Tony Leighton is a Canadian writer happily retired and attempting to help others feel the same.

Eliminating Wisdom

Illustration: Guardian Design

Illustration: Guardian Design


I’ve been holding this one back (so to speak). It’s about toileting. Stay with me. I’ll try not to fall into dumb puns. The next couple of minutes could change your life.

Part of the writer’s art is being able to deliver any subject in a way that the reader will not only pay attention (more of a challenge than ever these days) but feel touched in some place.

The place I want to talk about is where you sit every day, hopefully once or more.

Last November, I came across a Guardian article entitled, “Bowel movement: the push to change the way you poo” and I thought, “This better be good. If it’s just another way to grab the eyeballs, my opinion of the Guardian will decline.”

I was not disappointed. In fact, the article was a minor revelation. The advice it provided has, in a small but vital way, changed my life. I present it here in the hope that your life too might get a little sunnier.

The article is long. Once a Guardian writer is onto something, you often get more of the story than you expected. In this case, the entire history of pooping is unfurled along with a detailed tour of the physiology of elimination, in particular the science of the puborectalis.

The subject has been gleefully grasped and twirled by the writer (Alex Blasdel) with flourishes such as: “Shitting, like death, is a great leveller. It renders beluga caviar indistinguishable from tinned ham, a duchess as creaturely as a dog.”

But the nut of the thing is a piece of extruded plastic called Squatty Potty.

Devised by a man named Bobby Edwards and his mother, and first marketed in 2011, more than five million had been sold by the time the Guardian piece had been written. Undoubtedly, many more have been sold since.

Celebrity lovers of the Squatty Potty include Sally Field, Jimmy Kimmel, and the professional basketball player, Steph Curry.

I was in a pub the other day and heard a local high school teacher I know loudly proclaiming the virtues of the Squatty Potty to a table full of fascinated listeners. How can we resist fresh news about pooping?

What is Squatty Potty? A plastic stool (apt word) that elevates the feet so that when one is sitting on a toilet, one assumes more of a squat than a sit. The knees rise above the hips. Internally, all systems are instantly oriented for optimum efficiency, sluice-like.

The premise is that we, here in the Western world, have been pooping wrong for centuries. Our sitting promotes constipation and harmful pressure (often resulting after many years in the dreaded hemorrhoids). Most relevant, when sitting, the puborectalis muscle — a muscle you didn’t even know you owned — cannot adequately do its thing, which is to relax and release.

Okay. Enough. Bottom line (so to speak): try it. Laugh now perhaps. Later, you will thank me.

You don’t have to shell out (U.S.) $20 for the Squatty Potty (which comes in various colors and even with a night light) or any of its competitors, like the Squateasy. You might have something at home that could work just as well. IKEA sells plastic stools for kids at about (CDN) $7. I use a tiny folding writing desk designed for writing in bed, which I almost never did. It produces far better results in its new location.

Life changing? Yes. Slightly and happily. And better late than never. Another benefit of lifelong learning.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, a gobsmackingly entertaining video that renders the unmentionable amusingly memorable. If you choose to click, you will be one of more than 36 million who have thus far. No wonder that little stool has become such a giant.


Will we ever know what to say?

The Trap of a Rigid Worldview