The Puru has begun making house calls. The house (that is) of the Lord. Last night, I found myself at Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn, eating latkes and eggplant parmesan alongside two dozen too-cool-for-religious school 7th and 8th graders. Following dinner, they lit the candles and sang Chanukkah songs while I drank ginger ale and worried about how this crowd would react to what I had to say. And then I was on.
Most Jewish occasions are consecrated over food, which is itself consecrated by a blessing. Religious schools teach these blessings, well, religiously, and these kids knew them by heart. None of them knew, however, that there's also a blessing for the other side of the food equation, called the Asher Yatzar.
I love this blessing. The basic translation is "Dear God, Thank you for making a body with many holes and openings. Should any of them ever come open when they shouldn't, or close up when they shouldn't, I would really be in trouble. Seriously, thanks."
Earlier that day, I had taken myself to the doctor after feeling for two weeks like I was in danger of wetting myself inopportunely. (Ironic, I know, for the poop guy to suddenly have pee-pee problems, but the world works in mysterious ways...) After a flirtation with adult diapers (more on that soon) and two days on antibiotics, I not only have a renewed respect for modern medicine, but also for the importance of a working urinary and digestive tract. You might say it's the best holiday gift one could receive.
But that would be corny. So instead, and in honor of the last night of Chanukkah, the impending Christmas, solstice, Kwanzaa, etc., I give you:
EIGHT FESTIVE NY FECAL FIELD TRIPS
1. After that afternoon coffee, make a pit stop at the Bryant Park public facilities, which were nominated for a 2010 Best Restroom Award. Feel free to stop and smell the fresh cut flowers on your way in.
2. For a few years now, the Charmin toilet paper company has taken advantage of the holidays to provide a Times Square home for all those tourist tushes out there. It's all part of their "Enjoy the Go" campaign, and this year's offerings include the ability to poop in all 50 states.
3. For the technologically interested, WIRED has opened up a kinky-cool space on Broadway and 4th Street showcasing all sorts of gadgets and doo-hickeys, including the Envirolet FlushSmart Composting Toilet System. Don't get caught with your pants down--the store is only open Wed-Sun until Dec. 26, and the composting commode is only for viewing.
5. Head on out Dec. 15 for the free launch party of the new essay collection Toilets: Public Restrooms and the Politics of Sharing edited by Harvey Molotch and Laura Noren. 5:30-8, FREE + wine & cheese, but you gotta RSVP.
6. Let the internet help you put the reason back into the season. Click here to watch the episode that started it all: Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo.
7. Consider giving the gift that's both green and a little gross. There are a few companies making beautiful stationary, picture frames and more out of all sorts of recycled poop. Check out Haathi Chaap for paper primarily made from elephant poo, options of elephant, cow, horse, and panda PooPooPaper or even Sheep Poo Paper. Just think: if you move to Wales then it could be YOUR job to pick up all those pellets!
8. Join The POOP Project on Monday, Dec. 27 at 7:00pm for a hilariously highfalutin reading of Jonathan Swift's 18th century scatological poetry. Hosted by Swift's Hibernian Lounge.
Wishing you a very happy holiday season and, as always, peaceful pooping!
Shawn "The Puru" Shafner