone that you’re not fixing things because even thinking about the reasons you can’t open the bathroom door are ten layers of sub-shame beneath the actual reason. I didn’t really let myself think about it until the poo poo was gone, but the poo poo was a metaphor. As well as a real poo poo, which is too bad.
There is a very boring end to this piece that is very quotable about “dealing with your shit” that you can draft yourself if you want, but I don’t want to. It feels cheap. And you should definitely take what I, a woman who literally was roommates with a poo poo for three months, have to say very seriously.
Anyways, my toilet works now but makes these angry noises every thirteen seconds that keep me awake all night. Please don’t come over.
Jamie Loftus is a comedian, writer and social media victim of the International Olympic Committee. She’s the creator and star of the Comedy Central online original series Irrational Fears. You can find her some of the time, most days at @jamieloftusHELP or jamieloftusisinnocent.com.