Crumb

Crumb: (n) a small particle of bread, cake, etc., that has broken off.

Mrs. Venetti was old.

This is the nicest thing I can say about her.

She was sure of herself.

Having become so assured of her own perfection, she launched out, attempting to perfect the world around her.

I knew her because, for some reason or another, my parents insisted I call her “Aunt,” even though we were not related. (I later discovered that she had money and my parents were intrigued by it.)

So this woman, who had the answer for every problem and an extra problem or two available if you were lacking, quickly made the decision that she did not like me.

She had an organ in her home that I enjoyed playing–until she heard my rocking and rolling. She explained that the German technician who maintained it told her that my fingers were too fat and heavy and might damage it.

Organ-less.

Her house was perfect.

(What other kind of house would a perfect woman have?)

Only one time when I visited her (at the behest of my parents) did she offer me something to eat. It was a single cheese slice, wrapped in cellophane. Unfortunately, I peered at it too long before dismantling and eating it and she accused me of being ungrateful.

Cheese-less.

But she had a favorite word for me.

She loved to call me “crumb.”

She even had derivations.

Sometimes it was crumb.

Other times crummy.

When she was particularly perturbed, I was referred to as crumbum.

Along with the insult came a snarling at the lips, a look of superiority mingled with loveless pity. She always asked me to walk slowly through her house so as not to knock over knick-knacks with my heavy steps.

She was an unpleasant woman who had to be viewed as tolerable because she had money.

Although it’s been proclaimed that money can’t buy everything, the few things it doesn’t purchase don’t appear to be very popular.

She never liked me—and when I was young, it ate at the left corner of my soul, threatening to create a hole from which all my hope was prepared to drain.

Then one day, God—in his infinite wisdom and grace—gave this fat boy with chubby fingers and heavy feet a gift. Sitting in her living room, entertaining some friends, barely tolerating my presence, Mrs. Venetti suddenly farted.

And not only farted—she pooped her pants.

Everybody quickly rose to assist her, which increased her embarrassment, causing her to become livid, threatening everyone in sight.

I sat very still.

I knew I was going to need to laugh about this—but now was not the time. Yet I did not want to lose the reservoir of humor building up inside me.

So I remained motionless.

After everyone carefully lifted “Auntie” from her chair, which she had sullied, and taken her into the bathroom, I ran out the front door, down the street, around the corner…and laughed.

I did not do it very long because after a few moments, it seemed cruel.

But the first fifteen or sixteen cackles healed that left corner of my soul.

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Crooked

Crooked: (adj) dishonest, not straightforward

 

There are certain things you remember:

The first time you rode a rollercoaster.

Your initial encounter with peanut butter.

How about the premiere kiss?

An award given in front of an applauding audience.

An orgasm.

An amount of money that crosses your hands that’s more than y you can imagine.

But I also clearly remember the first time somebody called me “crooked.”

I was so pissed. I didn’t consider myself crooked. I thought I was being thrifty. I viewed my efforts as ingenious.

For you see, I checked into a motel room with three other friends. We could only afford the single rate, so I purchased it for me alone. Then the other three arrived, scurrying around the back of the establishment to my front door, laughing that we had pulled off our little decoy.

Matter of fact, I think we were still giggling, high-fiving each other, when there was a knock at the door. I quickly silenced everyone in the room and motioned for them to go into the bathroom. I would handle whatever the intrusion happened to be.

When I opened the door, there was the front desk clerk. He demanded entrance. I acted offended. “What do you want?” I asked.

In broken English, he clearly exclaimed, “You bring more people in room! You lie! You cheat!”

Not sure what else to do, I invited him in, thinking he would walk around the beds, and see nobody else in the space—never believing he would actually open up the bathroom. So when he headed in that direction, I had to decide whether to deter him or just let it play out.

He was too fast for me. He was already opening the door. The bathroom was empty. But he was a persistent young man. He quickly pulled back the shower curtain. There were my three friends, standing in the tub, trying desperately to imitate invisibility. Finally one of my buddies burst out laughing—frightened nerves.

The young desk clerk exclaimed, “You must leave room now!”

I reached for my wallet to offer him the extra funds that would cover the four of us, but he would have none of it.

“No money,” he said, pushing my wallet away. “You lie. You cheat. You go.”

He headed toward the door, and I spoke, hoping to rationalize my actions. “Listen, man,” I said, “we were just trying to save money. We’re just kids. We’re broke. You know?”

He turned, looked me right in the eyes and said:

“You not kids. You not broke. You crooked.”

He immediately stepped out of the room and disappeared, coming back five minutes later to stand next to our van, to make sure we loaded up and left.

As is often the case with a quartet of individuals, there were four different takes on the event: one scared, one acting like he wasn’t part of it from the start, one indignant—wanting to go buy a dozen eggs and pelt the place.

And then there was me.

I was quiet, chilled to my soul.

I was bruised by being called “crooked.”

I didn’t view myself as deceitful, just clever.

But I learned that night that clever is crooked if it’s not honest.

 

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Crapper

Crapper: (vulgar) a toilet or bathroom

Every once in a while, I get in one of those misty-eyed moods, when I consider how pissy and shitty the planet will be once I zoom away.

It is totally self-indulgent, foolish and tends to ignore the nature of others, who press on after grief has had its season. But during one of those self-piteous sessions, I occasionally consider my legacy.

How will I be remembered? funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Or will all the collections of my works, writings, music and movies be loaded into a box and placed in a corner to either waste away or later be discovered by one of my great-great-great-somebodies, who is really shocked to find out, first of all, that I lived, and second, that I “made stuff?”

Usually I am able to set myself back into a psychologically reasonable nature by pondering the life, times and memories of Thomas Crapper.

Yes. He lived and was real.

He was an English plumber who founded the Thomas Crapper Company in London, held nine patents and (hold for applause) perfected the floating ball-cock on the toilet.

He also is the inventor of the plumbing trap—and contrary to Webster’s definition, we often refer to the porcelain seat-of-honor in our lavatory as “the crapper”—not to be vulgar, but in honor of Old Tom-boy.

I cannot tell you that I want to be known for something so utilitarian, and also an invention that is capable of receiving such ridicule.

But you have to admit, it beats going through your life without having your ball-cock float.


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Counterclockwise

Counterclockwise: (adj) in a direction opposite to that of the normal rotation of the hands of a clock

At the risk of admitting that I am the Duke of Doofus, I will tell you that if someone asks me to do something “counterclockwise,” I must stop, close my eyes, see a clock in my mind and reverse my path.

It’s one of those directions you often see on paper or hear given by an instructor which seems to be no problem whatsoever to some folks—and leaves me funny wisdom on words that begin with a Creeling.

I have the same sensation when I’m told to go east or west, north or south. If the sun is obviously in its morning or late afternoon position, I can occasionally pull it off but if it has snuck over my head, I am lost.

It reminds me of the time I was in the hospital, had just returned to my room after an operation and needed to go to the bathroom. I was supposed to keep my weight off my left leg, so I asked the nurse how I would be able to travel to the bathroom without injuring myself.

Her response was, “Can you hop?”

I froze.

I had not hopped since I was a small child and felt pretty certain that I would never be ‘hoppy’ again—or that if I tried, it would be a very “un-hoppy” ending.

Please forgive me for this. If you must have a laugh at my expense, just place it on my account. We will need such a running tab, for there will be more to come.


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Commode

Commode: (n) a concealed chamber pot

Unexpectedly and much to my surprise, during the news cycle recently, “shithole” became a point of discussion.

Even though I find myself to be a person of some insight, and maybe even able to offer a prediction from time to time, “shithole” sideswiped me.

It reminded me of being a young man and having to deal with the subject of the bathroom.

Since most people don’t take baths anymore, and were unwilling to call it the “shower room,” relegating that to sporting facilities, we do need a name for that very important sanctuary for our natural release.

Truthfully, lots of folks are repulsed by the word “toilet.”

“Potty,” aside from being extraordinarily pretentious, also is now tied to a potty-mouth, which means you are susceptible to using all sorts of foul language and profanity.

Yet even though it has become part of the commentating on television, “shithole” is a little strong for me. It’s the kind of thing a bully would say to you when you walked out of the restroom in highschool, to make you feel uncomfortable.

“How’d it go in the shithole?!”

Of course, there is no appropriate response to the question: “The shithole was fine!” Or, “I don’t call it a shithole. I call it a commode.”

No, I have never referred to the porcelain fixture in the water closet as either a loo or a shithole.

I’m actually without terminology.

Sometimes I try variants–to see if there might be a favored word among my friends. But I’m still confused at how to express for a significant part of my journey.

I neither “take a shit,” nor do I “poop.” Nor have I done any “loaf pinching.”

I have referred to it as porcelain, but not a throne.

And of all the terms, “dump,” for me, is the least appealing.

I think the secret code we developed as children still has some universal possibility:

Simply hold up one finger–or two–to announce one’s intention.

 

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Colon

Colon: (n) large intestine or large bowel

Talk about “it’s a dirty job but somebody’s gotta do it.”

How’d you like to be a colon?

“What’s your job, Mr. Colon?”

“My entire function is to take the shit to the hole.”

I’ve had two colonoscopies in my life. That’s where they go into your intestine with a camera to make sure that it’s ooey-gooey and doing its job. They want to confirm that you don’t have cancer or polyps, which are possible precursors of the disease.

The first time I had a colonoscopy I went into the hospital feeling really bad. A beautiful young woman from China was my doctor. She was so sweet–but I knew
she thought I had cancer. It’s not that I believed I was free of the affliction, but I saw no particularly good reason to etch my tombstone until I had more information.

So they prepared me for the whole process.

The day before the event they brought in a gallon of fluid and told me to drink all of it in as short amount of time as possible. The drink loosens the bowels and empties everything inside–or at least, everything that is willing to be dislodged.

I was faithful. I pooped until my poop looked like water. (And that is a little weird.)

Well, long story short, she went in with her camera and found out there was no cancer and gave me a clean bill of health.

What I remember most about that experience is the legitimate joy on her face when she came to tell me I was alright. It was so intimate, tender and childlike that I teared up and cried.

Was I crying over her gentleness, or was it releasing tension I didn’t know I had about the possible diagnosis?

I don’t know. But it was beautiful.

So every time I go to the bathroom–well, nearly every time–I think about my colon and how patient it is to do its job.

And I also think about someone who was a complete stranger to me–a doctor–who possessed such empathy that she took a moment of grace and the memory of it will last for my whole lifetime.

 

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Clench

Clench: (n) a contraction or tightening of part of the body.

Most of the time, things work the way they’re supposed to. Just stop for a second and think about that.

Even though we might want to portray that life is bumpy, it’s really more like a pothole every hundred miles.

In our everyday existence, food goes into the mouth, is enjoyed, digested and gradually finds a normal exit. Yet every once in a while, the system is disrupted. A
little bit of chicken is left out too long. A jar of mayonnaise welcomes in unfriendly microbes.

For whatever reason, our stomachs suddenly become very upset. (Huh. I guess that’s why they call it an “upset stomach.”) At that point the human gut is single-minded: “Whatever is in me needs to get the hell out as quickly as possible.”

As you well know, there is a northern route for this process and a southern route. Sometimes it’s better to go north. Yes, regurgitation is very unnatural but very quick, and produces some immediate relief. If not, you will wait a little longer for the bowels to become completely possessed.

Now, as a typical person, I have found myself driving a car, sitting among friends or nowhere near a bathroom when one of these fits and contortions decides to invade.

At that point, I clench my buttocks.

In more merciful moments, the body sends a notice that “there is a flood coming to Johnstown, Pennsylvania,” but relents to the clenching, disappearing for a few minutes, hopefully providing enough time for me to get to an appropriate disposal.

But every once in a great while, the body has absolutely no willingness to be clenched. I guess it would be accurate to say that the bowels suddenly have a mind of their own. The brain sends an urgent message: “The dam is about to break–protect all women and children!”

If you are willing to heed the warning, you might make it to the toilet of your choice.

But if you don’t listen and you think one more clench should do it, you more than likely will find yourself religiously sitting in your own “pugh.”

 

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