Friday, June 24, 2011

Inside Out

We all know there are cultural differences between nations.  Many of us realize there are cultural differences between areas in our own country.  For example, my friends from Wisconsin call Pepsi “soda”.  I grew up in California and we always called it “pop”.  My friend from Minnesota calls the evening meal "supper", I call it "dinner."

You say tomato, I say tomahto.  Go ahead, sing along.

My kids now live in Oregon, but they are true born and bred Alaskans.  The reason I know this is because they have both, at different times, expressed amazement at the bathrooms found at roadside rest stops in Oregon

They were impressed enough to call home about them.  

The bathrooms down there have flushing toilets, running water, toilet paper and paper towels.  I know they aren’t making this phenomena up because I had the privilege of experiencing one last summer.

It’s true.  And it's quite a culture shock.

Our roadside bathrooms in Alaska aren’t quite like that.  They are, very simply put, outhouses.  They smell bad.  If you’re lucky, they have toilet paper.  (It’s always a good idea to go in prepared in case they don’t.)  Our outhouses don’t even have lights.  That’s not a problem in the summer, but in the winter you’d better park your car where your headlights can illuminate what you’re doing. 

You definitely don’t want to be stumbling around in there.

There is another option, you know.

One sunny weekend about twenty years ago, my little family had the opportunity to go camping across the bay.  The boat ride over was going to take a while, so I insisted my six year old daughter use the bathroom at the boat dock. 

I figured her little brother would be okay if he had to go.

When we opened the outhouse door, I knew I was in trouble.  It was really, really bad.  My little girl refused to use the “icky potty.”  I honestly couldn’t blame her, but it was our only option.  After much cajoling, pleading, begging and threatening, she finally broke down and went potty. 

I didn’t.  I knew I could hold it.

When we reached our destination a couple of hours later,  she informed me that she had to go potty again.  So, I grabbed a roll of toilet paper and we headed out to find a good spot in the woods. 

She didn’t get it at first.  She kept asking me where the potty was.  When she finally understood what was expected of her, she started crying and wailed, "Mommy!  I want to go back to the icky potty by the boats!”

Know what?  I did too.

Maybe some things defy culture and speak to personal preference. 

I prefer to be inside the outhouse.

1 comment:

  1. Having experienced all types of potties as actual ways of life at different times of my life, I can go anywhere. And having those experiences, I am very thankful for a bathroom with running water, hot and cold at the sink and shower, and for my flushing toilet. My funniest outhouse story is from my childhood - my older sister had ventured in to use one and came running back giggling hysterically. "They really DO have the Sears catalog in there!" (Our mother had told us of keeping the old catalog in the outhouse both to look at and to tear out pages for toilet paper.)