Little country boys enjoy the glorious freedom of taking a leak in the great outdoors anywhere and at anytime. He will not be inconvenienced during his escapades running home to Momma and the bathroom. Whizzin’ outside is a little boy’s divine right, his manifest destiny, and his heritage. Little boys seldom outgrow this love of nature. Some never do.

As we grew up in rural Kansas, we’d find the closest tree, or if no such obstructions were available, turn our backs to the group, unzip and let it rip. We even had contests. We’ve never outgrown that tendency either; we simply modified the methods, as we became adults. Just watch a group of executives in a board room and then imagine them being little boys out in a pasture. There’s not much difference except they are in 3-piece suits instead of jean shorts.

However, the girls were not impressed. They shrieked, called us names, threatened to tattle, questioned our heritage then complained about life being unfair. Why weren’t they given handy little spigots, too? In the battle of insults of which boys are inclined, the ultimate insult is to hurl this jab: “Oh, yeah, well you have to squat to whizz.” Game over.

Furthermore, little boys are known to deliberately go outside to whizz instead of using the convenience of modern plumbing. They are not trying to save on water; they just feel the call of nature. Little boys seldom outgrow this tendency either. Some never do.

While this act of nature done in nature was, well, as natural for us as breathing, there is one notable story worth repeating.

Christmas arrived each year in time to keep us from turning all Jack-Nicholson-like in The Shining. Long winter nights without television in a drafty old two-story house is enough to turn Mother Teresa into Donald Trump. Since I was the last of six kids and the older siblings were gone, I was expected to entertain myself. It’s hard to play Candyland by yourself.

I read every Hardy Boys book at least ten times and even snuck in a few Nancy Drew stories. Little boys just didn’t read books about girls, but, since no one was around, I’d sneak Nancy in.

Old country houses have their own personality. Drive down a country road in your state and you will see what I mean. Some houses are like stately old patriarchs smoking a pipe with a glass of brandy. Others are like grizzled old cowboys with leathery skin from hours in the saddle, the sun and wind. Then there are houses that look like frumpy hypochondriac old ladies who would find something to gripe about if they won the lottery. Ours was that kind of house.

There is no sound as mournful as an old country house complaining about winter. When the temperature dipped below zero and the north wind howled across the prairie at 50 mph, our house complained more than a little old lady with bunions. So when Christmas started making its way down the road, we rejoiced as one rejoices over sedation for a root canal.

We celebrated with shepherds in bathrobes fawning over a plastic baby Jesus in the church play; a John Deere tractor pulled a hay wagon full of carolers down graveled roads; Dad made peanut brittle, popcorn balls and divinity – all things requiring root canals later in life. But the best part was being turned into pint-sized consumers salivating over the Sears Christmas catalog. Christmas was the best time of the year to feed our need for greed.

Kids today have no idea how big a deal the Sears Christmas catalog was to a bored little country kid. We didn’t have the Internet and we weren’t allowed to watch much television, so the only way to fill our greed was through Christmas catalogs. I literally flipped every one of the 969 pages of the catalog and chose an item from each page for my wish list. Twice. Maybe 3 times. The only exception was the women’s clothing section; I ignored that until I was a teenager.

Allow me to digress; the 1975 Sears Catalog was quite a scandal. That year, on page 602, one of the male models appears to have his whizzer hanging low below the hem of his boxers. Scandalous, I say, scandalous! After numerous letters of protest, Sears said it was a blemish caused by a chemical falling on to the artwork during the printing process. So how many chemicals does it take to explain Miley Cyrus?

Furthermore, Mom couldn’t let a good thing like Christmas go to waste without tossing in healthy dose of fear. We clearly understood that snooping for presents would result with burning coals in our stockings. Mom made such believers out of us we were afraid to open our own closets.

The only time I ever snooped was when I poked my head through a heat register in the upstairs floor and saw them wrapping a second-hand, football uniform for me. It was then I realized that we were poor. For some reason that second-hand Christmas gift was the best ever.

One happy Christmas, my sister Collen’s kids were visiting and her baby boy did the dastardly deed inside the house, much to our delight.

Kelsey, otherwise known as Boo, was Toy’s-R-Us adorable. Everyone loved sweet little Boo, especially my Dad – they were buds. On this glorious Christmas, Boo became our hero.

We had no clue what our presents were, regardless of how many times we shook them. Mine-is-bigger-than-yours seemed to matter for some dumb reason. Still does.

One evening, we were strewn about the living room on the naugahyde furniture watching The Charlie Brown Christmas Special with instructions to keep an eye on Boo. He was easy to watch, especially by the three of us who had a hard time keeping track of ourselves. One of us thought it would be funny to take Boo’s diaper off and let him wander the house a la naturale.

No one paid much attention until he toddled over to the tree and took aim. Since it was a real tree, the smell of pine triggered his natural tendency to whizz, so he let it rip.

We were mortified until we realized that this little fireman hosing down the presents made the wrapping paper transparent. Slowly, like invisible ink starting to show, we began to identify our presents – we all got Spirographs. We giggled; Mom yelled at Boo; Boo began to cry; Dad came out of his study to rescue his little buddy. This was an-oft repeated cycle.

As exciting as it was to have the mysteries revealed, it slowly dawned on us that a cardinal rule had been violated: We saw our presents before Christmas. When that somber reality hit, all three of us looked at Mom much like a puppy being chided for pooping on the floor. We waited to have our noses rubbed in it.

Kendall, Boo’s older brother, felt a need to argue on our behalf with this rationale:

  1. The three older kids were pure as the driven snow and had not looked, no not even once, for our presents before Christmas. Did he mention we were pure as the driven snow?
  2. Boo was still young enough he couldn’t form a coherent sentence so he was beyond the capacity to reason. Therefore, there was no premeditation.
  3. Therefore, we can only conclude it was an act of God.

Typically, Mom employed interrogation tactics that were the envy of the military. She authored The Guantanamo Bay Interrogation Tactics and was a senior advisor to the Gestapo and KGB.

However, we were fortunate that Mom witnessed the crime. Therefore, she avoided the typical interrogation methods of waterboarding, stretching us out on the rack, or staking us over an anthill.

As Kendall continued his opening statement, Mom held up her hands, walked back into the kitchen and muttered something about who in their right mind took his diaper off and let a little kid walk around the house naked. With her absence, we looked to the next authority figure to assess our fate.

Dad was still consoling Boo who was unaccustomed to being in trouble for anything. Ever. Although my Dad tried not to play favorites, Boo did have his own personal coat-of many-colors tailor.

“You guys better hurry and get that wrapping paper off of those presents or the dog will whizz on them, too,” Dad said. “And, yes, you can play with your Spirographs.”

Dad put a diaper back on Boo then we lifted him on our shoulders like faithful subjects carrying their king. He was our hero.

It occurs to me as I write this that the reason I’ve never seen history repeat itself is because we use fake Christmas trees. Fake pine trees do not prompt the natural tendencies in little boys to whizz on the presents. I’ve raised four boys and not one let loose on the tree.

But now I have a great idea! Excuse me, I need to run out and find a real tree: my grandsons are coming over for Christmas. I still think it would be funny to take a diaper off the littlest one and let him wander the house a la naturale. It is, after all, his manifest destiny.


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