Biff America column: Answering nature’s call
My mate and I were relaxing in the Nevada desert when we noticed a toilet rapidly approaching.
An hour before, we had left the interstate and driven our camper about 10 miles down a narrow, rough road. From there, we drove a dirt track that dead-ended at a washed-out creek bed. It would be our home for the night; we pulled out our lawn chairs and books. The sun was low in the sky; the clouds were blood red.
My mate and I felt entirely alone until … “Is that a porta-potty?” Ellie asked. To the west, more than a quarter-mile away and silhouetted by the sinking sun, looked to be a floating outhouse. Because of the undulations of the terrain, we could only see the top half of whatever it was.
Not being able to come up with a plausible explanation for a floating commode, my imagination began to run wild. Could it be a mirage, hallucination … a UFO? I’ve read of those alien abductions and probings. Having undergone a couple of colonoscopies, I did not welcome another performed by some little dude with a huge head and saucer eyes.
I will admit that my first thought was to save myself. “You stay here,” I said. “I’m going into the camper to get a weapon and binoculars.” Rather than return to my mate, I climbed on the roof for a better look and to be further away from the aliens. I wasn’t abandoning her; I just felt that by maintaining the higher ground, I could keep any probing to a minimum.
Looking through my binoculars, I was relieved that it was not a spaceship. It was, in fact, a portable toilet with the name “Dainty-Dumper” stenciled on the front. And from my higher vantage, I could see it was on the back of a pickup and was, in fact, heading toward us.
Knowing abduction was unlikely, I returned to my mate and lawn chair. Sure enough, a few minutes later, the huge truck pulled up and stopped about 50 feet away at a fork in the road. Two guys got out wearing work clothes and cowboy hats.
I walked over and said, “Thank God you guys showed up. My wife ate Mexican food for lunch.”
They looked at me like I was crazy. That didn’t bother me. They were the ones driving in the middle of nowhere with a toilet on their truck.
As if on cue, both guys started laughing. I think they finally remember the porta-potty. They then noticed the 10-foot drop in front of our truck and realized they had to take the other fork.
We exchanged pleasantries. I told them we were on our way to the Sierras to bike and ski, and they said they were from a nearby town and were having a father-son campout hosted by their Mormon church. They warned us that there would be 50 kids and parents sleeping about a half-mile away.
They asked if I liked children. I said I was a vegetarian. Seems that Latter-Day Saints don’t always get my jokes.
One of them mentioned we had passed Cliven Bundy’s ranch about 10 miles back.
They explained that they were tasked to arrive early to set up the outhouse and kitchen tent but were worried they might have given poor directions to those yet to arrive. After telling us their names and the name of their Ward (parish), they asked us to direct those arriving to take the right just before our truck.
For the next hour, when trucks full of kids and dads would approach, I’d get up, point down the road and say, “The Second Ward father-son campout is that way. The Dainty Dumper is accepting donations.”
It wasn’t long after that when the two original guys drove back without the toilet and thanked us for our help. They sat on their tailgate, and we talked about everything from the weather and skiing to kids and even the Boston Red Sox (one of them did some missionary work in Lowell).
They asked what pot legalization had done to our state, and I said, in our opinion, it was not a big deal and said no more. I asked them their thoughts on the Bundys, and they said they grow and sell wonderful melons and left it at that.
They invited us to join them for “tinfoil dinners” and a bonfire, and we respectfully declined. (I think they might have been relieved.)
Lying in bed later that night, we could both smell their campfire but heard no noise. It hit me that even though we were two extremes of the social, political and spiritual spectrum, we had more in common than that which divides us. Yes, my religion does not ban coffee and bourbon, but they had a better toilet.
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at email@example.com. Biff’s new book, “Mind, Body, Soul,” is available at local shops and bookstores or shop.holpublications.com/products/biff-america-mind-body-soul.
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