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  Plunging Into Thanksgiving
WBy Jackie Papendrew
hat do you get when you take a dozen family members of varying ages and degrees of
regularity, put them in the woods in a cabin with one low-flow toilet and then stuff them to the gills with Thanksgiving bounty? You get, of course, a calamitously clogged commode and enough tension to earn a spot on the Jerry Springer Show.
This is what happened to my family one Thanksgiving. Everything began beautifully. We headed to the woods like modern- day Pilgrims, to feast and frolic, to drink in the clear, cold air and give thanks for all our blessings. The women scurried about preparing the meal. The men did what men do on such occasions; they stood around waiting to begin the traditional male holiday jobs of eating and sleeping.
The children sprinted around outside, hands and feet fly-ing, noses running, delirious with the joy of being out of school and unsupervised. When all was ready, we gathered before a table groaning with good food. We salivated at the smell as we offered up our thanks. We were giddy with gratitude. And then we ate. And ate. And when we were bloated like beached whales, every corpuscle groaning from the gluttony, we ate some more.
The trouble began in the magic hour when men assume their positions on the
  couch to catch the kickoffs, and overworked digestive systems begin the Herculean task of breaking down all that food. As it often does, the terrible news came from a single, small voice.
The youngest child emerged from the bathroom shouting excitedly, “The potty’s exploding!”
There are few things less welcome at such a time than the words potty and exploding used in the same sentence.
We scrambled toward the bathroom to assess the situation. By scrambled, I mean the sea lion’s scramble, the rolling, sloshing way every creature dragging more than a ton would scramble.
When we eventually arrived, we gathered soberly around the overworked toilet. The evidence of its rebellion was plainly visible and set off a round of groans and gags in the adults that made the kids giggle.
History will record the ‘90s as the decade of the bum rap, when Congress mandated that toilets should flush with a measly 1.6 gallons of water. Today’s children, deprived of the 3.5 gallons that swirled through our childhoods, are far too well-acquainted with the plunger.
The men began the task of conquering the cranky com-mode. Grandpa, as the patriarch, headed up the attack. He
pumped vigorously with the plunger, then gave a strong pull that sent him flying across the room and left the kids helpless with laughter. Tempers rose, and bladders threatened to burst.
Each football-deprived man then took his turn as a toilet tamer, but, sadly, the effort was flush with failure. The men began to bicker over possession of the plunger. Sweating and muttering curses, each wielded it like a samurai sword as he took his turn in battle. The latrine gurgled and grunted, but would not back down.
The women, watching all their hard work laid waste, did what moms do best; we attempted to assign blame. The children eagerly took part in our vicious finger pointing designed to identify the guilty clogger. Old insults and resentments, slights delivered years ago, resurfaced as brother betrayed brother, daughters cast aspersions
on mothers, and in-laws were made to feel like outsiders.
Accusations of tissue overuse were hurled, and sanitary practices questioned. Legs and expressions were crossed, and eyeballs appeared to be floating. The family was falling apart.
That’s when Grandma stepped in. Brooking no dissent, she ordered everyone into their vehicles, and we headed for the near-est service station, where the call of nature got a grateful reply.
Jackie Papendrew
Syndicated Humor columnist www.jackiepapendrew.com
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