March/April 2016

March April 2016 Orion Cover

9 Places to Pee in the Great Outdoors

1. The Ocean. If you are female, and at least three feet tall so that the waves do not knock you down, or so I am told, not that I asked or anything. Also the ocean is already salt, so you are just adding apples to apples.

2. Portable Toilets. Much like an ocean, they are suitable for use by women and men; they are usually the only warm, dry places as far as you can see; sometimes they are even clean; and they have names like Honey Bucket, and Johnny on the Spot, and Tanks Alot, and Oui Oui Enterprises, and Willy Make It. America is a great country.

3. The Gender-Neutral Bathroom with the Baby-Changing Station at the Hemp Festival, when there are long lines at both the women’s and the men’s bathrooms, and you dart into the neutral bathroom, actually telling yourself that this is not cheating, because you do have kids, and you have changed thousands of diapers, and you have sometimes felt neutral as to gender, so this is totally fair use.

4. The Men’s Bathroom at the Summer Prose in the Park Literary Reading, when you are a female person, and there is an  incredible line at the women’s bathroom, and not one man in the men’s bathroom, because you are at a reading by Elizabeth Gilbert or Cheryl Strayed, and you slip into the men’s room, feeling half-silly and half-proud, and you discover a line of twenty women who had the same idea as you did, including Cheryl Strayed.

5. Cornfields in August. There’s a lot to be said for casually stepping into a thicket of vegetative beings taller than you are, lined up in tight ranks as far as you can see, and then stepping back out a minute later, pretending that you walked into the corn because you thought you saw a fox. Didn’t you guys see that flash of orange? Was it just me?

6. The Mossy Old Dining Room Chair in that secret arbor near the trailhead that only women know about because two women carried a chair there once and cut the hole in the seat and dug a hole beneath the chair and checked for the twentieth time that no one can see it from any angle whatsoever and then they went home knowing they had served thousands of their sisters well.

7. Back Porch at Night, or front porch, if you are male, and can slip out while ostensibly letting the dog out. You can also say that you are looking for comets, or nighthawks, or owls, or constellations, or NSA drones, or the face of the Madonna miraculously projecting from the deodar cedar suddenly, but these are whopping lies, and your whole family knows it, even the dog.

8. Any and All Doughnut Shops, and Coffee Shops, and Fast-Food Emporia, and Ranger Stations, if you are female, because the fact is that peeing outdoors when you are female can be nerve-racking, especially if you are alone, because another fact is that yes, a lot of men are weird, and safety and privacy ought not to ever be taken for granted, especially by dunderheaded men writing lists of best places to pee outdoors; and also technically all shops and stations with clean bathrooms and doors that lock are outdoors, if you stop and think about it.

9.America’s Pacific Northwest Coastal Forest, in the moist warm spring, when skunk cabbage reaches its full growth and stench, and the huge leaves make huge targets from the porch. There are few sounds as hilarious as a small boy pittering on skunk cabbage from twenty feet up and laughing so hard that everyone near him starts laughing too without knowing quite why.

Brian Doyle (1956-2017) was the longtime editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland, in Oregon. He was the author of six collections of essays, two nonfiction books, two collections of “proems,” the short story collection Bin Laden’s Bald Spot, the novella Cat’s Foot, and the novels Mink RiverThe Plover, and Martin Marten. He is also the editor of several anthologies, including Ho`olaule`a, a collection of writing about the Pacific islands. Doyle’s books have seven times been finalists for the Oregon Book Award, and his essays have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, OrionThe American ScholarThe Sun, The Georgia Review, and in newspapers and magazines around the world, including The New York TimesThe Times of London, and The Age (in Australia). His essays have also been reprinted in the annual Best American EssaysBest American Science & Nature Writing, and Best American Spiritual Writing anthologies. Among various honors for his work is a Catholic Book Award, three Pushcart Prizes, the John Burroughs Award for Nature Essays, Foreword Reviews’ Novel of the Year award in 2011, and the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2008 (previous recipients include Saul Bellow, Kurt Vonnegut, Flannery O’Connor, and Mary Oliver).”