I spent the first three nights of family vacation in my brother’s camper
with my brother and sister-in-law, my eight-year-old niece, Jonna, my six-year-old
nephew, Mikey, Ben, the baby lab, and Lilo and Stitch, the weasels. For a chain-smoking
loner, this was a challenge, although it was a comfortably chaotic experience.
The only place for me to steal a bit of time alone was in the camper’s
bathroom, so I spent a significant amount of time “moving my bowels.” By the end of the
first day, “Auntie has to move her bowels” became a catchy vacation phrase.
On the second morning, after a particularly satisfying movement, I emerged
from the camper to find Mikey wandering about the picnic area singing a little ditty that
he had just composed. It went something like this:
“Bowels. I move my
bowels. I move my bowels. I move my bow-wow-wow-owls.”
I was reminded of
the songs that I used to make up at his age... though none of mine were quite as
enchanting. Delighted by his creativity, I immediately chimed in. We sang Mikey’s song
tirelessly while preparing to go to the beach and then in the car during the drive. On
our way to the beach we would pass a church with a statue of the Virgin Mary on the front
“Watch for the statue of the Blessed Mother, so that we can make
the sign-of-the-cross when we pass Her,” I said to the children.
the sign-of-the-cross, Auntie?” They asked. I forgot that John and Donna weren’t doing
the religion thing with them.
While demonstrating the
sign-of-the-cross, I realized that it would make a perfect four-count to start the bowel
song. Why we could clap and begin singing on the “amen!” We practiced our bowel song
and sign of the cross routine for the rest of the ride to the beach. It was a delightful
I’m grateful that John and Donna don’t object to bathroom humor.
Parents today are different than when I was a kid. Some parents frown upon bathroom
humor. There’s even a subculture of parents that will not allow their kids to play with
toy guns! My brother and sister-in-law are not those kinds of parents. In fact, my
brother often brings Mikey along when he goes hunting. There is a photo on their mantle
from last fall of them wearing their matching father-and-son hunting outfits and proudly
holding up the corpse of a buck.
And so we practiced the bowel song all
week. We incorporated exotic sound effects, added some rap lyrics and even choreographed
some very Janet Jackson-like dance steps.
Like any artistic effort, the
bowel song became a joyful work in progress. Although I have high hopes for the bowel
song, my brother thinks I’m crazy. I imagine us making a name for ourselves (like
Johnnie and the Scatterblasters). We could cut a video for MTV and go on The
International Bowel Tour. Perhaps we could sing at the presidential inauguration and
maybe even at the Grammys.
The last time we were practicing our song, I
added a line about bowels moving rapidly. This prompted Jonna to ask me if bowels were
the same thing as poopies. Before I could answer, Mikey did. “No Jonna, bowels are the
tubes inside your bum that you move to make the poopies come out,” he explained.
I smiled broadly, impressed with his remarkable insight into such an
intricate biological process. Before I could ask how he knew such a thing, he continued,
as if reading my mind.
“They’re the things we pull out of the deer. Of
course, we don’t eat the bowels because they’re usually filled with poopies.”
“Of course,” I replied. “But maybe you could cut them up into
natural-casing bowel sausages and feed them to the dog,” I suggested.
“No, if we don’t eat it ourselves, we feed the heart to the dog,” he
“You eat the heart?” I asked incredulous. Mikey is the picky
“But you wont eat fish?”
“Maybe you should try fish again.”