Columnist for Friday, 1/26 - Cindy

Excremeditation.

So occasionally I run into the question: Why do men spend so much time sitting on the can? Inevitably, this bewilders women, who are on the toilet and off again as if they'd sat on a tack. Men don't really question why, it's just something they do.

So you'll excuse me a moment while I wax anthropological. If you think I'm making unwarranted accusations full of gross gender bias, feel free to come up with your own damn theory.

Men are fascinated with just about everything that comes out of their asses. With all the hand-wringing about "it's what's inside that counts" and the various metaphors about looking beneath the surface, whatever comes out their asses is pretty much the closest they get to solid factual data about their internal machinations. It's a deeply spiritual part of defining themselves.

When women fart, they pretend it didn't happen. If they're particularly self-confident they'll acknowledge it with a quick apology and move on. But men try to smell it. Men try to catch a hint of whatever it was they had for lunch hiding in the odor. Another man's fart is fundamentally offensive (in the most literal meaning of the term), but they secretly *love* their own farts.

Men check out their shit. They may not always come out and tell the world "man, I laid the thickest log back there", but they *think* about saying it. They *want* to tell the world. Both men and women enjoy the nearly religious fervor of a monster shit (don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about) but with men it's the closest they'll ever really get to childbirth so they make more of it.

Sure, it only takes 20 or 30 seconds for the purely physical part of the act, but there's a certain emotional involvement that's important for men that doesn't seem essential for women. They need a little foreplay and time afterwards to relax in the quiet peace that follows. A good bathroom book with properly masculine witticisms is like a familiar hand to hold as they bask in the afterglow (recommendations include Ambrose Bierce, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, Far Side compilations and anything by Michael Moorcock). Of course, the instructions on a shampoo bottle will do in a pinch.

As surely as it did 10,000 years ago, shit scares away interlopers. It defines territory. When a man is taking a shit, that room is *his*. If someone stumbles in and he's on the crapper they apologize fearfully and run away, which sends a *very* clear message to the psyche. The toilet is the throne of all he surveys. At the same time, though, he's in a childlike pose of vulnerability: He's all alone, pants around this ankles, unable to stand, but paradoxically able to drive away anyone who dares invade his territory. This duality may not make sense to the conscious mind, but it sends a primal scream to the reptilian essence in the brainstem. Shit is power. Power is shit.

So why do men spend so much time taking a simple shit?

"How is it that you hear the grasshopper at your feet?" asked the Shaolin disciple Kwai Chang Caine.

"Ask not how it is that I can hear the grasshopper," chided his wise Master Po. "Ask instead how it is that you do not."


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