Tag Archives: fun in toilets

Passport to Dis-ASS-ter

13 May

When anticipating a trip to a foreign country, most people worry about things like passports, language barriers and “did I forget anything?”  However, when I plan to visit a country for the first time, I worry about toilets.  And after many trips to different places around the world, I have good reason to be anxious.  If you’ve never left America, you probably don’t understand my fear of the toilet unknown, so I’ll explain how toilets came to be my number one concern when traveling.

A dance club in Songton, South Korea provided a unique toilet experience. To use the one private toilet in the place, women had to walk past the urinal trough that all the men pissed in. However, once you made it to the lone toilet room, you had to hover over the ancient toilet bowl with no seat – a toilet with a permanent crust on it that can only be described as outhouse nasty. Hovering was no easy feat when drunk and there was always a good chance you’d fall into the hole unless you had a girlfriend holding your hands. So any given night out, you’d find yourself and a couple of your best girlfriends crammed into a little stall laughing and holding onto one another while each one pissed. And if you couldn’t contain the belly laughs long enough to sustain your friend’s hover and you dropped her – party over.  It was a long walk back home. Also, you’d better find yourself another bathroom buddy because always in the back of your mind you were wondering if she wasn’t planning her own horrible toilet plunge revenge on you.

In Germany, no two toilets are alike, so every time you go to the bathroom, you play another game of “Find the flush button.” Some would have the button or lever on the top of the tank, on the side, in the wall, and sometimes even in the floor. One restaurant’s toilet had me so stumped after 15 minutes of looking for the flush button, I had to track down a waitress to show me where the thing was hiding. With some exasperation, she showed me that it was a step button on the floor that happened to blend in with the floor tile. I was so annoyed that I wished I’d had a stinking turd in the bowl waiting to offend her further.  A friend who just recently returned from a trip to Germany said he got these directions from a host: “FYI, the flush button is behind you to the left, about four feet off the floor, near the light switch. And it’s shaped like a poorly made pancake.”

And then you have the coin operated restrooms found in many European cities. I was visiting Ireland recently when the urge to relieve my bladder overtook me. I thought that the coin operated restrooms would be the way to go since everything is automated from the toilet paper, the faucet, the soap and the paper towels dispenser and the enclosure is automatically washed and rinsed after each use…or is supposed to be. I put my coins into the slot and the door opened. I rushed in without looking around and after the automatic door shut behind me, I was horrified to find that the automatic washing was not washing anymore and hadn’t been for some time.  There was vomit, shit and pee all over the tiny room. The few seconds it took for the door to open and let me out felt like an eternity. Thankfully the room next to the filthy one was clean and ready to go, so I quickly used it and went on my way. Needless-to-say, I made sure I used restrooms in restaurants and hotels and stayed away from the glorified port-a-potties for the rest of the trip.

Sometimes there isn’t a toilet at all; sometimes it’s a hole in the ground. One trip abroad was to a little village on the edge of the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador. Our hotel had its own water supply and running water, so I naively assumed that other businesses in town would have running water too. Imagine my horror when I had to use the restroom for the first time at a restaurant in town and the waitress proceeded to escort me to a hole in the ground in a courtyard behind the building.  Most would’ve thanked her and waited to go once they got back to their hotel.  But me? I had the first rumblings of Montezuma’s Revenge building up so there was no waiting. It was going to be the hole in the ground or my shorts, so I chose the hole in the ground. It was terribly embarrassing as the little kids who lived around the courtyard laughed at every grunt and fart. After wiping with the few squares of toilet paper provided and no way to wash my hands, I couldn’t get back to our hotel fast enough. Thankfully I never had to the use the hole again the rest of the trip.

Before I’d ever ventured past the borders of the US, I never thought I’d one day give thanks for my easy-to-use, clean, private toilet, but I do say a prayer of thanks for my toilet, after every single trip.

New Year. Same Old Shit.

8 Jan

What is it that compels most of us to ring in the New Year in ways that often render us useless for the first twenty-four to forty-eight hours of said New Year?  January 1 should officially be renamed National Hangover Day.  Invariably, after the dry heaves and the beer-shits subside, the revelry and debauchery of December 31 get recycled into tall tales innumerably recounted among friends in the ongoing human conversation that begins, “One time I drank so much that….”

This year my contribution to the conversation is, “last New Year’s I drank so much that I took a dump in nearly every bar downtown Columbia has to offer.”   For reasons I will not bore you with, I can only drink tequila.  This phenomenon has two side effects: as tequila is the only upper behind the bar, I have trouble falling asleep even after a night of the heaviest drinking, and it makes me poop a lot.  Not the runs.  Just copious and frequent trips to the water closet. 

Taking innumerable dumps is not a pleasant experience when every bathroom at your disposal is the cramped space of your average bar toilet.  The floors grow stickier by the hour and no matter how drunk I get, the alcohol never shuts down my OCD tendencies that make me wonder about the source of the stickiness.  Is it spilled drinks or drying urine? Most likely urine. My hypothesis for the sticky floor phenomenon keeps me from shaking or touching the hand of anyone I see touching the bottom of his or her shoe.  This prejudice even extends to my husband, who, on New Year’s Eve, touched the bottom of his shoe as he sat cross-legged on a bar stool.  When he proceeded to lean over to hug me, I shrugged him off and bored my eyes into him with a disgust usually reserved for perverts and misogynists. 

The night wore on and the drinks ran freely.  We posed for pictures with strangers and strolled the streets between bars in a happy haze punctuated by hilarity, spontaneous singing, a thwarted mass mooning of oncoming traffic and a pit stop to watch a fireworks display that made us “ooh” and “awwh” like children.  My husband and I were having a spectacular time with friends, a raucous time that was only marred by my trips to the loo.  One bathroom stall sported a black toilet.  This discovery grossed me out completely.  What were they hiding? 

The more tequila I imbibed, the more difficult the balancing act became. If you are a public restroom pee helicopter, then you can commiserate.  I hover when I pee in public.  I can’t sit on the seat unless I put down many (and I mean many) layers of toilet paper to protect my ass from whatever Ebola may lie waiting in ambush on the seemingly innocuous seat.  I reserve my paper-seat-making for taking a dump under sober conditions.  I just can’t risk a slip and fall in such disease-prone areas.  And yes, I know just how neurotic this sounds, and I’ve come to terms with that.  So I took a lot of hover shits that evening.  They weren’t all successful, and I probably would have been better off attempting to make a giant paper seat, but hindsight is always 20/20 isn’t it? 

Our last stop was the local gay bar.  It always has the best music, the best atmosphere, the most interesting people watching, and hands down- the worst women’s bathroom ever!  The sink looks like it was made for a doll and there’s rarely any soap.  The graffiti on the walls is entertaining, but the crust of magic marker hides a potentially malignant crust of germs and God knows what else.  The quarters of the two meager stalls and the “waiting area” to enter the stalls are so cramped, only a heterosexual man could have designed them.  I was staggering a little when I entered the bathroom, sweaty from dancing and desperate to unload my bowels.  Thankfully, the bathroom was empty, as the noise I was about to make would be audible even above the pounding techno that emanated from the adjacent dance floor.  I didn’t trust my gait enough for a hover without relying on the crusty walls for support.  There was not enough toilet paper to make an adequate seat and wipe my ass.  I was going to have to choose the lesser of two evils, but I couldn’t decide which was truly the lesser.  Finally I decided to hover, touching the crusty walls for back-up support.

I silently reprimanded myself for having that fourth Patron on the rocks and promised that next New Year’s Eve I would only have two or three. Then I laughed out loud when I remembered that I had had this exact conversation with myself on the eve of 2010 when I hovered in the exact same position.  I had managed to eek out my crap while holding onto the walls of this same stall last year and had lived to tell the tale and laugh at myself.  There’s something to be said for carrying enough hand sanitizer on your person to fill a small thermos.


On the Road Again

10 Dec

For a lot of us the holidays mean traveling.  My husband’s family still lives on Long Island and we live in South Carolina.  We make the trek a few times a year, and we usually drive it.  A toddler, a dog and my small bladder usually make for many stops along the way.  The trip always takes us between fourteen and fifteen hours.  It doesn’t matter what time we leave our house, somewhere along the way there will be traffic.  There was one time, however, when we made it in ten and a half hours.  This is the trip against which my husband gauges the success of all other trips.  But it’s a bogus yardstick.  First of all, it was before the kid and the dog.  A pit stop in those days was actually a pit stop.  We fueled up, peed, grabbed a drink and a snack from the racks of the gas station and were back on the road again in three minutes flat.  Secondly, that ten and half hour miracle was performed on National Hangover Day.  We had spent New Year’s Eve with friends in New York and then hopped on the road at ten the next morning.  The roads were dead.  It was eerie. We rolled into our driveway at eight-thirty that night. It was a once in a lifetime feat. 
Now that we travel with a three-year-old and the dog we have to unload the tribe every time we stop.  It’s not that incredible of an undertaking, but it’s definitely more of a time suck than our former three minute pit stops.  My husband, Brendon, understands this on some level, but once we get into the car he develops logistical amnesia.  Every time my daughter or I ask to stop to pee we are greeted by the exaggerated and exasperated sighs of Brendon the Toilet Nazi.  His sympathy for my tiny bladder is limited, as he is what I refer to as a Piss Camel.  He can drink a gallon of Gatorade and drive comfortably for five hours.  I cut off my liquid intake at 6 pm the night before a trip.  That morning I will allow myself a tablespoon of water to wash down breakfast and will only suck on throat lozenges until we are at least six hours into the trip.  I wish I were making this up. 
Our three-year-old, Phoebe, has inherited the Piss Camel gene.  For this I am thankful.  But she is what I refer to as a Turd Terrorist.  You never know when one of her crap attacks will strike.  When she is at home on her regular routine she poops at pretty regular intervals.  On the road?  Well….let’s just say it’s a crap shoot.  The only predictable aspect of a Phoebe crap attack is that it will most likely occur when it is most inconvenient, when you’re stuck in traffic, or when the only place to go is a farmhouse only barely visible from the interstate. 
This year on our way up to New York for Thanksgiving, we were delayed for forty-five minutes on I-81 in Virginia for “dynamiting.”  Yes.  Dynamiting.  There was no detour.  Just a dead stop.  Some asshole had made the decision to dynamite the side of a mountain beside an interstate on one of the most busy travel days of the year.  We stopped the engine and got out of our car to join the other travelers in conversation on the side of the road while Phoebe took advantage of an opportunity to actually play in traffic and pet other dogs.  Just when it looked like we were going to get moving again, Phoebe announced to everyone within earshot that she had to poop.  Now. 
A friendly trucker retrieved a crusty towel from his vehicle for Brendon to use as a privacy shield while Phoebe joined the ranks of her newly made canine friends who were also crapping in the grass along the road’s shoulder.  Just as she was squeezing out the last bit of chocolate soft serve, the construction vehicle just ten car lengths ahead started its engine and gave everyone the go ahead to return to their vehicles.  We had just enough time to wipe her rear, toss the nasty towel back to the trucker and strap Phoebe into her car seat before people started to honk. 
On the return trip Phoebe was kind enough to reserve her crap attack for a clean and accessible rest area.  She must have been saving up all the mashed potatoes she had consumed on Thanksgiving for this one massive dump.  It lay in ambush in that shallow part of the bowl hidden from view as I reached back to wipe her tushy.  The poop was piled so high that my unsuspecting hand actually became lodged in the stuff. When I retracted my hand it looked as if I had just dipped it in thick brownie batter.  Phoebe took advantage of the acoustics in the restroom to inform everyone of the disaster.
“Ewwwh!  Mommy!  My poop is all over your hand!”  Then she laughed maniacally. 
After using toilet paper to sweep the poop from under my nails and scrape it from my palm and Phoebe’s tushy, we exited the stall and doused ourselves with soap. 
“Mommy you’re using a LOT of soap.”
“Sometimes Phoebe, you just can’t use enough.”
We returned to the vehicle where Brendon offered me a bag of chips.  I checked my nails one more time, just to be sure.  Then I reached into the bag and silently thanked whoever invented soap.  And we were on the road again.



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