Today I’d like to talk toilets. Seriously. You okay with that? Not feeling squeamish? Good. Also, please don’t expect any death, snot or philosophizing today. No grief or profundity looms in the paragraphs ahead. What does lie ahead: flushing. And by that I mean not the neighborhood in Queens, of which I am a fan (having been born in said borough and thus qualifying as a NATIVE NEW YORKER, please note caps), but the habit of sluicing human excrement down the tubes.
At issue today is not the usual, old-fangled, do-it-your-durned-self species of toilet, in which one surveys one’s product in the bowl for a moment of quiet and considered reflection before sending it off with a merry wave into the Realm of Unseen Sewage, but the new-fangled, automated, let-the-damned-stupid-machine-do-it variety, introduced some years back into heavily trafficked public restrooms.
A random woman I met in one such restroom once told me in stern tones that she worked in the industry (there’s an industry?) and attended a conference (there are conferences?) and could confirm that automatic toilets were, in fact, invented by men (there are men?). Which I sort of already knew. Because EVERY WOMAN IN CREATION already knew it, having based this knowledge on the maddeningly masculine malfunctioning of said toilets.
If you’re a woman, you don’t need me to explain this for you. If you’re a man, you do. Let’s put it in simple terms. The toilets are designed to conserve water, right? And improve hygiene, right? Minimize contact with germs, icky bits, grossness in general, all that stuff? Yes? No! They do no such things! This is what they do instead: Squander water! Maximize contact with germs! And why is that, you ask? Because WOMEN’S PLUMBING AND ARCHITECTURE DO NOT RESPOND WELL TO BEING RUSHED. In fact, THEY ARE INCAPABLE OF BEING RUSHED. In addition, they involve LOTS OF FANCY AND REPETITIVE MOVEMENT that might be misinterpreted, at least by the automatic toilet, as a session-ending flourish of some sort. And then? When the session is, in fact, finally over? The toilet refuses to flush until the woman leans over and presses the little germy button.
Do you need me to spell this out for you? I hope not. Even my tolerance for scatology isn’t that extreme. But let’s put it this way: Recently, while visiting an airport restroom, an automatic toilet of my acquaintance FLUSHED SIX TIMES before I was done. Seriously.
This was not the automatic toilet pictured above, which I encountered in Chicago and which was SO excessively automatic and prissily hell-bent on keeping my anatomy icky-bits-free that it actually boasted an auto-hygienic-magical-seat-wrapping system. Like, you just waved a hand in front of its All-Seeing Public Toilet Eye, and it lickety-split spread a pristine new sheet of plastic over the toilet seat for your fanny’s enjoyment. Seriously.
Look, when it comes to public toilets, my needs are not complicated. I would like to have access to a fair number of stalls — a goodly number, more than the number of equivalent facilities provided men, precisely because of those aforementioned, time-consuming FANCY AND REPETITIVE MOVEMENTS. (And because, you know, women have smaller bladders. I’m just saying.) Also, I would like to have access to toilets that are 1) cleaned on a regular basis; 2) equipped with toilet paper; and 3) accompanied by sinks that are similarly equipped with soap. These are my needs.
Otherwise, I don’t give a shit. Pun intended. Seriously.