My girlfriend and I once threw a housewarming party, since we’d just moved into a new apartment together and needed to celebrate the fact that we’d grow sick of each other in two months. At one point, we separated ourselves from the group, and went to the spare bedroom that we designated as “My Office,” but should’ve been called “Everything that we didn’t want to unpack, and a desk.” As we did that thing that couples do at parties where they affirm that they’re both happy to be there, our Australian Cattle Dog walked into the room and stood between us. And, with the demeanor of “No worries, guys. I know the protocol,” he began to poop right there.
It wasn’t a problem of cleanliness. If you own any kind of animal, and are baffled whenever that animal takes a dump inside your house, you need to rethink everything that you know about animals. We are humans, and pooping where we’re not supposed to will get us kicked out of Steak ‘n Shake. I understand that I will be picking up dog poop for as long as I decide to keep owning dogs. Hopefully, I can teach them to maybe consider trying it in a place without carpets, but until I build a soulless robot dog that doesn’t have to poop ever, I’m just going to have to clean up after my little buddies sometimes.
The problem was the confidence. If you didn’t know, my dog’s name is Elmer, and I can’t quite explain it, but it looked like he was very sure about what he was doing. Usually, when a dog does his business in the house, it’s a random crime. He’ll just be walking around, thinking about smells, and go in the living room. There is no malicious intent.
But when Elmer walked into that room, he gazed up at me as if he knew more about bathrooms than I ever would. As if he understood some underlying mystery about where you could and couldn’t poop that I’d never be able to grasp. Something that he could never communicate, which made it all the more painful. Elmer would never be able to tell me” Look, man. You just gotta poop. It’s that simple.” If he could do that, I would’ve handled what came next much more calmly. I probably would’ve looked around the Everything That We Didn’t Want To Unpack, And A Desk and admitted that, you know what? This really is a great room for pooping. But instead, I saw him and said “GYAHHH DOOOOOOOGGGG.”
My girlfriend, able to handle her syllables, said “Come on, Elmer!” as she called him over to the door to leash him and walk him out. And so it began. The legend of The Poop Room would only grow the longer we lived in that apartment. Often, I’d remember that I closed the door, hoping that Elmer would get the hint, and I’d open it to find poop in there. Was I being driven insane by this? Had I never locked the door in the first place, or had Elmer learned how to open doors with the sole intention of shitting in what was behind them? This lasted the first month that we lived there and then, as if there was a “You don’t poop where the bookshelf is” rule that starts on March 1st and lasts through the end of the year, Elmer stopped. It wasn’t in to poop in the office anymore. Pooping outside is all the rage, Dad, Didn’t you hear?
When we moved to a new apartment and I got a new office, he refrained from revealing its actual purpose there too. He just wasn’t interested in it. He’d let us know when he needed to go outside, and if we took too long pressing the space bar to pause our binge of Parks & Recreation, he didn’t switch to Plan B.
Now, you can tell me all you want about how it was because of him feeling nervous in a new place or with new people, but I won’t listen. I want to keep the magic of The Poop Room alive. Santa Claus was ruined for me when I was ten, and I discovered the truth behind the Easter Bunny when he ripped his own paws off in the mall to reveal that his skeleton looked remarkably similar to sweaty human hands. The Poop Room conundrum is the closest that I’ll ever come to caring about aliens or ghosts, and I need that in my life. I need to be Linus van Pelt, staying for the Great Pumpkin. I need to be the guy that’s waiting for Godot (I haven’t read that play in years, but I assume that it makes for a good Poop Room metaphor. All good theatre does.) I need the legend of The Poop Room. Why?
Well, that’s my own Poop Room.