Guy happily walking out of a stinky bathroom

The questionable potency of perfume to pacify a poopy smell…

I’ll be at a party when it inevitably happens. I need to make use of the facilities.

So off I go, sneaking looks down hallways and behind closed doors in search of the bathroom, hoping to keep the shameful act away from the other revelers.

If I’m lucky, I find it without having to reveal my purpose. Approaching the bathroom door, excited to get some relief without having to give myself away, I reach out-

-And it opens. Someone exits with a wall of fragrance behind them that almost makes me lose consciousness.

The world dims. What is happening? Why?

If you’ve been in this situation before, you know what it smells like. It’s as if someone tried every perfume used by elderly women before settling on one that barely contains the unholy stench wafting beneath it.

The person leaving usually smiles and nods. Apparently oblivious to the fact that the Chornobyl situation they’ve just unleashed has not been contained beneath the thin veneer of odor dispeller.

A man getting accused of stinking up a bathroom

“It wasn’t me!”

And, of course, my entire operation is completely blown. I look in horror out into the room as people scrunch their noses. “It’s not my fault!” I want to yell. But it’s too late.

This is the illusion that new toilet-odor-containing products like Poo-Pourri create. That you can conceal the chaos from your bowels with a simple spray. That you can put lipstick on that pig. It’s well-intentioned but usually pointless. 

So the last time this happened I entered that bathroom dejected and wondered, “Why do people feel the need to use this stuff?” It’s like they have some desire to throw roses into the bowl in remembrance of what they’ve just lost. Luckily, I was in the perfect place to find out. 

I got on my phone and did some research. Fragrance, as it turns out, is as old as civilization.

The ancient Sumerians worshiped it, inhaling resins burned as incense to get closer to their gods. So as early as 7000 BC, people wanted to cover up this veil of tears with some sweet scents (and maybe just get high).

Before people knew how to bathe, they knew how to make things smell…ok. That’s all that perfume was. A way to make it so you didn’t want to hold your breath and pass out whenever you were in public. It worked about as well as Poo-Pourri.

The stench in cities was apparently so bad throughout most of history that what passed for medical science believed most diseases were caused by “miasma,” or “bad air.” Yikes.

This was before there were even toilets, so people were just throwing their sh*t out into the street.

Literally. No wonder it was so bad. There were even masks that “doctors” of different eras wore, the progenitor of the gas mask.

You’d think that humans, being supposedly very clever creatures, would’ve connected the dots here and figured out that maybe they should keep their streets clean and run some water over their bodies once in a while. But no. They settled for perfume instead.

A doctor wearing a plague mask

“I’m not here to scare you, I just don’t want to smell you…”

And perfume became big business.

Remember that frankincense and myrrh stuff from Bible stories? Turns out it’s just perfume. So precious it’s worth offering up to God.

During the Middle Ages, in the Middle East, they learned to distill alcohol not to have a good time, but to make better perfume. The desert air offered no respite…

As time went on perfume became the hallmark of royalty, the methods of its creation hoarded by proto-chemists who, like alchemists, worked in dank secret laboratories cooking up weird stuff. All in the pursuit of not smelling like a foul butt. A variety of religions mimicked the technique of the Sumerians for the the same reason.

In the modern world, we think of perfume for our bodies as an add-on. Usually unnecessary, but kind of a fun subculture and a way to show you have money. No one in their right mind would roll out like a 15th-century king by not bathing for years and dousing themselves with the stuff.

No, this insanity has now moved to the humble toilet.

We don’t throw our crap out into the street anymore. Instead, we spray some perfume on it and hope the effort is enough.

In this pooper’s opinion, It’s not…

Some of these products may work. Let’s try to be honest about it though. You’re not hiding anything from anyone under an artificial scent.

Am I recommending you should wash the toilet every now and then?

Yes, of course.

I’m also just thinking and asking…

“What’s wrong with matches?”

A guy lighting a match in the bathroom

The fresh scent of sulfur

So the next time you’re throwing a party, do everyone a favor and leave some timber in the bathroom.

If you agree, disagree, or have Thoughts on the Throne, Poopable wants to hear from you. Comment on the post or send us a note!

By Brady Nelson

Brady has been using bathroom breaks to escape work since junior high. All that time spent on the throne eventually led to a substantial amount of philosophical thought. He dove deep into thoughts like, “how can I hide the amount of time I’m on YouTube while at work?” Alas, Brady found Poopable, a place that disregards his time spent on social media and celebrates his light-hearted cynical take on everyday topics. You can also read more of his writing at The Timeless Cynic on substack.