Poo and the Human Petri Dish
Humans have too many limbs. We are a cluster fuck of physical protrusions and emotional appendages. It is a known fact homo-sapiens secrete from every orifice and are generally gross. We gobble up all the pure things the earth offers us such as oxygen and animals and water, and expend these generous donations as piss and shit and mucus.
No wonder we can’t live together without being disgusted at each other. The variables that arise when people of different ages, backgrounds, eating and hygiene habits live and sleep in a confined space gives rise to a fertile breeding ground for both comedy and tragedy. No matter how true the original intention of each member is to be good to one another, every share house inevitably ends up a Petri dish of human mess.
A certain visceral breed of storytelling has arisen out of the repugnant social experiment that is modern share house living. The setting is suburban and the characters are grotesque exaggerations of a generation raised on Cheez TV. Most stories stay within the friendship groups they were conceived in, but some rise above and take on a whole new mythological status.
In the vein of all good folklore, the series of events I am about to recount happened to a friend of a friend of mine. He said it is a true story and I believe him. It is a good story to tell at the kind of parties where there aren’t any salt and vinegar chippies left in the bowl and everyone goes quiet and you can sense someone is about to whip out their iPhone and start using that app that moves people’s heads onto the neck of the person next to them. Instead everybody chimes in at the end of the story with their own awful housemate tale. The night is saved and you get to feel like the sultan of social communiqué.
It takes place in a share house in Brisbane. The tenants are university students, a few boys and one girl. A culture of pranking arises in the house coupled with a healthy dose of competitiveness. The lines and boundaries of personal space and good taste become blurred and somehow faeces becomes involved. This is where my friend telling the story was hazy, and I can’t confirm for certain if the poo in question was animal or human. I do know the same piece of poo was used and reused as a vital object, the punch line, if you will, multiple times in multiple pranks. Whatever kind of poo it was, it was versatile and resilient.
Things progressed in the house to the point where they developed a game called ‘Hide the Poo’, which, owing to the literal nature of the title, doesn’t need a whole lot of explaining. It basically involved hiding the same irrepressible piece of poo amongst another member of the household’s possessions until they naturally came upon it. Then the person who discovered the object inherited the responsibility of continuing the legacy and concealing the said object (poo) in amongst another house member’s things.
Naturally things escalated, and people got creative. Until the game reached a tipping point and someone thought of both the best and worst place ever to hide what must have been the world’s most indestructible piece of poo. What they did was take the only female member of the household’s butter out of the fridge, left it on the bench until it grew malleable, removed the whole block from the plastic container, turned it over, dug a small, cosy nest in the bottom, gently nestled the poo inside the nest, turned the butter over, placed it into it’s container, put it back in the fridge, and waited for it to go hard again.
Except of course this was a long waiting game. It can take a while to get through a full container of butter. So long that when the girl eventually did break through the yellow to strike a brown vein at the bottom she had been spreading the butter on her toast and sandwiches for weeks.
I don’t know the particulars of what happened next, but I imagine the event marked the end of an era.
Which leads me to the question, why do humans do these things? Why do we eat pubic hair sandwiches and snort ant poison (both things I have personally witnessed) for fun and because someone dared us to? Why do we put shit in each other’s food? I’m not sure but I think it might have something to do with Darwinism. Survival of the fittest and all that. Or maybe just because it is funny. Unless, of course, you’re the one who has been eating poo.
If I may be so bold as to lapse into war metaphors for a moment, in the context of communal living we do it because a share house is a battlefield, goddamit. It only makes sense to use body fluids as ammunition.
I even have my own vanilla version of using human waste as a weapon in the share house combat zone. When I was fresh from the womb of high school I lived in a house with two boys and one other girl. Having only recently shed the placenta that stubbornly clings to the skin of a teenager, the other girl and I decided to team up against the boys by reminding them we were their chromosomal, menstruating counterparts. In order to make our point we would dip the ends of tampons in a tomato sauce bottle (or a mixture of both the tomato sauce bottle and the barbeque sauce bottle if we were aiming for a more authentic hue), and leave the results in mildly inconspicuous places. Noting the boys turned a tactful blind eye to the tampons smeared in condiments left by the side of the toilet, the soap holder, and in the cupboard underneath the sink, we upped our game. It took a feminine hygiene product slyly wedged underneath a male roommate’s pillow for the whole jig to come undone.
If one was being morbid they could argue it is not just share house living that is a repugnant social experiment, but human existence in general. A share house simply magnifies the microcosmic clusters of human debris that inhabit the earth in an environment that accelerates their grosser human tendencies. It makes animals out of people that are already animals.
But even animals don’t hide mouldy shit in their friend’s food.
Polaroids by Tod Ohree