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When I was 16 my 19-year-old brother used to hang out with this 30-something lanky, foulmouthed creeper from Brooklyn that told us all about how squatting was better for his colon. “I’m telling ya,” he’d say. “Yah probably got ten or twenty pounds of shit trapped up in your body because yah don’t squat.” Then he went on to describe how he perched on the the toilet like a gargoyle guarding a city to make sure that he won’t have cancer in ten years.
He ended his rant with, “Can I use your toilet? All this talk is really making me need to shit.” And as he entered my restroom, I refused to close my eyes because I knew I’d wind up conjuring an image of him crouched on my toilet seat.
At the time, this was one of the craziest things I’d ever heard, and this nasty man from Brooklyn was all I could think about when I heard about the Squatty Potty.
It’s a bench that sits at the base of your toilet, and raises your legs when pooping into a squatting position so that your colon can be fully extended. I first heard about it on the radio where it was described as the “perfect gift for Mother’s Day.” I described the Squatty Potty on Twitter as a “poop yoga platform” and next thing I knew the makers sent me a free one so I could write about it on my blog.
According to their website, pooping while sitting kinks my colon like a garden hose blocking the flow of waste. Squatting unravels the sucker so that poop can flow like nature intended. The Squatty Potty claims to cure everything from colon cancer to urinary infections. I didn’t suffer from any of these problems, but the thought that I had some clogged pipe in my body that might some day lead to weight gain or death made me nervous. That really was the strange thing about researching this product. By the time I got done reading about it online, I was struck with fear that I might, unwittingly, be shaving years of my life because I pooped incorrectly.
The squatty potty arrived while I was at work and I got a text from my wife asking me if I was serious. “As serious as colon cancer,” I said.
“I’m not using this thing,” was her response.
Somehow she knew I was hoping she’d give it a shot too, and we could compare and contrast… well… results.
I set the thing up next to the toilet, and I will admit, it made pooping exciting again.
I didn’t realize how boring taking a dump had become until I got the Squatty Potty. I started to look forward to my morning poop more so than I… well… ever had. But thinking back, I wonder if it was something different. A new take on a very old problem.
I mentioned that I got a Squatty Potty to a co-worker, and she asked, “How’s that going?”
“Bigger than usual,” I said.
And indeed, it was bigger, and heartier, than usual. In my mind, I could see my colon being stretched out. The Squatty Potty’s slogan is “Happy Colon. Happy Life,” and I wondered if my colon had an emotional state. Perhaps it was happier, more vibrant, that it ever had been before.
My 8-year-old son started using the Squatty Potty, too. I asked him what he thought of it and he shrugged. “It feels like standing while pooping,” he said.
It was then that I realized the Squatty Potty simply kept his legs from dangling.
All the excitement quickly died away, however, and I soon started to realize just how awkward this thing was (as if pooping in general isn’t inherently awkward). Eric Spitznagel at Men’s Health said, “It's like trying to drop a load while sitting criss-cross applesauce.”
I mostly struggled with my pants. It really depended on what I was wearing. If I had something with a loose elastic waist, gym shorts for example, it wasn’t that big of a deal, but if I were wearing jeans, I had to take off my pants to get on the damn thing, which I must say, in the middle of an emergency, can be problematic. After about two weeks, I started to miss the simplicity of just sitting on the can and letting it rip.
Eventually, it felt like more trouble than it was worth. But I kept at it for a few more days, for the sake of my colon. The tipping point really was after a particularly troublesome Mexican meal when I leaned forward while using the Squatty Potty, a little ill and light headed, and nearly took a header into my bathroom tile.
On the Squatty Potty website there is a lot of credible research showing that squatting is beneficial. And you know what, I’m not trying to discredit that. Frankly I’m not qualified. But what I will say is that I’m an American. And I’ve used an American toilet all my life. And frankly, I’m not sure if I’m ready to give up something as wholesome and simple as sitting and pooping.
I will admit, the Squatty Potty has brought to my attention some of the dangers of sitting and pooping, and even though I’m more knowledgeable, I’m stuck in my ways. I know that fast food is clogging my arteries, and yet, right now, I could go for some Taco Bell. I can say the same thing about soda pop or bacon. So I suppose what I’m trying to say here is, using the Squatty potty has simply shown me that I’m not ready to give up the relaxing feeling that comes with sitting down on a traditional American toilet, both feet firmly planted on the floor, and letting it happen.
This is not to say that I might not regret my decision in 20 years after my colon goes from unhappy to dying.
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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress, and an angry baby girl. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His work has been featured in Good Morning America, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, Fast Company, and elsewhere. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.