The bus on which my friend started his 14-hour overnight journey encountered many problems on the way and that way, the journey took 18 hours instead of 14 hours. The journey was mostly through countryside. He had to withhold his bowels (did not defecate) till he was home.
Is the usage 'withhold bowels' correct? If not, what else is the idiomatic one?
Or 'he had to cross his legs until he got home'. (You can leave the bowels to the imagination of your readers.)
Or "He couldn't move his bowels until he got home."
A cultural, not grammatical comment: I've found that other cultures are FAR more likely to be detailed about these types of situations than most Americans (and I believe people in the UK or Canada or other places in the West).
I was shocked once (during my early forum days) to find someone asking "If I'm with a friend at a bar and I have to move my bowels, how do I tell him that I'm going to go do that instead of urinate?" That is simply something you would NEVER do where we live. You'd say "Hey, I'll be back in a bit. Order a new one for me if the waitress comes by, would you?" For the most part, we don't even say that we're using the toilet, much less what function we will perform there. (That said, we do have a lot of ways to say "urinate," many of which are at least a little humorous, but we are a lot more squeamish about the other.)
We would be more likely to say something like "Those extra hours made him very happy to reach the bathroom once he got home!" IF we felt the need to mention it at all.
Can this be used....?
He could not answer natures call until he got home.
Last edited by anupumh; 07-Oct-2009 at 22:09.
This is an example of Barb's cultural point; an everyday speaker just wouldn't feel comfortable spelling it out.
The question remains, how do you deal with this in the Standard English used by a culture that has no such reticence. I'm inclined to agree with Ann's suggestion: "He couldn't move his bowels until he got home."