Monarch of the Forest

By Robert Lowe

Autumn was in the air, early that fateful morning as the temperature was a cool 27°. Daylight started casting a golden glow across the valley revealing frost covered fauna in a field beyond the creek. I could see my breath as I started down the winding trail to answer the call of nature.

The dogs were running ahead of me, stopping every time they came upon the scent of some animal who crossed the trail the night before. As I got closer, I could barely see the outline of the open-air outhouse through the trees ahead. A proverbial throne, a store-bought toilet seat mounted to a frame over a hole so far into the woods, that you would get your exercise each time you visit it. A throne so grand, it was fit for a king, where a king could sit in the open and ponder his kingly duties while gazing about his kingdom.

My pace quickened as the call of nature beckoned me in earnest. As I rounded the last bend in the trail, the dogs went in hot pursuit of a grouse they flushed. I was busy getting my pants undone and ready to drop the last few steps, so I would not be wasting time when I got to the throne.

As I settled in, the feeling of contentment flooded over me. I had safely made it! No accidents. I sat there pondering the day ahead and watching the sun rise over the mountain bringing light to the forest darkness. The coolness of the morning air caused my nose to run. I sniffled a couple of times and decided to blow my nose.

I reached down and pulled the plastic lid off the three-pound coffee can containing my precious toilet paper. Not your cheap ordinary single ply, slick sided TP, but the good 2 ply, embossed for softness TP, the kind used by Kings around the world. I reached inside and grabbed the roll of TP and unraveled a foot or so to blow my nose. I was lost in thought, when I laid the roll down at my feet and started blowing my nose. And that’s when it happened……

From out of nowhere, our youngest dog, back from chasing the grouse, streaked by, grabbed the roll of TP at my feet and headed 20 to 30 feet into the woods. The feeling of contentment I had gave way to disbelief as I watched helplessly as the little bugger promptly started shredding the TP.

It wasn’t like at home when you get ready to do the paperwork at the end of the job and there is a one or two torn, glue covered squares stuck to a cardboard tube. You think to yourself, “Why didn’t I look before I sat down.” But most of the time help is just a yell away. “Hon, can you get me another roll of TP.” Or if you are home alone, you can always resort to the “butt clinched, pants around the ankle shuffle” to the cabinet to get some more.

I was overwhelmed by many emotions, from hopelessness to anger, self-blaming to humor and ending up thinking no one will believe this. I found myself pleading with the dog to “bring it here”. This, to a dog who barely comes when you call her by name to dinner. I even called to the older dog and pleaded with her too, but to no avail. So close, yet so far. I considered the “butt clinched, pants around the ankle shuffle” but quickly dismissed the notion when I realized how embarrassed I’d be if I were to be found unconscious and bruised from falling after getting hung up on the tangled undergrowth.

I sat there weighing my alternatives until my legs started going numb. I was thinking I would trade my outdoor kingdom for a roll of TP. In fact, it didn’t have to be a new roll, just enough to get me out of this predicament. That’s when I noticed the box of baby wipes, I’d left there the day before. How lucky can a person get? I reached for the box and brought it to my lap, opened the lid and reached in……. Did I tell you how cold it was that morning? Yep, you guessed it. I had no idea baby wipes could freeze, but I’m here to tell you they freeze. They were not as hard as a rock, but hard enough to make you work to peel one off without tearing it.
Now, I don’t want you to think I wanted to compound matters worse without warming them up a little before I used it. But remember, my legs are numb, and I was thinking of the mess I was going to have to clean up as my dog was living life to the fullest ripping, shredding, tearing and chewing up my roll of TP.

I held my breath as I put the partly frozen baby wipe to work. I took notice as the coldness brought me to my toes. I had an instant ice cream headache where I never imagined. Preparation-H could not shrink hemorrhoids that fast. A weaker person would have passed out, but I endured and overcame. I was able to finish my business, pick up the shredded TP from what seemed like an acre of ground in the woods and tried to scold a dog who was happily playing tag with me.

A weaker person also would not tell on themselves like this. But, Monarchs of the Forest have a duty to protect the dignity of the weaker ones by passing on lessons learned the hard way. So, the lesson today is threefold. First, be sure enough TP is within arms reach before you sit down. Second, while doing your business, protect your TP at all costs and third, remember, baby wipes can and will freeze.