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May 08, 2006

Looking for Mr. Good Flush

Looking for Mr. Good Flush

by T. Lynn Ocean, author of SWEET HOME CAROLINA

I have a hang up about toilets.

I even have a recurring dream about a malfunctioning toilet.  The location ranges from a public restroom off I-95 to the Queen of England's powder room; but, in each case, the commode blows up or spits a stream of water with the force of a fully-charged fire hose.  Sometimes, it just overflows, carrying with it...well, you know.  Yucky stuff.

A friend told me to quit trying to analyze the meaning of the dreams.  After all, who wants to hear about a family of floating turds that escape over the rim of their porcelain prison as a toilet overflows yet again during my REM stage of sleep?

I think it may have all started when I was about six or seven.  I have a vague recollection of throwing a tantrum during a dinner party my mom was hosting for all the visiting big wigs from my dad's company.  I was upset because she served beef Wellington when I would have been perfectly happy with fried chicken.  Not only was my young palate craving chicken, but my sisters had convinced me that the stuff inside the beef pastry was made from the cow's brain and heart.  When dinner was served, the mere sight of the silver platter that (I imagined) held some poor cow's organs made me go ballistic.

Calmly, my mom excused herself from the table and hauled my teary-eyed red-faced convulsing self up the stairs to my room.  But not a person to let one of her children go hungry, she returned a few minutes later with a plate of food.  There was not a single piece of fried chicken on it.

To show my displeasure, I promptly shoveled every bit of it into the toilet, and I kept flushing and flushing until even the last floating pieces of pastry and errant string beans finally went down the vortex.  Then something odd happened.  The toilet belched and started throwing up.  I ran and hid in my bunk bed as Dad came bellowing up the stairs.  Apparently, water was leaking through the bathroom floor and had begun to drip steadily onto the basket of bread in the center of the dining room table.

I don't recall much after that, except my mom telling Dad he couldn't kill his youngest daughter while his boss was downstairs.  That, and the uncontrollable laughter of my sisters in near-hysterics.

I'm guessing that's when my issues with toilets began.  To this day, I'm leery of them, especially those I haven't met before.  I'm thinking about writing a book on the subject:  My World in Toilets.

In Japan, squatter toilets are common.  They're basically a hole in the ground.  You plant a foot on either side, grab the handholds, squat and go.  The first time I saw one, I wasn't sure whether to face forward or back my way in.  I tried to watch a local to see how she did it, but the old woman slammed the stall door on me.  (I never did find out which way you're supposed to squat; but, after much deliberation, I decided to face the wall.)

In Germany, high pressure flush toilets built into the wall are standard.  There's nothing but a bowl-shaped seat sticking out of the wall, above which is a push panel to flush the thing.  Now I'm no physicist, but it seems to me that, since there isn't anything directly beneath the bowl to support it, sitting on it might just rip it off the wall.  Were that to happen, water would most certainly shoot from somewhere and flood the room. 

I have to wonder about all the other toilets of the world, engineering marvels I've yet to experience.  Wouldn't it be fun to write a book about them?  I'd love to see more of Europe, Australia, and Africa, for starters.  See how cultures around the globe handle the subject.  Of course, I'd write off the travel expenses as research.  I might even bring my own toilet paper, as I've heard that some people, such as the French, don't use it.  At least that's what my sister said.

T. Lynn Ocean is a freelance writer and photographer.  Her newest novel, SWEET HOME CAROLINA, will be released on May 12 by St. Martin's Press, and takes a successful career woman who loves everything metropolitan, adds a small quirky town that doesn't have dry martinis or day spas, mixes in a murder, a treasure, and some spicy pirate history, and makes the perfect beach read for the summer!  Check out Tracy's web site for more scoop.


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I'm no dream expert, but it sounds to me like you've got too much crap in your life. Perhaps some kind of magical, metaphorical septic tank would be just the thing.

I'm glad I'm not the only one with toilet hangups! My grandparents(now deceased) in Greece had this dreadful outhouse. You had to pump water into a bucket from an outdoor handpump then pour it into the toilet to flush. The only catch was that if you poured too much too fast, the water(and all the uh..waste... would come flowing out of a oval hole in the base of the toilet( I believe this was some kind of cheapo air flow thing)

One time I was staying at their house. I was 13, and I had a stomach flu. You can figure the rest out. I still have nightmares about it.

Did you know that toilets above the ecuator flush clockwise and toilets below it flush counterclockwise? Did you know that in the winter going to outhouse was to cold so you used indoor buckets? Did you know that taking those buckets to the outhouse in the AM before the school bus arrives means you will surely spill some on your shoes? Take it from me YES is the right answer.Did you know that by sitting down on outhouse seat you stand a chance on being bitten on the butt by a black widow.YES right answer here, ask my brother. Ahhh the memories of outhouse decor`, the Sears and Roebuck catalog ,the bees buzzing,and the squishy sounds coming from below. I am sitting here weeping with the memories I left behide. Sniff Sniff Oh The happy days. NOT!LOLOL SusanCo

All I can add to this is that if you're squeamish about this issue, you shouldn't go to Morocco.

I think I'm gonna start traveling with a roll of soft toilet paper. So many hotels, restaurants and rest stops use that awful rough stuff. (Yeah, I know, you'd think they'd put the soft TP out for the truckers.) I wonder if a double-roll of Cottonelle with Aloe will fit in my suitcase for Daytona??? Hmmmm.

Susan- take the tube out of the center when you pack tp, saves a lot of space. (Learned that one from backpacking trips. Now, THAT's some pee-related trauma.)

I do know how to spell it !!!!!!!
If I am going to spell something wrong, its going to be in here ! Geezzz

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