People, in my experience, fall into one of two camps – Those who will read the statement ‘I have poo anxiety’ and know exactly what I’m on about, and those who will read it and say: “What the fuck is poo anxiety?”
For the blessedly unaware, poo anxiety sufferers find the prospect of pooing (or pooping, for American readers) within earshot of another person extremely distressing, if not impossible (I shared a flat with someone for five years, and never once pooed while they were at home, for instance).
Again, and absolutely wishing to labour the point because it will be important later, some people will read the preceding paragraph and nod sagely in understanding, while others will be baffled by the notion that a normal bodily function can cause a person to be anxious, and wonder how on earth that happens.
Well, having burdened you with this grim and unsolicited insight into my suite of neuroses, it’s only right that I explain how it came to pass…
*Wibbly wobbly back in time effect*
November 1980, I am seven years old. My mum has visitors – sisters from the local congregation (she was and still is a Jehovah’s Witness), so I have been banished from the living room while the grown-ups talk.
I am happily chilling in my bedroom, doing seven year old boy things (eating sweets, picking my nose, etc) when I realise the fart I have been holding in for half an hour (I wanted to know if they smell worse when you nurture them) was accompanied by a poo that needed to come out, pronto.
I step over the lethal pile of lego on my bedroom floor, and amble down the hall to the bathroom, opposite the open living room door. I lock myself in, no doubt humming the Banana Man theme tune, hop on to the throne, and, little legs swinging back and forth like the sweet and innocent Summer child I am, let fly…
The fart I had been nurturing functions in much the same way as the bag of gunpowder that gets stuffed up a howitzer behind an artillery shell. The expulsion is sudden, violent, and in our tiny tiled bathroom, very loud. There are echoes, and splashes. ‘Heh’ seven year old me says to myself, ‘that was a good one.’
Then something awful happens. The background noise of murmured conversation and clinking tea cups stops. In its place, there is first silence, then the unmistakeable sound of embarrassed laughter and my mum very firmly closing the living room door.
I realise everyone heard my poo, and I am mortified. In that instant, a layer of pooing un-selfconsciousness is lost to me forever and for the first time, I feel poo-shame. It is the genesis of my poo anxiety. It is my Poo-Ception, if you will…
*Wibbly wobbly forward in time effect*
So, like I said, people fall into one of two camps and if yours includes poo anxiety, you are in that camp for life. But if you are not, take nothing for granted and appreciate every blessed, shame-free poo life allows, because you never know when some religious old ladies will overhear you doing something you wish they hadn’t, and you will once again be reminded that existence is defined by impermanence.
All of which brings me, unbelievably, to the Spirited Awards.
Nominations for the 2024 awards opened yesterday, and upon learning this, you will have fallen into one of two camps – care, or don’t care.
If you care about the Spirited Awards, it’s probably because you believe you are in with a shot of winning one. If you don’t care, it’s probably because you know you are not.
At this early stage, quite a few people are hanging out in the care camp. Most will relocate to Don’t Care when their name fails to appear in the category shortlists. And, if we are being honest, quite a few don’t care campers will simultaneously switch sides because someone they dislike has received a nomination and it’s fun to get angry about such things.
In truth, the only people who can be relied upon to consistently care about the Spirited Awards are the those who get to spend the sponsorship money they generate. Everyone else is fickle, because industry awards and ‘most best’ lists are nonsense and meaningless to anyone not personally involved in them. Which is why I won’t be submitting any nominations until the organisers introduce a ‘Most Soundproof Toilet’ category. I’d be all over that like a cheap suit.
Submit your 2024 Spirited Awards nominations, if you must, here.