There should be a rule, posted on a great big sign above your toilet, sayin’ strangers are only allowed to go Number One in your bathroom.
Minnie told me I was crazy at first, but even she started to come around after what happened last week.
It was just after supper and we were havin’ the tea when there was a knock at the front door. Now, this is Cape Breton, and nobody you ever want to see comes knockin’ on your front door. Friends, family, people who actually know ya, they come to the back door, and they usually walk right in without knockin’ because they know they’re always welcome.
But no, the knock came at the front door. Uggh cripes, I says to Minnie. It’s either a bill collector or somebody lookin’ for a donation.
Sure enough I go and answer it and it’s this skinny little older fella with thick glasses, holdin’ a clipboard. He was collectin’ for one of them diseases – he started to tell me which one but then he spotted Minnie behind me and starts askin’ her how everybody’s doin’ – how’s Cyril and Joan? how’s Betty and that big fella she married?
And just as Minnie’s startin’ to answer him, the old fella says – Listen, ya wouldn’t mind if I used your bathroom for a second, would ya? It’s gettin’ awful chilly out there.
Now right there is why I argued with Minnie afterwards that the old fella lied to us. If somebody says they have to use the bathroom because it’s awful chilly outside, ya naturally think their back teeth are floatin’. By sayin’ it like that, he pretty much came right out and told us he just needed to duck in the bathroom for a minute and take a leak.
So Minnie says – Sure, I’ll show ya where it is, and then she gumboots it upstairs ahead of him. Now, I know Minnie, and she don’t like people seein’ her business, so I knew she was runnin’ upstairs kick the dirty clothes and junk far enough into the kids’ bedrooms and our room so she could close all the doors.
There ya go, I heard her say, when the old fella finally made it to the top of the stairs.
Who’s he? I whispered to her after she came back down.
I didn’t recognize him right away, she said, but that’s Red Angus – he worked in the mine years ago with Da and Uncle Sonny. I never seen him in years – did he ever get old lookin’.
She was rootin’ around in her purse but couldn’t find any change to give him for a donation. So then we looked in the junk drawer to see if there was a spare twonie or loonie floatin’ around, but we didn’t find anything.
Oh! she says. I always get a couple of bucks in change from your pockets whenever I do the wash, and she heads downstairs to dig through my dirty pants in the basket on top of washer.
My own wife! I said, pretendin’ to be outraged. Stealin’ money from my pockets right in my own house! And all the way back up the stairs she was givin’ it to me good about how I could wash my own damn pants if that’s how I felt about it and on an on.
We were still half-arguin’ about how much money she musta stole from my pockets over the years when I realized the old fella was still upstairs.
Oohhhh no. I said, puttin’ two and two together. No, no, no.
Relax, Billy, Minnie whispered. He’s an old fella, and it probably just takes him a while.
No way, I said to her. Don’t matter how old ya are, if it’s a straightforward standin’ job, it shouldn’t take any more than a couple of minutes round trip. I’m tellin’ ya – he’s sittin’ up there, probably readin’ the Uncle John Bathroom Reader the kids gave me for Christmas, stinkin’ the place up.
Minnie just looked at me, but with a little wrinkle between her eyebrows, which told me she knew I was right.
He took so long, we went back out to the kitchen and I choked down the rest of my tea between gruntin’ and cursin’ about it.
Finally, we heard the toilet flush and the old fella practically bounced down the stairs, lookin’ like he felt ten pounds lighter. I thought I was gonna be sick.
Ohhhhh, that’s a LOT better, he said with a big grin.
Minnie was right nice to him and gave him her $2 donation and chatted with him a bit more before she said see ya and closed the door behind him.
I started up the stairs to check out the scene of the crime. I was about three steps from the top when it hit me and I realized I was gonna need one of them heavy duty masks Cyril uses when he’s drywallin’ if I was gonna be able to breathe up there.
I ran in and shoved the window up and then ran out again and shut the door behind me. I took a look at the toilet out of the corner of my eye as I ran by, and I swear to cripes, the state he left it in, it looked like somethin’ you’d see on CSI. I don’t know how that skinny little old fella caused that much damage.
I got back downstairs and in the middle of all my rantin’ and ravin’ about how even cavemen know better than to mark their territory in somebody else’s cave, Minnie told me not to forget to close the bathroom window again before I came to bed.
Needless to say, I forgot. Which is how the pipes in the wall froze and burst.
As soon as I fix all the water damage, I’m gettin’ a bristol board and a marker and makin’ a big sign to put right above the toilet – standin’ room only.