I Served as Groom of the Stool for a Day. This Is What It’s Like to Wipe The King’s Ass
‘Tis nothing less than magnificent
Most people don’t believe me when I tell them I once wiped The King’s Ass. A fortnight heretofore, I wouldn’t have believed me either, for such a felicitous opportunity comes about nigh on once in a lyfetyme.
But when the normal Groom of the Stool (formally titled “Groom of His Majesty’s Gilded Commode and Sweeper of The Cheeks”) proved up to his elbows in slog following a feast in which many rare meats and much ale was consumed, Fortune saw fit to bless this humble Buttwipesman with the honour of serving as Groom for a day.
Let me start by saying I’m no novice to the art of buttwiping. I’ve served as a journeyman Buttwipesman in the Royal Court for many a year, and I am a fourth generation member of the Buttwipers’ Guild. In my day-to-day duties about the Castle, I mainly wipe for mid-level nobility whose personal Wipesmen are out of the office for one reason or another.
But in all my years wiping noble rears, ne’er hath I chanced to swab the Royal Poopdeck. And I do heartily say unto thee: ‘twas an experience for the ages!
I was called upon in my chambers in the wee hours of the morn by my Ballsman, Piddlethwick.
“Come forth!” he spake, arousing me from my slumber. “The King is passing last night’s dessert and is in urgent need of clean hands to polish from His Nates to His Saddle Crootch.”
Thusly sprang I from my bed. I hastily garbed myself in mine official Buttwipers’ Guild uniform. I barely had tyme to soften mine hands with oils and liniments before I made a mad dash to the Commode. Luckily, I arrived just as His Majesty let forth the day’s first burst.
“Hark! Thou hast arrived, my boy! And just in tyme, for I hath presently banished the Devil himself from my body and fear ‘tis a messy one,” spake The King. “Art thou fit to the task?”
“Your Majesty, there never was a task to which I was more fit:
‘For though I be young, yet these hands hath seen many a hole.’”
“Ah, thou hast read Ælfgrondel?” spake The King. He spake, of course, of Mæster Buttwipesman Ælfgrondel, Groom of the Stool for two decades, now retired. He knew The King from waistline to knee better than any man, and wrote many treatises on the subject.
“I am a devoted student of his, My Lord,” spake I. “I hath studied his techniques my whole lyfe. Thine loins are in goode hands.”
Thus, onwards I went unto to The King’s Bottom.
Those unacquainted with the craft would think all jobs were the same. Well, that couldn’t be more afar from the truth.
No two butts are the same, and every stool is unique. There are certainly trends and similarities: peasants tend to have bony cheeks and watery stools, knights leave a big one after battle. But spend as much tyme in this business as I have, and the differences are pronounced.
When His Majesty finished and I moved in for a reconnaissance, I knew instantly that this would be the greatest ass I’d ever wipe. Plump but firm, fine silken hairs that smelt of clove and wild boar, and a fæculence with a consistency profound. It was the kind of rump that drew me to this profession as a young man.
As any professional would, I set to my task with pluck and aplomb. Smooth, neat, no excess finger action, a light counterclockwise twist and just the right amount of lily-scented powder at the end — a family recipe.
And, lo! mine hands proved true! Whilst The King and I spoke no further — one must earn His trust over many years in order to bend His ear so — the way he puckered as I finished Him off told me I had done the job well.
I’ve thought wistfully of that job every day since, and I am certain I shall think of it every day hence.
That ass keeps me going. ‘Tis something to strive towards. Perfection.
The daily lyfe of a Wipesman is akin to that of many of the great professions: long hours of idleness, punctuated by short bursts of heroism. Whilst ‘tis the heroic deeds of which the bards sing, it hath always been my belief that it is the idle hours that maketh the great Buttwipesman.
The untrained mind might think the job a simple one, but it is complex. There is much to do in the hours betwixt bowel movements, and it is during these tymes that we prove our mettle. One must clean not only the stool, but one’s hands, one’s tools, the backup stool, etc. Communication is key, especially for repeat customers. A trained Wipesman will study his subjects’ likes and dislikes, their family histories, their deepest wants and desires. He will use his knowledge to tailor each conversation uniquely to each. If he hath done the job well, he can shape the course of history. ‘Tis said that behind every great man is a great Buttwipesman, literally and figuratively.
I spent my tyme after that morning call becoming acquainted with the Royal Gadgetry. I gave the Stool its most thorough cleaning in ages. I even found a stain on the bottom edge of the seat, in that spot where it always gets sullied but no one ever thinks to check it, let alone clean it. I promptly remedied the issue. Not that His Majesty will notice, let alone reward me if He does. But ‘tis the little things like that that give a Buttwipesman pride in his job.
I never did wipe The King’s Ass again that day. There was one emergency call in the late afternoon that I hastened to. But it was a false alarm. Just a burst of violent flatulence that surprisingly left no marks.
Nevertheless, that day shall live on in my mind as the greatest of my career.
The King hasn’t spoken to me since. Although I did get a promotion, so I get the feeling that someone put in a goode word. And whilst I have not chanced to scrub the Royal Stern from port to starboard since that day, every tyme someone finishes Him off with lily-scented powder and a light counterclockwise twist, I like to imagine He thinks of me.
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Buttwipers' Guild Facing Kingdom-Wide Shortage of Clean Hands
Groom of the Stool, a prestigious position (from Atlas Obscura). From the 1452 Boke of Nurture:
“See the privy-house for easement be fair, sweet, and clean;
And that the boards thereupon be covered with cloth fair in green;
And the hole himself, look there no board be seen;
Thereon a fair cushion, the ordure no man to vex.
Look there be blanket, cotton, or linen to wipe the nether end,
And ever he calls, wait ready and prompt,
Basin and ewer, and on your shoulder a towel.”