Gene Weingarten: Poop in a hoop

November 3, 2011

If you’re like me, you have a really bulbous nose and haven’t bought new underpants since 2007.

Okay, that didn’t work. “If you’re like me ...” is supposed to be a good way to start a column because it establishes instant rapport with the reader. But, apparently, one must try for common ground. Let’s try again.

If you’re like me, when you wake up in the middle of the night with a good idea, you never have a pen or paper around, so you myopically shuffle into the bathroom and scrawl on the mirror with a bar of soap, and if you can’t find soap, you have been known to use toothpaste.

Trying again:

If you’re like me, you reserve roughly equal measures of contempt for adults who ride bicycles on the sidewalk, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.


(by Eric Shansby)

Trying again:

If you are like me, you just now told your spouse the following thing, which she did not find at all odd: “The new paper towels you bought have a chemical aftertaste. I’m not enjoying it at all. Please don’t get them again.”

Trying again:

If you’re like me, you like to stay active.

(This is showing promise.)

If you’re like me, you like to stay active, so you engage in a sport.

(Cooking with gas!)

If you’re like me, you like to stay active, so you engage in a sport of your own invention, which you nonetheless pursue with the same sort of monomaniacal zeal that has been known to cause marital discord for, say, weekend golfers.

Like basketball, your sport depends largely on hand-eye coordination, at which you excel. Like baseball, it is a game of inches. And like most major sports, it entails the use of a projectile — a “ball,” if you will — unique to itself and aerodynamically suited to the sport: a knotted bag of dog poop.

The Fecathlon.

You are appalled by your own crudity. But you needn’t be. There is dignity to the genesis of this sport: It is an extension, as are many sports, of some basic, primitive human endeavor. Boxing comes from combat. The javelin throw, from big-game spear-hunting. The sprint, from when your spear misses.

In this case, the primitive underlying fact is that the human animal domesticates other animals; these domesticated animals defecate; disposal is our responsibility. Why not turn it into an athletic event?

So every morning you leave your house unapologetically, not just with your dog and a plastic newspaper sleeve, but also a tape measure. Once the sleeve is full, you knot it. This creates a projectile with “swing,” a form of pendular motion that increases angular acceleration, facilitating throws of greater distances. (This slingshot phenomenon also occurs with the Olympic hammer throw.)

Yours is an outdoor sport, with the attendant uncertainties. Wind is a factor, as is, to a lesser extent, terrain — overhanging tree branches might dictate adjustment of the desired arc of the throw. The rim you are shooting for — a regulation municipal garbage can — is a circle 28 inches in diameter and 42 inches off the ground. If this sounds easy, all I can say is: so does golf, until you try it.

The Fecathlon is no sissy sport; it requires steady nerves, because it is often performed in front of an audience. Failure can bring humiliation, in the walk of shame to retrieve an errant throw. Failure can also be spectacular. This has not yet happened to you, but thin plastic is without much structural integrity; a rim shot threatens detonation, which promises reprisals. (See “sprint,” above.)

As in track and field, you are in pursuit of the record books; because it is your sport alone, every effort promises a new world record. The current world record is 27 feet 6 inches.

Okay, trying again:

If you’re like me, your pants have pockets.

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