This was a frequently-bellowed order in my dad’s Brooklyn accept (an accent which, as the first-born, I acquired to some extent). Six kids, two parents, and my grandfather for a few years must have been a significant strain on a well during some of the summer droughts. Of course, it wasn’t until I owned my own house and knew how much it would cost to drill a new well that I began to worry about wells going dry.

Wait, I take that back to some extent. As teenagers, we did care what would happen if the well went dry while my parents were on vacation and we didn’t want to get caught using this house for parties in their absence. Since Party City didn’t carry the following sign, my sister would make one for each bathroom during any summer drought open houses:

If it’s yellow, let it mellow.

If it’s brown, flush it down.

She didn’t make it up. Is it Keats?

This house went to city water years ago, but it is my first experience without a well. Today, due to a broken water line, our county is under water restrictions. Water supply issues scare me. What if we run out with all these people using water? Online, the county’s conservation measures include the poem euphemistically translated as “flushing toilets less frequently.”

This sounds too delicately put for the situation. Maybe if you powder your nose on three different occasions, you will throw the tissues that you used dabbing off the extra foundation into the toilet instead of into the garbage, but will only flush once. You’re not helping. You should have used the garbage. Toilets are for natural waste. You are acting way too uppity for an emergency. You are not with us in this “all in this together.”

People like you need the poem. On a big billboard during the summer.

Or maybe we need it enforced—door to door—for the likes of you. If you’re caught, you lose all your flushing privileges, regardless of the color in your toilet.

And that’s a threat.

Easy on Da Wauda!

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