Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste


Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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Process of Elimination

August 25, 2014
Everything associated with babies is usually considered cute and adorable, including the elimination of body waste. Call it what you will: potty, or doody, boom boom or poopy, but at some point in life the cozy euphemisms no longer apply. When is that all-important moment when snuggly slang metastasizes into a clinical word like stool?


As most of you know, Mrs. Chatterbox works for the local police department and several of her co-workers are having babies. Conversations are circulating about potty training rituals and cloth diapers versus disposable. Mrs. C. relates these discussions because I work at home and socialize so little I’ll listen to just about anything.


Mrs. C. had just been expounding on how long it’s been since we toilet trained our son and were required to deal with these issues when a commercial popped up on TV about stool softeners and laxatives—during the dinner hour, of course. Not once did the announcer use the word poopy or potty or boom boom. This got me wondering: When does poo or boom boom metamorphosize into stool? I’ve yet to see someone gaze down at an adorable baby and say, “This little cutie has a diaper full of stool,” nor do they acknowledge that a forty-three year old has just left the room to do a doody. Does the transition for gentrifying human waste come at forty-three, or fifty, or sixty? People like me with too much spare time on their hands want to know. Heck, we can’t all be Stephen Hawking trying to unravel the mysteries of black holes in space. Maybe black hole was a poor word choice.


I’ve noticed that teenagers like to put as terse or gruff a spin on the topic as possible, saying things like, “I gotta take a shit or a dump,” although where they’re taking it is anyone’s guess. Married guys, trying to be clever while clinging to an ever-fading notion of “coolness,” leave the golf course saying, “I have to drop the kids off at the pool.”


I’ve done a scientific study (gathered together some liquor-induced assumptions) and concluded it’s old people, and their doctors, who refer to waste as stool. I guess it’s considered unprofessional to tell the elderly to package a doody sample and deliver it to the clinic; instead, a word ripe with gravitas, such as stool, is used. Maybe ripe was another poor word choice. And speaking of stool, why do old people insist on inserting it into every conversation?


My mother is eighty-nine. Without mentioning it directly, she frequently manages to discuss her stool, even though she’s never in her life gone to the bathroom. When I call she says something like, “I can’t talk right now because I’m indisposed.”


“Then why did you answer the phone? And what’s indisposed supposed to mean? Has solving the problems in the Middle East given you a headache?”


“Don’t be funny. You know what it means. I’m in the restroom.”


“Are you resting?”


“No, I’m having an issue with my stool.”


The gentrification of human waste evidently takes place sometime before the age of eighty-nine. 









I've always wondered why it's called "stool." First, I wouldn't ever want to sit on one. Second, if I did, it would never hold me up to eat at the dinner table. Third, and why am I bringing a stool to where people eat, anyway?
By: Al Penwasser on August 25, 2014
A very insightful post....................
By: John on August 25, 2014
Fun post, I'd comment, but I gotta visit the throne.
By: Cranky on August 25, 2014
Word origins is typically where current words and terms originate. Your mother and my mother and I imagine countless others of certain generations are more in tune with an air of victorian politeness. The plural of feces in Latin turns out to be Stool.
By: Daniel LaFrance on August 25, 2014
I was once told that I think too much, but I have never given the subject at hand much thought. So, does this mean that I really don't think too much? 'Tis something to ponder, methinks.
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on August 25, 2014
This post is a steaming pile of poo. But it is entertaining. :)
By: Michael Offutt on August 25, 2014
I have got to remember NOT to be drinking coffee while reading your blog....this is hilarious! As are the comments....and then I looked up this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latin_profanity good grief. More fodder for your blog....perhaps I should not have used the word fodder.
By: Kathe W. on August 25, 2014
bowel movement or bm. :)
By: TexWisGirl on August 25, 2014
Well, i don't know about anyone else, but the only reason i leave the table is to take a phone call or powder my nose! Funny post, Stephen, thanks for the laugh.
By: mimi on August 25, 2014
Gee, I come back from visiting the sand box for this?? You are funny. Odd, poop appears in my post today also.
By: Akansas Patti on August 25, 2014
I know of one CEO who hated using curse words and often said, "Oh, poop!"
By: Michael Manning on August 25, 2014
You made me chuckle with this one! Thanks.
By: Eva Gallant on August 25, 2014
"Provide a stool or get off the pot" just doesn't have the same ring to it.
By: Val on August 25, 2014
"I have to drop the kids off at the pool."
By: Pixel Peeper on August 25, 2014
I meant to say, "I have to drop the kids off at the pool" made me laugh out loud.
By: Pixel Peeper on August 25, 2014
The last cartoon is a winner. I get it because my hearing is something like that. I make many errors in assumptions as I miss part of the conversation.
By: red on August 25, 2014
Sorry I am a bit late for this I was spending a penny...
By: Little Wandering Wren on August 25, 2014
The cartoon is priceless... well, so's this blog post. I grew up in a house where the toilet/bathroom was referred to as the office. Now my mother, 87, tells me every little detail. I STILL don't want to talk about it. When I have to "go," I simply say "excuse me" and I leave the room.
By: Mitchell is Moving on August 26, 2014
A thought-provoking treatise on age-related modifiers of the vocabulary of feces. Now that could be a great PhD project!
By: Bryan Jones on August 26, 2014
I had a colonoscopy yesterday. 'Nuff said. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on August 26, 2014
I will tell my wife "I gotta pee" but that's as far as I'll go.
By: Catalyst on August 26, 2014
I vaguely recall the expression "I've got to see a man about a horse."
By: Hilary on August 29, 2014
I love the post title, by the way. ;)
By: Hilary on August 29, 2014

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