By Linda C Butler
Told by Steve Vance
When I was a wee lad, my Grandmother, Mary Vance, would take me with her when she went to the biffy, whether I needed to go or not. She would lift me up to the little seat, then sit herself down on the big one. There we sat, side by side, with Grandma telling stories. I got along well with her and learned all my childhood stories sitting in the biffy.
She told me what her life had been like when she grew up on the farm in Ontario. As a little girl, she played in the fields, but was never allowed to run in the woods. She warned me that strange creatures lurked in the forest around Spy Hill as well, and I was not to wander off.
Grandma had once been a little kid like me and could skip and jump, but one day, when playing on a roof tower, she slipped and fell, twisting her foot underneath her. Her ankle was broken, and it was never properly set, so she never walked unaided again. She warned me to be careful or the same fate could happen to me. She told me this story after I climbed onto the stable roof and jumped off. I sprained my ankle and Grandma had to help me to the biffy; her on her crutches while I limped along, holding onto one of the crutches.
As we sat in the biffy, Grandma told me about the old old lady and the lame little boy. The old old lady could not walk and neither could the lame little boy. They played guessing games together; each one guessing what the other one was thinking. Sometimes they even played hide and seek by thinking of places to hide. They played in a beautiful way – the old old lady and the lame little boy who was half past three.
I was holding a snake one day when Grandma called me to the biffy and I stuffed it into my pocket so she wouldn’t notice it. Once we got inside, I dropped it onto the floor where it squirmed around until it found Grandma’s shoes. She felt something touch her feet and looked down. When she saw the snake she let out an ear-piercing yell. Since my feet were a foot off the floor, the snake could not reach me.
Grandma’s sixth sense told her that I was to blame. She had no appreciation for snakes in the outhouse and she was so angry that she ripped two pages from the Eaton’s catalogue instead of the usual one.
Eventually the house overflowed with kids and Grandma moved out. Since she could no longer take me to the outhouse, the biffy stories ended, but I was growing up, and could make my own way to the outhouse after that.
© Linda C Butler 2013