Tag Archives: Lac La Biche

Outhouse Terrors

I talked about squat toilets and scary, dark toilets last week. They’re their own form of horror but none of them were that rustic, wooden box called the outhouse.

Many years ago when I was but a wee tyke, we visited some relatives out in Lac la Biche, Alberta. (I think it means deer lake in English.) They had a farm replete with chickens, cows, cats, hat and raspberry canes. And of course, like many farmsteads, there was running water in the house but it was built in an era before plumbing, and the toilets were outside.

I suppose as biffies go, these were probably higher class. There was a wooden boardwalk from the house to the outhouse. And it was a two-seater with toilet seats. My relatives were obviously comfortable sitting side by side and doing their business.

And so were my sister and me. During the visit we had to go out to the outhouse, at night. We took the flashlight and while sitting in the outhouse we were shining the lights about and making shadow puppets. I’m not sure how old we were. I’m thinking I was six and my sister twelve.

Anyways, after we were done peeing and playing, we went to leave…and couldn’t. The door was latched tight. On the outside was a simple wood toggle to keep the door shut when no one was in it. It had fallen down while we were inside and we started pounding and yelling. My sister, ever one to freak out easily, was screaming and crying, and of course I followed along. Here we were stuck in the dark, in a dreaded outhouse (luckily the fumes weren’t so bad) and with visions of perishing there.

Obviously that wouldn’t have happened. Someone would have missed us sooner or later and we weren’t going to die in there. But we were in the moment and hysterical. Of course the adults were inside yukking it up, talking and laughing and heard nothing until there was a lull in the conversation. They eventually came out (I’d say it was twenty minutes but it was more likely ten) and let us fly free, tear-streaked an terrified.

They laughed long and hard, and it’s laughable in retrospect but I wouldn’t go in an outhouse until I was about twenty-two. Scarred from that early memory, I refused any time we went to Banff or any outing, to use an outhouse and insisted on restaurants and gas stations. I was resolute. But as an adult, I met friends who had a cabin in Clinton, BC and of course, it was rustic. It took some effort but I finally got over my fear of outhouses, although they don’t rate highly on bathroom experiences as they are almost always smelly to downright gagarific, and often dangerous to tender skin.

In a pinch I can use whatever is available, including the great outdoors. I should also note that although I had been in Wazuubee of late I hadn’t gone to the bathroom there. I was there again the other night and they have in fact put brighter track lighting into their bathroom (although the whole place really needs an overhaul–it’s pretty shabby) so yay, less horrors there.


Filed under Culture, environment, family, humor, life, memories, people, security

Rebellion Baby

Or is that rebellion, baby! Actually, no, it’s rebellion baby. That’s what I was. My brother was recently in town and commented on a little tactic I had at the age of two. I don’t remember it but he still laughs about it.

It seems when my mother would put me to bed I would rebel with a fit where I’d tear off my pajamas, toss them in the hallway and then lay down upon them…and fall asleep. Maybe that’s why I don’t where pajamas today. But I do remember being slightly older, around four or five years of age, and I would slowly, accidentally, slide out of bed on the covers, because that way I wasn’t going to bed, darn it! No way! It didn’t seem to matter to my child’s mind that I would fall asleep on the sheets on the floor and inevitably wake up in the morning in my bed.

What a rebel I was. I hated going to bed. I hated missing out on things. One evening, some adult cousins from Lac La Biche, Doreen and Ted, showed up at the house. It was past my bedtime and I was in bed but not asleep. I heard them come in and wanted to see them but there was no way I could just trounce upstairs without getting in deep doodoo.

I was, on one level, very honest. I didn’t tend to lie. I couldn’t fake being sick, like my brother believes he did and faked himself into an appendectomy at a young age. But I had a devious plan. I could swallow air and at other times, burp on will. This time I just kept swallowing the air and not burping it out until my tummy hurt. Aha! Now I could go upstairs and say, “My tummy hurts.”

My mother must have been wise to my ways. She said something about it being suspect and gave me a glass of warm water, which succeeded in freeing my trapped burps. But I got what I wanted. I got to see Doreen and Ted before being sent back to bed.

I was a classic bookworm, often staying up late at night, reading, with the flashlight under the sheets. I’m still a late night person, often going to bed at 2:00, which means I usually don’t get enough sleep during the week. And I still sleep in till 10:00 am if I can.

As to rebellion, well, I wanted to learn to play drums as a kid, not because I had any affinity but because it’s what girls didn’t do. Instead, when my mother denied me,  I hit the art/drawing route, much better suited to my temperament. And my mother learned that if she wanted me to do something she got a lot farther if she asked instead of telling me what to do.

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