In the days of outhouses, often there were outhouses with multiple "holes" so that more than one person could relieve him(her)self at a time. Before the time of toilet paper, catalogs and corn cobs, a stick shaped like a shoe horn was used for "hygienic cleaning." It was rather a short spatula device with a longer handle. Well, if one person was done, he could request that the person using the adjoining hole pass the stick. Of course the person with the stick would pass it holding onto the other person by holding the long end of the stick. The recipient would therefore receive it holding the "short end of the stick."