I wish this story was not being written. I wish the slate of my memory could be wiped clean. I curse the Muse who invades my dreams, finds me in my idle hours and dumps thoughts I can barely recall would just go away. Just go away and leave me to sit in peace. But, no. I am driven to this dreaded keyboard and another call of nature takes my fingers and makes me tell this tale.
Turn away if you must, Dear Reader, for my story will foul your minds with images that are not meant for your gentle and innocent eyes.
Like many of my tales, this one again takes place on the Juneau Icefield in Southeastern Alaska. It is an awesome place and has been the scene of, shall I say, bizarre happenings.
It was in the distant and fair times of the 1960’s. I was working for a glacial research Foundation whose main work was to keep track of the melting of the glaciers and the reconstruction of past climates through the study of ice cores. Scattered over the vast Icefield were a number of research stations. These were simple structures meant to function as base camps for the scientists and the assistants. There were bunks, eating areas, laboratories and tool shacks.
There were also outhouses to be used when the need arose and privacy was an issue.
The Director of the summer season was an experienced mountain climber with an expertise in organizing and running, not only the scientific end, but also the day to day activities. Now, Dear Reader, it is no secret that morale must be maintained at all times. Any ships captain or unit commander of a military operation will tell you that boredom is the Enemy. The principle here was to keep everyone busy so they had little time to count the days to when the season was over and they could enjoy the fruits of Juneau (and it had many).
There was much work to do and time was of the essence. One time waster was the waiting line for the use of the outhouses. This began to play on the mind of the Director, and being a creative person, came up with two solutions that would get to the bottom of this problem.
Here is how it played out: He would identify those individuals who were savvy at carpentry. Then he would order the supplies to be flown in. And, in the end, he would build additional privies. But on this particular summer, the Director decided to take the matter and go into a direction that has rarely been repeated. Indeed, I know of no other solution, like the one he chose, in existence anywhere.
I know of what I speak, because I, myself, helped construct the buildings that sprang from his very “Creative Moment”. This was no longer a mountain climber or researcher planning these designs. No, he became an I.M Pei, a Dali, a Picasso of privies!
I will leave out the boring details of the moving of the rocks, the digging of the holes (not an easy thing on a rocky mountain surface) and get straight to the end of the story. I need to do so. It is now 12:10 AM EDT in New York State. I need to go to bed now and contemplate the medical procedure I am having later today. If I was one of those sleazy, hack writers I would go for the obvious irony here, that I was going to have a colonoscopy in ten hours. But, I am not a 7th Avenue whore willing to bend over and change the storyline to get a cheap laugh. In reality, I am going to have a tooth extraction.
So, the results of this curious few days building an outbuilding?
One of the new structures was set to face an icefall. A truly awesome sight, best compared to a frozen waterfall. So what did we do to maximize the pleasure of the…the (lest not mince words) bowel movement?
We put in a picture window. It was a 6′ x 5′ sheet of plexiglass that had a hinged door on the outside lest someone wandered by to get a closer look at the ice dropping. Well, we thought the idea was “cracking good”…so we did the only obvious thing. We added an extra seat, or hole as it were. In this way, two close friends, or a very loving couple could do their duty using a buddy system. Seemed like a good idea. After all, the plane had brought in several crates of toilet paper, so there needn’t be any sharing in that way. I’ve often wondered since then if there were any proposals for marriage, of any kind. Hey, nobody said it was for males or females only.
With that project completed, we moved onto another camp. Space for a privy was an issue here as the exposed rock surface was limited. Remember, you can’t build these on snow. That would present it’s own set of problems.
The solution to this was simple. We didn’t need a genius to work this one out. It had to be a two-story privy.
Now, sitting side by side can have it’s advantages. Two occupants could discuss the beauty of the icefall. But a two-story structure was something else. While one person would, I assume sit in the lower level, there was a six inch diameter PVC pipe that passed within seven inches of the sitting person. Whatever movements were taking place upstairs could be plainly heard trickling or bumping against the PVC. Under these circumstances, it was hard to concentrate on a year old copy of Sports Illustrated, even if it was the Swimsuit Issue.
Well, that’s the story of the two loos. I guess it’s now up to you to decide which seat you would have chosen. You need to do this. After all, you never know if you will ever be faced with this in an emergency situation.
As I recall, for some reason the group that year became much more closely knit that any team before. We all knew each other a little better when late August came around.
All done at the Two-Story Loo Back of the Picture Window Loo