Where’s the Poop?

“When I was a kid, I had a dog named Bean,” Lily tells her friend Robin after the latter has just explained how she’s finally over her ex-boyfriend, Don. “Whenever he made the face that you’re making right now, you just knew: He pooped somewhere in the house. Where’s the poop, Robin?”

At first, Robin pretends not to know what Lily is talking about. A few “Where’s the poop?”s later, however, she finally admits: She called her ex in a drunk stupor and left a nasty message on his voicemail. In what’s becoming my favorite How I Met Your Mother episode long after the show has ended — for it holds so many lessons — time and again, Robin will pretend everything is fine between her and Don — and time and again, Lily will call her out on her bullshit. “Where’s the poop, Robin?”

In my quest to root out the poop in my life, I find it a helpful question. When someone presents a deal that looks too good to be true, I can ask myself: “Where’s the poop?” When a project is not going as planned, I can sniff around: Was it some external barrier I failed to see? Have I made a mistake? Or did I just not work as hard on it as I thought I did? And when someone’s way of doing things seems like the perfect solution to all my problems, I can wonder what downsides they might incur because of it. After all, little in life is as it seems, and even roses need fertilizer in order to grow. Poop, in other words.

When you go through Lily Aldrin’s bull-detection school, most of the time, your poop-seeking questions will point outward. This is natural and required. We’re all bombarded with more crap than we could ever produce on our own, and it’s the world’s stinky stuff we’d like to filter out. However, every so often, probably at least once a day, you’ll have to turn the excrement-extricating question on yourself: “Where’s the poop, Nik?” For one, even after you identify them, in the end, it’s on you to not step into the turds other people leave behind. And for another, in the long run, it’s our own bullshit that hurts us the most.

If you’re lucky, you have a good friend like Lily, who will occasionally remind you to clean up after yourself when you drop something unsavory into your life. But no friend is perfect, and so even without outside help, we’ll have to learn to take care of our own messes. “Where’s the poop?”

Thankfully, smelly as it may be, at the end of the day, poop is just poop. Like our loyal canine friends, we all make doo-doo from time to time, and though it might take more than a plastic bag — forgetting your ex’s phone number, perhaps — with the right attitude and a little courage, our carpets will be crap-free again soon. Who knows? Maybe one day, when our best friend asks us, there’ll truly be no poop to report. After all, a dog can dream — and humans can fix their mistakes.