BOB KORNEGAY: Outdoor 'plumbing' can be plumb dangerous

OUTDOORS: Outdoorsmen have their own problems when 'nature' calls

Bob Kornegay

Bob Kornegay

I have no idea why, but a magazine article I recently read has me thinking about a subject that seldom enters my head. Nowadays, though, I find it important to dwell on almost any topic. At my age, column ideas no longer come as easy as they once did.

In the article, the author focused on bathroom rituals and routines of women. Her text was liberally endowed with tribulations ladies must endure in the course of this natural and necessary human event, including the insensitivity of men who must, also necessarily, await their female companions’ eventual return from the ladies’ water closet.

I’m certain the writer’s facts and opinions have merit, though I must admit I’m quite ignorant about the subject matter. I personally know little about women and restrooms other than noticing they often choose up teams before going and, once there, remain for hours at a time. Exactly what goes on in those mystical and mysterious confines I don’t know, and don’t want to.

I do, however, know a bit about the subject as it pertains to outdoorsmen. We also have our own unique problems when it comes to “going.”

Outdoorsmen never know just what sort of “faclities” they may encounter when the time comes to answer Nature’s call. It goes way beyond the common variables of long lines, sanitary conditions, and whether or not the soap dispenser is full.

For instance, we might have to make a snap decision as to the tensile strength of the sapling tree we are holding onto, leaning against, or standing behind. Sometimes we get it right, sometimes not. We must also answer questions like, “Just how close to the side of the boat can I stand when the wind is blowing 30 mph?” or “Exactly how keen is the vision of those folks gazing out at me from the far shore?” One seldom has this to consider when surrounded by scrubbed tile and Lysol fumes. Likewise, he seldom must wonder if a handful of Mother Nature’s “Charmin” contains ticks or poison ivy leaves.

I once spent all day in a boat with a professional female bass fisherman who had no qualms about asking me to please look the other way while she paused for a potty break. I bashfully made the same request a couple of times to no avail, ending up retaining two large Gatorades and three bottles of water from daylight until dusk. Some things a bashful fellow just can’t do, pain and discomfort notwithstanding.

Once I required the use of an outhouse at a public boat ramp on the Chattahoochee River. It was, shall I say, a “primitive” facility. In contrast, the economy-minded Corps of Engineers officials had stocked the privy with one of those two-foot diameter industrial-sized rolls of toilet tissue. Loose, mind you. No dispenser. When I clumsily dropped it, it escaped through a hole in the wall and rolled across the parking lot like a runaway tractor tire, leaving me holding one two-ply sheet. I brooded about this for weeks until I heard that another angler, making an emergency late-night stop in the same location, fell through the seat boards of the old one-holer and was stuck there until morning. Made me realize an unsecured roll of toilet paper was the least of my worries.

Like the guy in that classic Hank Snow song, I’ve “been” everywhere. The experiences have not always been pleasant or fraught with the relief I was seeking in the first place. The same may be said for practically every member of the male outdoor fraternity.

You know, it occurs to me that maybe we’re the ones who should be spending untold hours in those nice clean restrooms and let the ladies wait on us for a change. Think about it. Compared to our outdoor “plumbing” facilities, they are opulent accommodations indeed.

I just wish the piped-in music was a little more to my liking.

Email outdoors columnist Bob Kornegay here.