Monday, March 23, 2009

Military Encampment

Somewhere along the line, that dear sweet Uncle Lloyd went into the military and turned into a machine. Even his sweet wife Aunt Donna never had an expression on her face all the years I remember her. I'm sure they laughed at times. I just cannot recall any.

I do not remember them well, hardly at all really, but we stayed at their home for an extended period one summer when my dad needed an emergency appendectomy while we were away from home.

We were vacationing in the area, when dad started getting sick. Not unusual. He had migraine headaches a lot. But he kept getting sicker by the minute, so mom headed us for Salt Lake City. We had a little trailer called a 'Dewdrop' I think. All the camping gear got stuffed in there, and it was abandoned, as we raced down the canyon road into Salt Lake.

I don't remember a lot about what happened next, but it was nightmarish, just getting dad cared for. Turns out he had acute appendicitis, but my dad never gets sick, and never admits feeling ill, so I can imagine how awful he must have felt to go to the hospital. They were not very nice to him. I remember that much, at least.

After that, I remember staying at Lloyd and Donna's house for a long time. My dad was very sick, and I got sick too, may by some kind of M√ľnchhausen transferral. Anyway, one memorable moment I recall was vomiting all over the fine parlor carpet, and the horrified looks on every face present, as if I had farted loudly in the echoing silence of the Sistine Chapel, or forever desecrated the sanctity or dear Aunt Donna'a sacred virtue. I nearly passed out from embarrassment. Instead, I just passed gas.

Everyone immediately offered their favorite remedy for an unsettled stomach, but I was judged too young for bourbon and branch water, too peaked looking for Alka-Seltzer and maybe and enema would help, but perhaps just some hot sweet tea with honey would be just the thing. Aunt Donna took me right into her kitchen and put the teakettle on. I wanted to go play with the other kids, but they were keeping their distance after the projectile barfing incident, perhaps mindful of the gas.

Now I was balancing on the horns of a terrible dilemma.

How do I keep ending up there?

I've heard all my life about not drinking tea. On the other hand, here's Aunt Donna urging me that it's okay, because I'm sick, and she has done it all her life. My mom joined in offering reassurances. Just drink it, it wont hurt you, just once. We're guests, and we want to do as they do while in their home. Besides, you know Grandma Cobabe always has coffee. It's okay.

So I drank the sweet tea with honey, and it was good. I wanted another glassful, but Aunt Donna said one was enough, and I should go to bed for a while, because I had been sick.

At that point, I went into the main bathroom to ease my bladder, and it was and it was an experience I will never forget. I should have used the little guest bathroom.

Uncle Lloyds house was orderly and neat as a pin. The main bath was no exception. Excuse the picture please, I just posted it to illustrate that there were actually FOUR toilets side-by-side and no locking door. If you needed the toilet, there was no such idea as privacy. Just sit and go. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain, er, on the next warm seat.

Well, I marched right in and was so bemused by the novel arrangement that I forgot what I was doing. A sense of urgency suddenly reminded me I was about to pee in my pants, and I was still humiliated about the projectile vomiting / tea incidents. Not wanting to wet myself, I started that funny two-step dance that little boys have when they don't want to pee their pants, and start fumbling with the fly, then gave up and just dropped shorts and trousers all on the floor in one last desperate effort to salvage my dry underpants. I made it to the toilet with relief as I started going, but to my horror, Uncle Lloyd came in, and distracted my concentration. I must admit, my aim has never been that accurate, and I was peeing all over the seat and the floor. Lloyd was furious. He took one more look at me, reached out, and lifted up the toiled seat. "Can't you lift the seat when you go?," he growled gruffly, and I was just quaking with fear. I lost control and peed all over his hand and forearm. He was drenched with my little boy urine.

He gave me a disgusted look, I returned a wry smile as my stream dribbled away onto the floor. I said nothing at all as I slinked away with my underpants to get dressed, leaving Lloyd to clean the toilet, the floor, and himself

I went away to hide under the blankets. He went off to report to Aunt Donna how their degenerate reprobate California relatives are raising delinquent retard children who can't even control their bodily functions.

Life has turned full circle, and now I am back to wearing diapers again. It is a compromise with a body I can no longer trust, after so many years.

Uncle Lloyd and Aunt Donna might finally be laughing. Or maybe it is just flatulence from that pesky dilemma, still passing gas after all these years.


Anonymous said...

The only things I remember of Donna and Lloyd are that we picked snowballs from their snowball tree in the back yard and took them to the nearby cemetary (or cemutary as my oldest daughter says). They also had a St. Bernard. Or was that someone else?

Why on earth did they have 4 toilets? That's just plain weird. They weren't normal people.

Jim Cobabe said...


Could it be that I misremember? I don't trust my own recollection of events more than fifty years ago. I think I'll check with others and see if they remember or can think of a reason why Lloyd would have a military barracks style bathroom in his house.

There were other things.

I remember him mowing the lawn and shingling the roof on summer days with his shirt off and his temple garments rolled down. I thought there was nothing wrong about that, but had never seen dad do anything like it.

D. said...

My son, who actually was in the military, told of a humorous incident whilst using the barracks "facilities". A number of recruits were there, a mixture of different races. One black guy was sick with diarrhea and it was very smelly. One other black guy finally got upset and yells, "C'mon, bro, how 'bout a courtesy flush, man?"

Something to remember the next time you are in one of these facilities!

Anonymous said...

Like I said, I just remember their oddity. They made me nervous.

Jim Cobabe said...


You make my points for me precicely, but to them, WE were the odd ones,

Jim Cobabe said...


Point duly noted. Well said.

Thanks for your kind comment, it well illustrates one of the common hazards of communal elimination.