Picture this. Carrie Bradshaw sitting in a casually rolled up sweater late at night, intently typing out an aphorism about modern love and sex on her thick 90s Apple Macbook: there’s a battle between what we know and what we feel.
Now picture this. It’s a sleep-deprived undergrad with her unwashed hair tucked away under a cap, legs raised on the seat to alleviate tension in the lower abdomen, stomach sporadically squeaking and squelching, typing out an aphorism about bodily functions and especially shitting, on a Macbook Pro. The point is, we should loosen up! Let’s break up the small talk with some TMI.
I’ve learnt from chatting to friends and family that most of us are a bit sensitive. We go funny with certain foods, and have embarrassing social experiences where we just really need to fart or lie down because our tummy is blowing up with unknown gases. Half our population complain of some digestive problem in any 12 month period according to The Gut Foundation Australia. I’ve gone weeks without plopping a single poop whereas another friend will poo at least four times on a regular day. Undercooked onions and any form of kale immediately make my stomach swell into a painful food pregnancy and I still haven’t figured out what dairy is doing to me (but I will never stop eating cheese???) Sometimes, when eating out with others and ordering, you really don’t want to be the party pooper but what if you are literally going to be the pooper at the party later on? Shit happens. It can be an uncomfortable, awkward, queasy and queefy reality.
If my Grandma is visiting us from China, after we’ve said the generic good morning’s, our conversations go somewhat like this:
Grandma: So how was your poo this morning? Has it happened?
Grandma: What was the consistency? Hard, in chunks, soft?
Grandma: *proceeds to give me some dietary advice and other handy hints based on my answers e.g. rubbing my hand in a circular motion on my belly while it is running under hot water in the shower, drinking hot water with sesame oil and honey or eating more radishes. All to varying degrees of success.
What I’m saying is that there is no harm in normalising this kind of TMI small talk à la G’ma. Instead of discussing the weather or the horrible traffic on Anzac Parade, why not make inquiries as to your pal’s digestive health? The gastro-intestinal system is physiological and is therefore interconnected with your mental, emotional wellbeing. If you really want to show you care, you could even throw in some more scientific measurement – on the Bristol Stool Chart, where did you fall today?. Fluffy pieces with ragged edges, a mushy stool? Oh dear, that’s diarrhea (ideal stools are 3-4).
All in all, here’s a gal taking one farty step away from the insouciance of Carrie Bradshaw drumming out columns about sex or love with a casual midnight beer and smoke (will definitely bloat). Instead, let’s get down to dumps and talk about shit sometimes, or all the time. Let’s celebrate the regularity of our bowels together and support each other through the irregularities, the runs, the hard-as-rocks, the blockages and the TMI.