Nothing announces the beginning of the new crane season like the arrival of our Sensory Deprivation Chamber/Porta Potty affectionately known to all as “Big Green.” Every spring, it magically appears in camp while we are away… like a giant gift waiting under the tree Christmas morning. Just the very sight of the thing makes you giggle with anticipation and suddenly all you want to do in life is climb aboard and take your seat. It arrives compliments of Packerland Portables, which, in the interest of full disclosure, paid for this endorsement. The name, of course, comes from an old sandlot football team known locally as the Green Bay Packers… a “winning isn’t everything… it’s the ONLY thing” NFL wannabe football team rostered with players so big they could never fit through the door, which is why you will never see “Big Green” on any of the their Sunday afternoon halftime beer commercials. A player might get into it at Half Time, but he would never get out in time for the Second Half. And that’s also why you will never hear them yell, “Hey Coach. Put me in!” no matter how hard you press your ear to the television screen on game day.
But associating “Big Green” with a sporting event of any kind seems like sacrilege. However, this year’s model is so big, I stepped into it the other night and found a local dart team holding a tournament inside. “Take a seat and shut up”, the captain of the team ordered. “You’ll spoil our concentration!” It completely spoiled mine. All I could do was duck! Fortunately, everyone on the team was wearing their sunscreen. That light Packerland put in there this year is BRIGHT! And the new toilet paper is so thin you can hold it up to the light and actually see Russia through it from here.
I guess we got what we deserved when we ordered the biggest unit Packerland had. Though to be fair, our crew is aging and “wheel chair accessible” becomes a bigger issue every year at this time. In fact, the delivery man from Packer, who majored in the same thing as I did in college, had to locate it in a “Handicapped Parking Zone”. But as Confucius used to say, “It takes a big porta- potty in which to think big thoughts” which is why, I suppose, it came fully equipped with a complete set of the Encyclopedia Britannica with a sign above them that says, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste”.
Still, every king or queen deserves a “throne”, no matter how small their kingdom, and so we consider ourselves indeed blessed. Besides, how many places can you walk into where you are guaranteed to feel better when you walk out. Not even the greatest of historic European Cathedrals or massage parlors can make that claim. Now that’s worth waiting in line for, I can tell you. But since I’ve been the only one in camp for the last couple or so months, no lines. It’s been all mine.
Every king deserves a throne.
Unfortunately, as with everything else in life, it’s not all fun and games. What goes up must come down and what goes in must come out. “Be VERY careful of that door!” the Packerland driver cautioned as he raced out the driveway as if fleeing an imminent explosion. “It’s a killer!” How right he was. The door is held shut by the same cannon spring that for years propelled the “Human Cannonball” over circus crowds. I needed the “Jaws of Life” just to get the darn thing open. Once inside, you know immediately what it’s like to be a fly caught in Donald Trump’s comb over. Then to exit, you have to scream “Geronimo” at the top of your lungs and lunge through to daylight before the door slams shut with such speed and ferocity that it creates a sonic boom that breaks windows in Arizona. “Harry! What was that explosion?” “Don’t worry Dear. That’s just Brooke finishing up his morning Constitutional in Wisconsin.”
So why, you ask, do we take such a risk first thing every morning? Well, that’s like asking the mouse caught in the trap why he went for the cheese. “Because it’s There” the mouse will tell you. Besides, anyone in the recovering endangered species business just naturally likes living on the edge… to say nothing of sitting on it. Like the sign on the door says, “No Life Guard On Duty. Swim at your own Risk.”
But to really understand and appreciate the true value of a thing, you must first take ownership of it… or at least something just like it. Once, in a former life, I actually owned my very own porta-potty. It was old and retired from years of faithful service at various construction sites around the Washington DC area. Now if you’ve ever visited Washington, you know that porta potties are often the most valued of monuments. Of course, the down side is that our politicians wind up spending so much time trying to flush them that they never get any real work done. But in America, it’s the constitutional right of every citizen to own a porta-potty as long as they can pass Homeland Security’s background check. “Have you ever been convicted of Double Parking in a Federal Building Men’s Room?”
Seventy-five bucks later, the rental company manager gave me one of his great big, insincere porta-potty smiles, followed by, “A few patches of fiberglass here and there and this baby will be ready for action. Takes a lickin, keeps on tickin”! as I pulled out of the rental yard and headed off to film an episode of “This Old Porta-potty.” I was smiling ear to ear. There is, after all, a great sense of pride that comes with ownership. However, that pride has a habit of lasting about as long as did the love affair I once had with my best friend’s older sister who was the goalie for the men’s hockey team and never wore a helmet, facemask or mouth guard …the one in the picture holding a hockey puck up to her face, with the caption that said, “Not very tasty, but man, what a chew!” Like they say, the best day in your life is when you buy your first porta-potty. The second best day in your life is the day you sell it.
But there is pride in borrowership too. Or at least that’s what we used to think. Before the day of my grand aforementioned purchase, our ultralight club used to “borrow” porta-potties from construction sites on the day of our Annual Ultralight Club Fly In. That was until the day one of them blew off our trailer during transport, requiring us to stop weekend traffic for half an hour while we loaded it back onboard. Fortunately for us, Billy, one of our club members, who had been comfortably seated inside of it for the first half of the trip to the airfield, ran out of stuff to read and joined us in the truck. “Houston – We have a problem!” Billy always wanted to become an astronaut and he thought riding down the highway in a porta-potty was a way to prove he indeed had the “Right Stuff.” And why not? It is a well-accepted fact in the flying community that former astronauts make the best ultralight pilots… but more importantly, that former ultralight pilots make the best astronauts. That is why, though our club had a policy of never naming our porta-potties, I named mine “Billy.” It’s like they say, “Be good to your porta-potty and your porta-potty will be good to you.”
So anyway, if any of you find yourself in vicinity of White River Marsh and want to take our porta-potty for a test flight, please feel free to stop by. As “The Donald” always says, “Me casa, su casa.” All you have to do is hum the Beatles song, “She’s Got a Ticket To Ride” and it’s all yours. Let me know you’re coming, though, and I’ll get rid of all the football players, the dart team, and the rip-off comic singer Washington politicians. I’ll tell Billy to “Blast Off” and I’ll even leave the light on for you. Until then, it’s like Dr. Strangeglove said in his historic speech to the United Nations all those years ago, “Bombs Away!”