Sunday, February 26, 2006

Poo, Piss and Pine-Solâ„¢ - Part I

Until the time they settled in communities in the 1950's, 60's and 70's, Inuit used to repair behind their tents or igloos to take a dump or slash. Nowadays, the modern houses up here have, to the most part, conventional flush toilets. But there was an intervening era between the nomadic life and present times called the Age of the Honeybucket.

The first houses built during the 1960's through 80's did not have a means of storing waste water, and permafrost prevents the construction of sewage lines. So every house and public building had at least one honeybucket. Plastic garbage bags (usually 2) were placed in a galvanized 3 gallon bucket, which in turn was put in a commode in the bathroom. About a cup of Pine-Sol or other heavily-scented cleaning liquid was poured in to kill the odor.

When the bags became full, they were tied off and the bucket was carried out to the edge of the road where the bags "poured" onto the ground to await pick-up, which was much easier in the winter since the contents would largely freeze making a manual lift from the ground to a truck much less risky. No one wanted that job during the summer.

While all this sounds quite gross, I can report that due to the amazing power of Pinesol the bathrooms smelt like a spruce forest in the Rockies, especially if you topped the bucket up with some more Pine-Sol every now and then.

Although not having much in the way of olfactory offence, honeybuckets were visually disgusting - a mess of brown frothing liquid mixed with asswipe and used sanitary napkins.

Most women only noticed this if they had to tie the bag off, but men (most of whom have to piss standing up and maintain a good aim) had to stare at this ungodly mess for the duration. I used a honeybucket for my first seven years up north, and never figured out how to divert my attention from what I was doing. Now with a flush toilet most men amuse themselves by trying to pee off little flecks of shit from the bowl with the force of their stream, or trying to cover the complete surface of the water with piss bubbles, but with the honeybucket any consciencious male had to stare at the contents unblinkedly while emptying their bladder.

The honeybucket, therefore, was a rite of passage for those first coming to the north. Sadly, today, no one uses them any more.

The second installment of this series involves methods of determining who would be the lucky person to tie the bag, as well as some horribly disgusting stories of honeybucket mayhem.

Stay tuned.

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