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The Toilet Monster’s in Jail

February 16, 2013

When I was little, my sister and I shared a room which had an adjoining bathroom.  As is to be expected, we used that bathroom quite often, interrupting our game of Barbies or our bedtime chitchat to creep through the bathroom door and disappear for a minute or two.  When it came to going to the bathroom, we had learned the procedure well: close the door behind you.  Wipe.  Wash your hands with soap and water.  And, of course, ALWAYS flush.

And then one day, everything changed.  I was at the grocery store, standing in front of the movies for rent while my mom was shopping.  Bored by the normal romance and kids’ selections, I began to scan the forbidden horror titles.  Though I was relieved that my parents would never actually allow me to watch one of these movies, I was fascinated by the gory, technicolor monster faces grimacing from the covers.

As I moved my eyes over the rack, an image on one of the movie covers caught my eye: a horrible greenish creature scrambling out of a toilet, its eyes narrowed upon me, my destruction its only aim.  I gazed at it for awhile, spellbound by terror and amazement.  When I went home that night and used the bathroom, I couldn’t help but notice how loud the sound of the flush was.  What creatures were being beckoned forth by that booming toilety voice?

And so the toilet monster was born.  Going to the bathroom, which had once been a task that I was proud of myself for having mastered, became an ordeal of horror and panic.  Yes, I could excuse myself from playing and go back into the small bathroom.  But I could no longer close the door behind me.  And flushing–flushing became a nightmare.  The toilet never flushed anymore without the immediate sound of screaming and the desperate scrabble of sprinting feet, fleeing in terror to the safety of the bed.  (The toilet monster could not touch you on the bed.)

Of course I passed my utter terror onto my little sister, who became as much a believer as I was in the hidden doom lurking in our toilet.  I can’t say how long our fear of the toilet monster lasted.  Perhaps six months?  A year?  But either way, it left as abruptly as it came.  Perhaps we became tired of screaming and running every time we had to pee.  Perhaps our parents somehow convinced us that we were out of our minds.

But a possibility even more worth examining is this: perhaps the toilet monster stopped bothering us because we defeated it.  I do remember placing rules on the toilet monster which it was required to obey.  For example, its domain was restricted to the floor.  Once summoned by a flush, it could only grab you if you remained floorbound in the bathroom (which only an idiot would do).  If you jumped up on the bed or onto a piece of furniture, you were safe.  Also, if you shouted out, “Toilet monster’s in jail!” just as you flushed, the monster would be unable to emerge (although we were not entirely confident that it would follow this rule, and so we screamed and ran from it just the same).

It’s possible that our rules against the toilet monster became so strict that it finally decided to leave our toilet for good, moving onto butts that were more easily biteable.  Or perhaps our toilet monster never did actually leave.  Maybe our rules were more effective than we thought they were.  Maybe the toilet monster is still there, sitting in jail, waiting for its time to be up.

Regardless of the hows and the whys, the toilet monster entered our lives unexpectedly and left them just as mysteriously.  I can’t say that I ever miss it or that I completely understand the meaning of its existence in my life.  What I do know is that I am and always have been a huge proponent of the “leave the lid down” policy.

ghoulies toilet monster    <– the offending movie cover

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