Tuesdays with Moron: Chatological Humor Update

Jan 10, 2012

Every Tuesday, Gene publishes weekly updates to his chats.

Gene's latest chat.

On one Tuesday each month, Gene is online to take your questions and abuse. He will chat about anything. Although this chat is sometimes updated between live shows, it is not and never will be a "blog," even though many persons keep making that mistake. One reason for the confusion is the Underpants Paradox: Blogs, like underpants, contain "threads," whereas this chat contains no "threads" but, like underpants, does sometimes get funky and inexcusable.

Important, secret note to readers: The management of The Washington Post apparently does not know this chat exists, or it would have been shut down long ago. Please do not tell them. Thank you.

Weingarten is also the author of "The Hypochondriac's Guide to Life. And Death," co-author of "I'm with Stupid," with feminist scholar Gina Barreca and "Old Dogs: Are the Best Dogs," with photographer Michael S. Williamson.

New to Chatological Humor? Read the FAQ.

Ed's Note: If composing your questions in Microsoft Word please turn off the Smart Quotes functionality or use WordPad. I haven't the time to edit them.

Greetings, update readers.

The moderator of Chatological Humor wishes to remind you all that this forum is an arm of The Washington Post, one of the nation's finest and most dignified news sources, winners of countless Pulitzer Prizes, de-throner of corrupt presidents, and whatnot.   Nonetheless, as it happens, today's update is focused pretty intensely on pooping -- or, more correctly, as befitting the august nature of this newspaper -- the excretory function known as defecation.

If any apology is necessary, we hereby proffer it.   But several issues were raised in the last chat, issues we promised to address herein, and we -- using the first-person plural for maximum sophistication -- are people of our word.

We begin by re-publishing this question, one of the finest ever received in Chatological Humor, from a lady who will heretoafter be referred to as Poopfinger:

I am a young woman and an inveterate oversharer. I have no secrets, mainly because I tell them to everyone, and because I have woefully few to tell - I'm a virgin, have never stolen anything other than the odd downloaded mp3 back in my college years, and limit my wild side to maybe one drink a month, so in my case my sobbing-to-a-friend-at-midnight confessions are "I was mean to someone in a moment of anger, how can I seek their forgiveness?" However, I do have one karmatic retribution for my anal-retentiveness, about which I do suffer in silence, enough so that it may be my one true secret: For most of my life, I have had trouble pooping. Not constipation, per se, because I poop about two-to-three times a day, but for whatever reason, I almost always have to use a finger to scoop out half the contents, because it gets stuck up there. My mother knows but just tells me to stop sticking my finger up my butt, and my doctor knows but just tells me to try probiotics. But it's not a consistency issue - hard or soft, it's almost more like a problem with the mechanics down below. I have a poop shelf. I go about my life cringing as acquaintances and friends shake a hand that's just spent five minutes under soap and water to try to scrape out all the gunk from under the nails. Gene, as a Master Evacuator, you gotta help me. What's going on? What can I do? If I found a magic lamp, my wish wouldn't be for true love or wealth or fame, but for the lifelong ability to sit down on a toilet and know that EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OKAY.

So, I advised Poopfinger to seek the advice of Dr. Satish Rao, the fecal motility expert with whom I had collaborated for the chat.   She begged me to do it for her, which I did.   I have been back in touch with Dr. Rao, and I have an answer for her, and it is conclusive.   The good news, sweet lady, is that what you have has a name, is not serious, and is completely curable.  The bad news is complicated, and it follows here:

According to Dr. Rao, you either never learned -- or have forgotten how -- to poop.   The body does that sometimes, for all sorts of reasons.   The condition is called Dyssynergic Defecation, a subject upon which Dr. Rao is a major-league expert.

Dr. Rao explains in an email:  "The Oversharer has not learnt the art of pooping from childhood or she has acquired a new behavior wherein when she  attempts to poop, instead of relaxing her anal muscles she paradoxically squeezes  them, thereby retaining stool.  So she has learnt the compensatory mechanism of digging out her stools to evacuate."  

(Personal note: I love "learnt.")

This is a type of constipation, believe it or not.  Constipation can mean either infrequent pooping or, as in your case, difficulty in doing it.   Your condition accounts for about a third of all people diagnosed as "constipated." 

Here's where it gets a little rough, sweetie:  To cure you, Dr. Rao (or another specialist in his field) needs to stick a probe up your butt.   It will be connected to a bunch of computers, with a visual display of the muscles in your rectum.   You will poop, and the computers will detail -- so you can see, along with a specialist or two who are really, really trying not to grin -- how your muscles are misfiring.   Your butt is like an engine where the timing belt is out of whack.   The doctors will then instruct you in the proper muscle sequencing, which you will learn to do via biofeedback.  This works.

When I told my friend Caitlin about this procedure, she said that rather than underdo this, she would sooner just quietly expire.  But you, young lady, I believe are made of sterner stuff.   You are an "Oversharer," as you say, and I am convinced that you will endure this (possibly even slightly enjoying the attention) and at last be cured, thanks to the good offices of the Great and Dignified Washington Post.  You are most welcome.

(Note: Dr. Rao offered to treat you at his clinic, which is in Georgia, but says that other specialists in this can be found.   Dr. Rao is very findable on the web.)

A second chatter noted that he has trouble ever wiping himself clean.    I promised to bring this foul matter to Dr. Rao, who said that this person has "Fecal Seepage," which is also a matter of bad muscle habit, and which also can be cured by biofeedback. 

We move on, but not very far, I'm afraid.   The chat last week provoked some really entertaining responses, including one of the finest emails I have ever received, this from a man who hadn't even read the chat, but was writing coincidentally on the same topic. 

This email created a bit of a dilemma for me, because it is arguably revolting, revolting enough, arguably, to knock a vulture off a garbage scow.   In judging the print-worthiness of such a thing, an editor must weigh the potential offensiveness against the entertainment value.   In this case, the entertainment value was such that I almost shorted out my laptop from laughter-drool.  It is also literarily beautiful.   So I am going with it.   The subject line was:  "Fat guys are angry poopers."  

Justin Stone writes:

I am developing a psychosis about using my work restroom for extra-urinal affairs; and it is due to the angry pooping of my fat co-workers.
I'm not formulating a theory, or even a hypothesis; I'm sure my observations do not meet the rigors proper science demands.  Still, the facts remain -- they are fat, and they attack the stalls like the berserking Norsemen of legend.  They stomp in, throw the stall doors open with a crash; slam the seat, moan and sigh and belch and make angry fat-guy noises; and then (O Gods!), THEN, the attack begins in earnest, with the thunder of cannons and splashes of musketfire, the screams of the fallen and the battle cries of the victors.  Then, the flushing -- one extra flush might be called a courtesy, but dozens in a sitting are nothing short of assault.  Finally, mercifully, the process unwinds; and with one last rumble, the nightmare is over.
I am normally not a shrinking violet; but in my narrow stall, pants down, skinny pale buttcheeks kissing cold porcelain, I cop to a degree of vulnerability.  I am not prepared to stand up and in a Stentorian voice accost my accoster (I sometimes manage to give the tissue roll what some might describe as an inappropriately loud spin; or, in my bravest moments, summoning up the will of my proud Highlander forbears, a gentle cough).  But I mostly just sit in shamed silence, wondering what kind of rhinoceros is destroying the stall next to me.
(I do not work in a raucous raucous blue-collar setting. We are mostly lawyers.)
This is my plight.  Where once the after-lunch defecation was a welcome break in my day, now it is a prospect of horror and degradation.  Any business I transact must be done in my apartment.  The terrorists have won at Number Two.

Gene, EVERYONE says "skwirl."

I agree there is an elision, and if you listen to the pronunciation here, your ear can turn it into one syllable, even though the written definition clearly has it as two.

But really:  If you were writing a poem, would you rhyme "squirrel" with "pearl" or "twirl"?   Would Shakespeare have done so?  

As the final authority on this, I turn to RhymeZone.com, which gives as the rhyme for squrrel not pearl or swirl, but "referral."     Would you pronounce referral as "refurl"?  I think not even you.

Any comments on the passing of Christopher Hitchens? Your thoughts of him as a writer?

As soon as I learned of Hitchens's death, I twote this:

Christopher Hitchens ceases to be --
A remarkable life he led
He isn't in heaven; he isn't in hell,
He is simply, emphatically, dead.

Happy New Year, Gene! Your poo chat has me laughing...my 6yo son REFUSES to go ANYWHERE but at home. He'll hold it all day at school, so as soon as we get home, it's like "Clear Out!" as he makes a run for it. His funniest comment? One day, he didn't quite make it. He said, "Mom, sometimes I run fast, but sometimes my poop runs faster." To me, too funny. Also reminds me of a movie line my nephew (who also refuses to go except at home) told my sister (I'm sure you've heard this before, but I just did not too long ago) "Got to take the Browns to the Super Bowl." Since we're from the Cleveland area originally, we realize that unfortunately, this is likely the only time they'll make it...

Thank you.   I heard a different, appallingly unprintable but funny version of this.

for my secret - its nose picking and eating... which brings wierd feelings when my kids make comments about how gross it is... I just have constant flashbacks to reading Dune and the drinking of recycled pee - after all, isn't it just mucus with some dirt in it?? I also adore black beans for the earthy taste.


You know, in a chat poll a few years ago, it was established that virtually everyone is a secret nosepicker.  This stunned me.  I am a secret nosepicker and was unaware of how many others there were, including a large majority of women.   It was a gigantic relief, much as when you learned, at 12, that you were not the only secret pervert in the world and that everyone did THAT.

But ... eating?   What are you, seven?   

Isn't that a part of the process you could end at will?

I don't care which is funniest. I care what Gene thinks is funniest. And I pray you don't think it's the cow tweet. (That said, Nickleback, McRib, NASA, and 'who I pretend to be are probably the best ones).

Very, very good choices.

Not sure where being sexually molested by an uncle fit in on any of those possible responses. Since I'm sure I'm not the only one with such a secret, I'd be curious to see how others answered.

It's a sexual secret, no?  Not your fault, but sexual nonetheless.

Yeah, sure. I often fantasize that my wife and I have swapped genders and that I'm the woman during sex. Freud may have been wrong about penis-envy, but he probably should have studied the inverse. There seem to be a lot of us out there. People hear about this and assume that we're all closeted homosexuals or a cross-dressers or something, but nothing could be further from the truth. I have zero desire to be feminine in any way out in the real world. From what I've seen on the internet, most of the people with this fetish are also totally straight males. Something else I wouldn't have guessed before the internet gave me a window into humanity's mind. And just to satisfy your curiosity, yes, my wife knows about it and has no problem with it. She sometimes roll-plays with me to be nice, but 99% of the time it's just my own unspoken fantasy.

Wow.   We'll end with this today.   It's fascinating, actually.  I can see that dynamically -- spatially, if you will -- it would be easy to imagine during sex.   And on a very basic level, I understand it.

I consider sex to be a fascinating, complicated two-way  exercise in the exchance of power.   And I can see how switching the gender dynamic would be interesting, and really just an extension of something quite common -- the impulse to be dominated, or to dominate.   

So are there any hetero women out there who imagine themselves as men, in bed?

Thanks for sharing this.

See you all next week in the update.

In This Chat
Gene Weingarten
Gene Weingarten is the humor writer for The Washington Post. His column, Below the Beltway, has appeared weekly in the Post's Sunday magazine since July 2000 and has been distributed nationwide on The Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service. He was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing.
Recent Chats
  • Next: