by Sean O’Reilly
Many years ago, I flew to Boston to visit my brother in Watertown, Massachusetts. At the time he had a wonderful barn that he had converted into a two-story office and a guesthouse. The flooring downstairs was culled from the demolition of a local high school’s gym and the shelves were lined with books. Skylights completed the picture upstairs. It was a nice place and he was proud of it. He had not however, due to restrictive local building codes installed a bathroom. On the last night of my visit, I asked that the door be left open to the main house so that I might use the bathroom should any nocturnal prompting arise. I was assured that this would be done and later, I went cheerfully to bed.

I awoke early at 5:30 AM and although rested, felt vaguely out of focus. I attributed this to waking up in a strange place. I puttered around for fifteen or twenty minutes until nature suddenly spoke loudly that big business was at hand. I moved swiftly and quietly to the door of the main house but to my surprise, discovered that the door that was supposed to be unlocked was locked. It was far too early to be waking everybody up, so I began to cast about for alternatives there at the crack, so to speak, of dawn. The bushes were not tall enough and there were few trees. There were also, unfortunately, many houses nearby with their lights on and the inhabitants stirring for the morning commute. Something else was also trying to commute and communicate and it hadn’t even had its coffee yet!

My anxious and barely awake consciousness was swamped with rectal messages that alternated between desperate pleadings, to the howling of possessed beasts. I looked about frantically, walking with clenched buttocks, and attempted to maintain composure in a rapidly disintegrating situation. The standard protocols for civilized behavior were starting to break down as they tend to in situations of extreme need. The doll house, the doll house! There was a doll house next to the barn—a bright cheerful thing of pink and yellow plastic and just large enough for an adult. I scurried inside and pleased with my newly acquired privacy released a tidal wave of fecal matter all over the floor. The stench was overpowering in the confined space of such a small area, so I made a hasty exit after performing the necessary ablutions with my tee shirt. The grotesque looseness of the still heaving and uneven mass made me realize that it would be better if it had time to dry before I cleaned it up. I congratulated myself for finding a creative solution to my little problem and washed my hands at the hose. I thought no more about the matter and went back to the barn for an enjoyable hour of early morning reading.

Later that morning and before I left for the airport, I had a wonderful breakfast with my brother and his family. It wasn’t until I got on the plane that I realized I had made no effort to clean up the mess. My fellow passengers must have thought they had a lunatic on board as I thrashed and wheezed in my seat. All I could think about on the way to Virginia was that my brother and his wife would have to tell their young children that no, they could not use the doll house because their uncle had shat in it.



Sean O’Reilly is editor-at-large for Travelers’ Tales ( He is a former seminarian, stockbroker, and prison instructor with a degree in Psychology. A life-long devotee of good humor and all things sacred and profane, his recent editorial credits include: Travelers’ Tales China, The Best Travelers’ Tales 2006, Hyenas Laughed at Me and Now I Know Why, Travelers’ Tales American Southwest, Travelers’ Tales Greece, Travelers’ Tales Ireland, Travelers’ Tales Grand Canyon, Danger!, Pilgrimage, The Ultimate Journey, Testosterone Planet and Stories to Live B and 30 Days in the South Pacific. Widely traveled, Sean most recently completed a journey through the islands of the South Pacific and Malaysia. He lives in Virginia with his wife and six children.