Friday, May 31, 2013

A Fishing Story, Two-Holers and Blue-Green Flies

I have often been accused of not being quite right in my faculties of wonder for some of the things that I wonder about. Not only do I wonder about strange things, I also wonder at strange times.  I can’t help it. It just happens.

In the state of Iowa, it is against the law to return a carp to the water, if you catch one. They are considered rough fish and they are an invasive species. You’re supposed to leave on them on the bank to drown. Some parks, where carp are readily caught, have trash cans labeled just for disposing of your carp catches.

I don’t have a problem with killing the fish that I catch if the law requires it. It just doesn’t seem right to simply leave the dying fish lay. What if the situation were reversed?

The bass threw a line up onto the riverbank with a frosted mug of cold beer for a lure. There isn’t a man alive that could resist picking up that cold frosted mug on a hot summer day at the river. Before the frost turned to condensation, the bass felt a hit.

One of the treble hooks in the mug handle snagged the man’s hand and he jerked back in pain, only to set the hook hard. The big man screamed as he fumbled, one handed, to open his belt knife and cut himself free. He dropped his knife, lost his footing and was reeled into the river.

The bass was disappointed with the unhealthy look of what he had caught. There not being a school of piranha nearby to give his catch to, he wanted to throw him back onto the bank. Then the warden, who was a big bullhead catfish, happened along.

“Looks like you got yourself a big lazy redneck there. What did you catch him with?”

“A frosted mug of cold beer that had Eagle Claw trebles in the handle.”

“Yeah, it figures. Those nasty things can’t resist a cold beer. Well, remember… you can’t throw it back onto the bank.”

“It seems cruel to keep it under water until it drowns.” The bass had a kind heart.

“Doesn’t matter. It’s the law.” The warden was seasoned in his work and had no compunction for a drowning white human. “It’s an invasive species anyway. When the brownskins lived above, life was good for everyone. They respected the lands, rivers and lakes. These white ones just take whatever they want and they proliferate like carp.”

“I didn’t realize that it was that bad.”

“Oh yeah,” the warden went on. “You could give these things a beautiful piece of the earth with mountains on one side of a lake and fertile land on the other side of the lake. They would strip-mine the mountains; build factories spewing sewage into the lake and lay asphalt, concrete and steel over the bottom land.”

“No kidding,” said the bass, fluttering his pectoral fins.

“It’s the truth. What’s more, they’d have twin Yamaha engines pushing them all over the lake at ridiculous speeds while they drank beer and complained that the fishing wasn’t as good as it used to be.”

The human had stopped struggling. He hung motionless in the water. The bass twisted the hook from its hand. He would float to the surface eventually and the other humans would find him and pull his carcass from the water. That was about the only garbage that they cleaned up.

Another thing that I’ve often wondered about is the outdoor privies of the days when we didn’t have indoor toilets. I’m not old enough to remember the old Sears catalog or corn cobs in the privy. They always had a roll of toilet paper in my youth. It might have been soggy but it was there.

I also remember that there were some one-holers and there were some two-holers. Why did they make two-holers? I really don’t think the people sat there together and holding hands while they pooped. It also seems unlikely that there could be an amorous dalliance in a little house full of stink and blue-green flies. Could you imagine sitting there, bib overalls around your ankles and taking care business, when Grandpa Walton charged in to do a blow down right beside you?

Many of my privy memories are of when I was a toddler and what was to be eventually a dangler was only a little dilly at the time. That kept one of my hands busy holding the little one southward to avoid peeing down my leg. The other hand was hanging on for fear that I might end my life in a world of shit if I fell through. I could see the practicality for a two-holer if one was child-sized and the other was cut to fit big Aunt Bertha.

Big Aunt Bertha’s privy had seats made of bridge planks so that she wouldn’t break through. The problem with that was the rough cut of the wood. After I would scoot my little butt onto and off of that bridge plank I needed minor surgery to remove the splinters.

The other possibility that I have wondered of is that maybe the two-holers were his and hers. That way the boys wouldn’t pee on the girl’s toilet seat. Then that begs the question of why wouldn’t you color code them pink and blue?

Seriously, think about it. Imagine that you’re a house guest and you’re doing a potty trot in the middle of the night with nothing but a kerosene lantern to light your way. You don’t know which is his and which is hers. What’s more, you won’t be able to figure it out from the dribble stains in such low light conditions. If there is a fresh dribble then you could sense the right side with a touch test. With color coding, however, his and hers would be visible even in kerosene light.

Thinking about outdoor privies makes me think of blue-green flies, too. They were always in abundance around privies because they lay their eggs on fecal matter, in open wounds or on rotting flesh. Their larvae feed on rotting matter. That caused me to wonder something else when I was watching a Public Broadcast channel program about forensics the other day.

They said on this program that vultures can pick a human or animal carcass clean to the bone in only a few hours. If you think about this from the blue-green fly’s point of view it just doesn’t seem right. Here is 200 lbs of fun-time decaying flesh and before two flies can finish with a smile, the vultures have destroyed the mood by consuming the love nest. It seems like flies should have the same rights that vultures do.

Blue-green flies don’t get much of a chance at open infected wounds, from humans or domestic animals, with modern medicine what it is. There aren’t any more outdoor privies and the buzzards can strip their breeding grounds to the bone in just hours. How are they going to proliferate without rotten stuff for their larvae to feed upon?

I was suffering a virus for couple of days last week that put me on the throne more often than usual. During one of those times I had the plastic bathroom waste basket between my knees to accommodate involuntary expulsion from the other end as well. Then it came to me why some people built two-holers in the olden days. They didn’t have plastic waste baskets in their outdoor privies.

Have you ever wondered about the possibility of a garden hose bidet in the days of privies?


  1. experiences were short too, but I laughed a lot on this article. Sounds like you have a lot of extra time for all that 'wondering'...too funny.

    1. Hey Elle!
      Great to hear from you! I think of the weirdest stuff but don't always have time to write of it. When my fingers do start the keyboard dance I never know until it's over what the lyrics will be.
      I'm happy to have entertained you!

  2. The other night Mike was watching a program about houses for sale in Alaska and in one of the 'luxury' homes they had a two-holer. The only thing luxurious about most of the homes they were showing was the price, but the salesman sort of gave the impression the two-holer was similar to two bathrooms in a real house.

    Can't imagine anyone paying $450,000 for a house that has no water, no bathroom, and no shower. I like my privacy too, but not that much!

    When I lived in Texas it seemed like there were carp everywhere and they were nasty, nasty, nasty....

    Pat Johnson

    1. I have to agree on the need for plumbing. That's pretty basic for a "luxury home." Even with severe winters of some parts of Alaska plumbing could be designed to work without freezing, I would think.

      I wonder, if there is an outhouse with two large holes and a child-sized hole, is that called a two-and-a-half bath home? :))

  3. you have an interesting mind mr. woosley...good thing you can write! :)
    thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, i don't think we'd think them on our own :)
    my best,

    1. Believe it or not, sometimes I think that my fingers just run away on the keyboard. I start with one or two thoughts that seem to proliferate with the keyboard mambo.

      I glad that you enjoyed the read, Sue. Thanks much for the comments!