When I was 14 my parents moved us from our little rented house in a tree-lined street, close to the city, to a brand new house that they bought in an outer Melbourne suburb. It’s now full of housing estates, still rapidly expanding but back then we were one of the first families to live there, so for a couple of years we lived on a dirt road, had to collect our mail from the milk bar and literally had to walk through 3km of fields from the bus stop to our house. But the best part was, we had an outside toilet. You know, a tiny tin shed, with a metal drum and a piece of wood across it with a hole. On Tuesdays the Shit Can Man would come and collect the metal drum, dump it into his Shit Can Man truck and for a few glorious hours, we wouldn’t have to see the collected bowel works of the Nicholson Family.
My Dad turned 40 a few months after we moved in and my parents, in their wisdom, decided to have a party on a Saturday, three days before Shit Can Man was due. I think you can see where this is going.
The party was attended by many, it was a big night and in the morning, the horrific reality was evident to everyone. The toilet was full. Like, full full and the Shit Can Man was not coming to save us for a couple of days. This is when the discussion started and I’m not entirely sure how decisions were made because the adults came up with the plan but what I do know is somehow I got involved in the plan and I played a pretty major part that became one of the most traumatic moments in my childhood.
My Dad, an uncle and a neighbour loaded the metal drum into the back of our station wagon, covered the top with a garbage bag and then it was my job to sit in the back of the car, holding the garbage bag on and making sure not too much waste sloshed out. Oh, you’re gagging right now? You are? YOU ARE? I’m Andy fucking Dufresne, where’s my Morgan Freeman voiceover?
We drove all of 1km but even with the windows down and the station wagon hatch door open so I wouldn’t die…or could throw myself out when it all became too much…the four of us dry retched the whole way. When the car stopped, my dad, uncle and neighbour all carefully removed the metal drum from the car and carried it over to the train tracks, then poured out the contents and the three of them all immediately started throwing up. This took my mind off my own olfactory misery and I laughed until I cried.
Parties were banned at our house until we had an indoor toilet.