“With the government shutdown set to enter its third week, and with the possibility of it lasting for months more, the most tangible evidence of its impact appears to be the most gastronomical… At national parks across the country, human excrement is piling up, bathrooms have become unbreathable heaps of bodily fluids, and park officials are noticing visitors relieving themselves in places where they should not be.” — The Daily Beast

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Where once it was rare that the man or woman of refinement would find themselves in need of open-air relief, current politics (and bodily exegencies!) now seem to demand it. One should hardly let one’s basest physical compulsions discourage a weekend jaunt in one of our nation’s natural crown jewels, making it inevitable that profane and sacred shall meet, and our poops shall be made in the woods. Yet nor should our parks be brought to ruin by this brown stain. This being the case, the least one can do is drop one’s deuces with a bit of dignity and poise. And so, we have resolved to write a set of guidelines for the aspiring decorous defecator en plein air.

First, one will need the proper utensils. Invest in a trowel — metal, not plastic, this is no place to be a miser! One will also need to forage one’s own leaves (on avoiding the pitfalls of poisonous buttwipes, please see our “botany” section) and a stick, which should be approximately a foot and a half in length and have a bit of heft without being a branch in its own right; discretion is not necessarily the object here, but neither should one wish to arrogantly proclaim the superiority of one’s poophole by having an obscenely large marker. One may wish to calligraph some calling cards by hand to leave at the mound (such personal touches do not go unnoticed!), should people so admire the work there done that they wish to be brought under its steward’s toilet tutelage. When preparing to purge, the order of one’s mise-en-place is paramount. The trowel should be placed farthest from the right hand, with leaves in the center and the stick to one’s immediate right, in order that one may work inward as the course of things advances.

When selecting an appropriate location in which to poop, avoid public thoroughfares, pavements, and the patently crumbling institutions of our society, and most especially actual, designated lavatories — these being the starkest and rankest emblem of our decline. Instead, seek out a portion of arable land, as you are about to take up a plowshare of sorts.

Before the main event, one must dig a hole. The poop will be deposited there, so be sure both to time the digging with enough premeditation that the job can be completed before urgency reaches a fever pitch, and to dig to a depth that is in accordance with the anticipated quantity of one’s emissions. If small roots should obstruct one’s progress, use the blade of the trowel to slice through them and continue the endeavor. Ladies, should you find your upper body strength inadequate to the task, DO NOT ask a man to fill in. Men must never know that ladies poop (on other things a man must never know, consult our “marriage” section posthaste). Simply find the nearest body of water by using your well-honed instincts (on honing one’s instincts, our “orienteering” section is indispensable) and plop the evidence down in there instead. Surely that won’t cause any more damage in the future than the havoc that would be wreaked by disclosure of your private grotesqueries to the more robust sex (regrettably, we do not have a “public health” section in this issue).

Supposing you’ve not been dissuaded from the poop-in-the-hole method, proceed to the following steps: glance around to ensure privacy, drop your trousers, do the doo, and clean up. Place the soiled leaves in the hole, then retrieve the trowel and cover over the whole mess with the dirt you have turned previously. Place the stick upright in the center of the earthen mound, and if applicable, rest your calling card upon the base of the stick. Do not tarry overlong in amusement at your own achievement — no one likes a gloater. Rather, return to one’s party if in a company or, if alone, take a moment instead to meditate on the choices that have brought our souls so low as to be pooping in holes in the woods.

In sum, I have said before (I paraphrase, of course) that manner is personality, which is the outward manifestation of one’s innate character, so surely stool is the outward manifestation of yet more profoundly internal contents. It is therefore fitting that one should outfit oneself with a thorough and sound etiquette of crapping. Perhaps, in due time, the refinements of our political state will come to emulate the peerlessness of our poos.