It just occurred to me, thinking about 1998, and how that was now 20 years ago, that the longest I ever went without pooping was 20 years ago this August.
When I was a kid I went to summer camp in the Adirondacks. It was an outdoorsy camp. Beyond the first year I went there, I was really not very outdoorsy and I did everything I could to stay inside, socialize, do artsy things. The camp was mostly ages 10-15, and when you were 15, you got to do all kinds of things the young kids didn't. It was like a send off tour out of your childhood. Give out sweets to other kids, go off site more often, more time for co-ed socializing. The place was very hierarchical - the 10 year olds looked up to the 15 year olds and the 15 year olds looked out for the 10 year olds. The 15 year olds when you were young were like rock stars. Most summer camps have some kind of weird anthropologically dumb made up rituals and hierarchies, this was no different.
One of the special 15 y/o's only thing was a canoe trip to a remote lake region in Quebec, about an 8 hour drive north of the camp. The trip was two counselors (we think they were hooking up) and like 13 of us and it lasted 7 or 8 days. It was sort of a social culmination - most of the 15 y/o's left camp to go do this trip together, and while I felt fine about canoeing, there was a definite FOMO aspect of missing that week with these people you'd grown up with. I went, I was excited.
Having avoided all the outdoorsy stuff the past four years, I hadn't gotten acclimated to one special part of camping: shitting in the woods. I had used outhouses before, but never had I done a squat over a self-dug hole kind of thing. I was real nervous. Heading into the park where the lakes were, I availed myself of the final toilet we saw. I didn't know how this was gonna go.
The trip was more memorable for me in other grooming ways - I wore contacts at the time and when I was putting them in the second or third morning, the contact blew out of my hand (what I get for doing it outside of the tent). I had glasses with me but I felt like I looked like a total fool in glasses (it was an age of being very insecure about how I looked, I lost a lot of weight that summer). Also, it was high summer, and for some reason, my lips got more chapped than they ever have before. No idea what the catalyst was for this, my lips just got raw and rough and you could see it in photos.
But day by day, the not shitting became a thing. I don't remember a lot of conscious holding it in. Or, early on, I remember a little effort, but a few days in, it wasn't hard to hold it anymore. The first few days, I thought about going off and finding a quiet spot if I got a moment. I tried to size up how and where and when other people were going off and moving their bowels to get some insight. But I didn't talk about it, and it worked okay to just shove it down. I held it, and then held it some more. The right time never came.
But by the end, it was getting pretty intense. There's the feeling you get when you are returning home and having to shit where the feeling builds and builds and you're like 20 ft from the toilet and it's so intense, you don't think you'll make it. This was like that x1000 when we finally got the canoes out of the water and were back near that same first bathroom I'd used on the way in. It was lunch time and everyone was sad to pack up, it was moving slowly. I was trying to be a social person and each lunch and not rush everyone on, but it was driving me crazy.
Eventually we got in the van, rolled towards the toilet, and I politely asked if I could use the bathroom, I think I was the only one. I was in that bathroom for a while. I don't remember anything about the break-fast shit other than it took a while and I returned rather sheepishly to the van. I also remember that I had a lot of little shits for a while after that, I mean of course you're not gonna uncork everything all at once.
The next year I did more camping with a lot of the same people and I made peace with shitting in the wild. It's pretty pleasant. I don't think I've done it since I was 19, but I'd go back and do it now just for funsies. 15 was a tough age to confront the idea, so it spelled the longest dry streak for me in my shitting career. Now I try to get my licks in every day.