on a weirdly scatological note



(Author’s note: This anecdote was recorded back in March. The reason it surfaces now, months later, is simple: There is none. Though news of a record-setting coprolite for sale might have something to do with it.)

Last Friday my cousin Lanine pooped her pants. She’s 34 years old, by the way. Allow me to set the scene: It is 5:30, early evening, a still-sunny, pleasant spring day drawing to a close in the Renton Highlands, southeast of Seattle. The three of us—me, Lanine, and her half-brother Spencer—are sitting outside our cousin Tina’s house, waiting for her and her boyfriend, Mike, to get home and let us in. We’re just stopping by to visit. Earlier we had driven through a McDonald’s, as per Spencer’s request, and treated him with a Happy Meal. (Spencer is five.) Lanine, claiming to be parched, ordered a Diet Dr. Pepper. She sipped furiously at it on the way to Tina’s. This would prove to be an unfortunate choice.

So we’re waiting outside the house. I’m sitting on the front steps, Spencer is playing with his Happy Meal toy—a puzzle of some sort—on the driveway, and Lanine is on her phone, looking harried. Tina had texted Lanine that they were 15 minutes away, half an hour ago. Lanine is acting sort of strange: pacing the driveway, talking little, wearing an anxious, pinched expression on her face. I ask her what’s wrong.

“I have to go to the bathroom. Like, really bad. I’d just pop a squat in the yard, but it’s not that kind, you know?”

“Oh my god, Lanine. Can’t it wait, like, ten more minutes? They’re supposed to be here any time now, right?”

“They better be. I don’t know if I can make it. It must’ve been the Dr. Pepper. I seriously might just shit in their yard, like a dog.” I’m laughing at her, but in the space of a few minutes I gather that she’s not joking about this yard-pooping thing. She seems grimly resolved, resigned to her fate, as if the option of using a toilet is already a forgone scenario. Tina and Mike are too late. There’s no way she’s going to make it, not a chance.

Lanine makes up her mind. “Okay, I’m going over to the side of the house. Don’t come over there.”

I can’t help but laugh. Spencer, looking up from his puzzle toy, says, “Ewww, my sister is nasty. She’s gonna poop in their yard like a dog! She’s so nasty.”

“I know!” Clearly, I’m rather amused by this. “She is pretty nasty, isn’t she? I hope she doesn’t tell Tina about it, and just leaves it for them to discover later.”

“Yeah…” Spencer trails off, focusing again on his toy. I stand there and twiddle my thumbs, waiting for something to happen.

Five minutes later Tina and Mike pull into the driveway. Lanine is still behind the house. “Guess what Lanine’s doing right now?!” Spencer crows.

Tina, looking rather grim herself, says, “I know what she’s doing.” She shakes her head. “She’s been texting me the whole time.”


For almost forty-five minutes we—Tina, Mike, Spencer and I—sit in the living room, chatting about the NCAA while Lanine cleans herself up. The text exchange between Lanine and Tina during that fateful 20-minute period sums up essentially what went down (and I paraphrase):

Tina (5:46): We’re stuck in traffic. Probably be home closer to 6.

Lanine (5:47): OK. I’m gonna shit in the yard. I can’t hold it, sorry.

Tina (5:51): LOL, just wait. We’re ten minutes away

Lanine (6:01): OK, I shit in my pants. It is messy. Couldn’t do that to your lawn. I’m waiting by the side of the house.

Tina (6:05): OMG.

Afterward Lanine was remarkably stoic about the ordeal. “Yeah, that was real shitty, literally. I think it must’ve been the caffeine in the pop? I don’t know, I just had to let go a little bit, and then my stomach sort of heaved, and then it just all came out. You know what I mean?” I replied that yes, maybe, if I had giardia or food poisoning or something. But from a diet soda? That seemed strange.

“Well, it’s happened to me before. It’s like, uncontrollable, you know?” She intimated that this exact scenario happened not infrequently, maybe once every couple months. I asked if possibly she had irritable bowel syndrome, some kind of gastrointestinal malady?

“I think it’s just the caffeine. I don’t drink it that often, and when I do, it’s like bam! Have to shit.” That’s my cousin Lanine. Real, frank, extemporaneous.

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