Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Oh Here's Something

The problems I faced at age nine were - to my nine year old brain - more significant and daunting than any problems I'd faced so far, any problems I'd face in the future, and certainly any other problems other people were dealing with.


Sixteen years later, I wish I could say that I've gained some self-awareness, but I don't know. I can't.

What I have learned - is that regardless of age, your problems are always going to seem insurmountable. I've also learned that they rarely are.

That said, let's talk about the time I accidentally touched human poop.


I was nine, and like I said before, I had problems. I was a tiny runt of a child. None of the clothes at Limited Too fit me yet. I had a crippling fear of vomiting. Oftentimes waitresses wouldn't put enough cherries in my Shirley Temple. My mom overcooked broccoli 73% of the time. I was pretty sure I'd never meet the Backstreet Boys in person.


I know. It's hard to hear. But this was my life.

ALRIGHT - fine. I had a pretty cushy childhood. Whatever. There was always food on the table. I had parents that invested in my future. I had a car to drive in high school. I went to two Backstreet Boys concerts in middle school.

One childhood treat involved convincing my dad to take me to the nearby pool club, where they had both an indoor and an outdoor pool. This meant that theoretically any day of the year I could submerge myself in tepid stank-water, and I was happier for it.

I was in love with the pool. There was something about the way the chlorine made my scalp itch. I'll never forget it. The notion that you're just sitting in a big pot of stranger soup. Loved it.


Sometimes I'd bring a friend, but mostly I was content to spend hours alone, pushing the limits of my lung capacity. I'd doggy-paddle to where it was eight feet deep, and I'd go all the way under. I wouldn't take a deep breath first, though - I'd let it all out and then go limp. I learned early on that when you fill your lungs with air, you float - and when there's no air in your lungs, you sink.


So, goggles on, I'd sink. I'd sink until my butt hit tile, and I'd just sit there. It was immensely calming. All the daunting problems of my difficult life would linger on the water's surface, and there I was at the bottom, worry-free.


Worry-free, and also depriving my brain of oxygen. Which - I mean - I'm not a doctor, but I think brains need oxygen.

So I'd absorb the serenity of the stillness and silence until I couldn't take it anymore, and, head spinning, I'd shoot back up to the top.

My head would throb pleasantly, then I'd go back down. I'd repeat this sequence until my dad would appear at the surface after my 116th dive, asking if I'm kidding him with this right now.


I mostly stuck to eight feet. I was comfortable there. I was able to go decently deep while still having enough oxygen to appreciate the moment.

But there came a day when I said to myself, Kristin? You're nine now. Time to nut up and see what that drain is all about.

The drain was a grate at the bottom of the deep end. It was a mystery. I wanted to stare into its depths and find truth. I wanted Oprah's voice to come out of it and tell me how special I was. The problem was, the deep end was twelve feet deep. Unfathomable. Twelve feet was three of me. I'd avoided it for so long for lack of bravery but goddammit if I wasn't ready at the ripe old age of nine.

I got out of the pool and walked determinately to the far end. I avoided those gross puddles that accumulate around pools - you know, the ones that somehow end up filled with disintegrated toilet paper and rouge hair. The stuff of nightmares.


After mustering up all the courage I could locate, I lowered myself into the deep end and started to sink. I was in it for the long haul. I was a submarine captain, descending further and further into the unknown - in the name of science, and in the name of the United States of America. I missed my wife and kids, but I had a job to do.

Was that sexist? Assuming that only menfolk can command submarines? Well, I'm a lesbian in this scenario. So it's on you.


When I finally got to the bottom, I was too panicky to enjoy the zen moment, let alone the mystery of the grate. What I did notice, however, was something small and round near my foot. It sat there, unmoving. My immediate thought was that it was a dime.

You people are smart. You didn't forget that I Tarantino'd this story. From the beginning, you've known that I would inevitably be touching human poop at tale's end.

So, yes. What I thought was a dime ended up being a tiny, comically round nugget of poop. It was loose poop, and I had just touched it. I didn't just touch it, though. I grabbed it. It broke into a million poop particles, and I died. I died about it, right there.


I'd never pushed my lungs this far and when I finally made it to the surface I wanted everyone to know what I'd been through. Before I'd even taken a much-needed breath, I Paul-Revere'd the shit out of that place.


The lifeguard rolled his eyes and got the pool scooper.

And I, fanning myself while grasping the pool's ledge, lamented the loss of my life's one respite. The calming depths were forever tainted. Tainted by poop.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I think I had those same rainbow-pack butterfly hair clips at about age nine. YAY. Now that I think about it, I, too, became disenchanted with public pools after finding poop for the first time. I just wasn't ballsy enough to touch it. Hats off to you, madam.

  3. "One if by land, poop if by poop!" I think I found something new to say to liven up boring cost meetings!

  4. that thing you do -or did, emptying your lungs so you can easily sink to bottom and enjoy the peace, that's exactly what I did. And I still do it.
    by the way. thanks for the nightmares.

  5. oh my gosh you're amazing. thank you.

  6. I love the format of your comics. Mega-rocks. Keep writing. x

  7. It's hard to convey this across the internets, in a comment like this, but I feel a little bit in love with you. You are a person I've never met and only seen a couple of pictures of, but I really care for you. Blergh but I love the internet!

    Thank you, yet again, for one of the best places to read on the webs. You are bookmarked and cherished!

  8. 1. Butterfly clips. 2. If you don't have a book deal in the next 24 months, I will by you lunch. Or send you a gift card to Subway.

  9. I loved the pool too. Although we had to pass a 'swim test' if we wanted to go in the deep end. My friends passed. I never even took the thing. I just swam into the deep end anyway. Like a rebel.

    A swimming pool rebel.

    P.S There was no poop there.

  10. I originally read that last bit as "rolled his eyes and got the poop scoop" Which was gross, because I'm sure poop happens, but not on a frequency that you have one scoop devoted just to poop. And then I re-read and felt marginally better. But not really. Because poop.

  11. 1) Michelle Bachman and 2) Where can I find a 2013 Backstreet Boys Millenium calendar? Yerr a good egg Krossi. Thank you. Made my day.

  12. This was not safe to read at university when your friend things you are working and there are complete strangers looking at you like you are having a panic attack, but its just you laughing. Thank you for a really good, funny misadventure of your young life :)

  13. There's some philosophical statement here about how shit ruins everything, but I'm not quite getting there.

  14. We lived on the bay growing up and I will never first the time my best friend and I, both 9 coincidentally, were swimming in said bay. We were hovering in the water, probably talking about how awesome The Macarena was, when suddenly, a hot log of poop floated right in between us. If we moved, the currents we created would have brought the floater right into us. We had to keep perfectly still until it was fr enough away that we could make it back to shore.

  15. So funny...and gross. I liked it.

  16. You buy stamps at the post office. I hope that helps make your adult life a tiny bit easier. Also, like Kp, I thought it said the lifeguard got the poop scooper. Unlike her, I didn't find anything wrong with that statement.

  17. "I learned early on that when you fill your lungs with air, you float - and when there's no air in your lungs, you sink."

    You just solved one of my life's many mysteries. I am not even kidding.

    I used to think I was smart...

  18. I also meant to say that I love the glass of wine and pie in that drawing.

  19. I love your stories! Really, they always make laugh so hard

  20. I just read...all of you posts just now. It was fun, but now I don't know what to do. (By the way--they are awesome)

  21. On the one hand, I don't want you to have kids because I think cleaning them would kill you and they would be extremely neurotic...on the other, you're awesome, please spread your DNA

  22. Ohmygod. What is it with poop and public pools? I once scooped up, what I thought was a leaf, floating in the pool. As the water spilled between my fingers and the heft of the "leaf" grew heavier and heavier, it slowly dawned on me what I was holding. And I slung that butt biscuit like it was a hand grenade with a pulled pin. And then I washed my hands for a week straight.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

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