I always have the urge to do poos when I’m in a book shop. Honestly, whenever I have trouble with the Big Jobs (which is pretty much every time I travel) I can just pop into a book shop and we’re in business. Only I need to ensure there’s an oval office very handy because it will happen very suddenly.
Evidently this is not a phenomenon peculiar to me. Steve Vizad wrote in his memoir that he is also afflicted, Jerry Seinfeld talks of it publicly and on Google I found a whole forum discussion dedicated to the very same. Why does this happen? Is there some kind of association between paper and defecating? Is it related to toilet paper or did we all, in this or previous lives, wipe our arses with book pages in times of shortage?
Some people find that newsagents bring on the urge and one person decided that it was all because she once wiped her arse with a valentine’s card (wow, that’s some rejection). I rarely read on the loo so there goes that association theory. I do remember a book that smelled a bit like poos but it was a very old book and my urge doesn’t discriminate between new and second hand book shops. Besides, it takes repetition to invoke conditioning. Look at Pavlov’s Dogs – it took regular feeds with the bell to have them dribbling at the ding-dong. So apparently it’s a no to Pavlov’s Log.
And I have a lot of books in my life – I read every day, I read to my children everyday, there’s a large bookshelf in the living room and a stack by my bed, yet they don’t bring on the urge to dump. So it can’t just be books. Further research reveals that it’s not book shops for all but other shops that involve browsing – music shops, second hand shops, antique shops, stationery shops, craft shops and video libraries are all places that see browsers growing a tail.
So the common crap connection is shops and browsing then? I’m thinking that whichever your preferred browsing ground – which ever shop stocks your favourite items, is the one most likely to have you clenching your sphincter and sweatily searching for Mr Johnson. So could it be that our anuses are linked to desire? Yes ok I’ve heard of Backdoor to Buttsville but I don’t mean sexual desire, I mean that for some reason, as we peruse material items we desire, our rectums react. Perhaps it’s a relaxation thing – I often choose to spend leisure time wandering about a book shop, so maybe it’s a simple case of relaxed bowels. But then, I’m currently holidaying in the tropics and haven’t laid down on the banana lounge only to find I need to lay a banana of the brown variety. So maybe it’s the standing up, browsing position combined with relaxation.
Conversely though, of late, with 3 small children and not much spare time, my book shop meanderings are actually pretty angst ridden affairs. Usually I’m supposed to be somewhere else, or on my way, or have some bogan child grizzling over the Ben-10 / Barbie section. And without fail I am anxious with indecision – I’d like to buy piles of new releases but can’t justify the $$ or the sleepless nights. It’s all ’round slightly torturous and far from relaxing. So it is anxiety-related stool release? After all, if someone gets a huge fright then commonly exclaim, “Christ I nearly shat myself!” But then there are people who can only dump in the comfort of their own bathrooms, when they are all but anxious, everywhere else they get all sphincter-shy. So perhaps these are the people who don’t shit in shops ( I think we are a minority – my husband thinks I’m a freak).
My theories seemed to be thwarted at every turn.
I looked again at the anecdotal evidence and found that a couple of people report having bowels loosen in libraries, which means it’s not just shops. And when I think about it I do have to use the State Library loos most times I’m there, and what’s more, they always, always STINK. So that eliminates shops as well as books and leaves two common factors amongst all these turd reports – browsing and standing (it doesn’t happen when I browse the internet sitting at my desk). So, the next step is for some post grad student to do a thesis on the Links Between Bowel Function and Walking About Browsing. I bet there’d be a huge response and I bet independent book stores will start installing loos and find their (book-selling) business picks up (I like to support them but Borders is so convenient for the poo-challenged).
And I will, when next I’m having trouble firing the poo-poo gun, experiment with browsing something other than a book shop, maybe hand bags, I do like hand bags (and they’d be more useful than books when the loo’s not handy).