Monday, April 30, 2012

Chamber Pots

Chamber pots are, in my world, a vanished Thing.  A THing with a capital TH, spoken of with hushed tones and curled lips  and surreptitious glaaahs and gaaaks by people of my mother's generation.

Mum glaaahs and Dad is smug.  He might have had an outdoor dunny when he was a nipper, but it was a flushing model, in a shed with electric lights, even.  My city-girl Mum gaaaks and says that she spent her summer holidays in country-er towns than the one he came from - towns where the dunnykin man came once a week in a horse-drawn cart, trailing a boiling cloud of black flies behind.

HER dunny was a dunnykin - a glorified milk bucket in reverse, under a hole in a wooden seat.  A new one was delivered every Monday.  By Wednesday it was unspeakable in the boiling Aussie summer, by Thursday it was crawling, and by Sunday night it was crawling an inch up underneath your bum.

The dunnykin man worked in dark and secrecy - by broad daylight.  On delivery day, Nice People huddled in their living rooms and were ostentatiously Not There as he stealthily carried the noisesome gong bucket down the garden path to where the horses stood, and stamped, and trailed a boiling cloud of black flies behind them, all new hatched and rising straight up out of the muck.

Chamber Pots are unlamented, unmourned, unremembered and unknown to me and mine.  Last year, just before we left Australia, I fount two elegantly enameled tin basins in a thrift store.  They were teal and celadon blue, and I brought them home to put flowers in - a la Martha Stewart - at a tea party.

We never held the tea party, on account of packing up the house to move to Chile instead, but my Mother visited me last week and I held one here in her honor, and brought out the new flower pots to decorate the tea-table.
Mum screamed.
            "Chamber Pots!"  She shrieked.
After a brief moment of dismay, I giggled. 
            "No one will know."  I said.  "I didn't.  And Martha Stewart would call it Retro-rust-pan Chic!"
Mum glaaah'd.  AND gaaak'd.  But nobody knew.  And Martha Stewart would have smiled, enigmatically, and cut me a bunch of roses.

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