Monday, January 3, 2011

Dumb and Dumber

(For my buddy Jeff and Drew--who have spent time waiting for the porti john at WVU Games with me)

           I spent the week in Beijing which was something I could never imagine doing. I saw all of the Olympic venues, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and a good bit of all 6 rings of Beijing. It was clear enough the first day you could see the Great Wall, but the last day the pollution was so bad you could hardly see three blocks. However, I feel compelled not to blog about the city as much as something else that I believe only a man with a 13 year old mentally could appreciate, which includes most of my friends and myself.
             My wife and I have this conversation quite frequently about what is humor to men and what is humor to women.  I remember sitting at a dinner in Columbus, listening to our friends Jeff and Becky tell about their first date. Jeff took her to see Dumb and Dumber. Within minutes all the men at the table were rolling on the floor in uncontrollable laughter remembering the bathroom scene in that movie, while the women were I think amused at their little boys laughing. Sometimes we never grow up.
            So that being said, I feel it necessary to discuss what we have experienced in the range of restrooms in the first four months. We have seen a wide range with some that we have still not figured out how to use.  Apparently some of the Asian culture does not see it as being sanitary to sit on a commode that others have been using, so there is no seat or commode.  I must also tell you that overall the Asian culture has some unbelievable great sanitation from masks, washing of hands, cleaning the streets and sanitizer everywhere. I told my wife that more men wash their hands in the Asian restrooms that in the states.  All which is a good thing. A new survey in the US based on restroom observations found that 93 percent of women wash their hands in public restrooms, while only 69 percent of men do. And that's an improvement over 2007, when only 66 percent of men did.

        So I will start with the best that I have seen. I was in Beijing and my hotel room had the most modern toilet I have ever experienced.  It had a sensor on it that raised the lid when I entered the room. There was a full functioning remote control on the wall that guided you thru whatever you needed. Of course the heated seat was great.  I only used the buttons for raising and flushing but it had the ability to target specific areas with different levels, and a dryer after those were used. Below are a couple of pictures. I was so impressed that I spent a good bit of time discussing, reviewing and admiring the whole process.

Seat automatically rises as you enter, then you have a remote control. What a life!

The opposite side of this is the commode that in my mind is nothing more than a hole in the ground. Even the pictures do not do it justice. Just the balancing that is needed is beyond my comprehension.  So in men’s public restrooms, they have urinal troughs.  Basically a maintained ditch that runs the length of the restroom. Most men have used worst and it would not in the least bother anyone. Anyone who has attended a sporting event has at one time or another used a group urinal. However, it is not the urinal which I need to explain,  it is the commode that is very complex. I have included two pictures which is nothing more than a commode at the floor level. They are called the “Squat Toilet”  Granted they are not everywhere, but in a lot of public restrooms and older buildings. I believe these are going away with the new buildings being put up. Most of the apartments we have looked at all have the more modern version of the commode.  However, this hole in the ground requires a balancing act that I could not pull off. My wife wants to ask someone to show her how to properly use.  Below are the instructions which are most graphic but complete.

I cannot even bend over to pick something up off the ground How do I use this?
 Rule One: Exhaust all other possibilities.
If you are truly in need and condemned to use the squat toilet, comfort yourself with the knowledge that you are several thousand miles from friends and family. No one has to know.
Proceed as follows:
Most stalls do not have toilet paper. This is the best time to realize this. Either take paper from the general dispenser in the bathroom area or preferably bring your own as it will be made of tissue and not rough sandpaper.
Approach the squat toilet apprehensively and make sure it's not covered in anything. If it is covered, choose another stall. If another stall is not available, accept the cards that have been dealt you. This is a good time to come up with a title for your experience such as My One and Only Time or the Child’s book “Willy Makeit”
Close the door to the stall, knowing full well the handle has more germs on it than the entire Stanton Island trash dump.
Place your feet on the appropriate foot grids, assuming they are not covered. If they are covered, place your feet on the least fouled space you can find, being careful to maintain balance.
Unfasten and drop your trousers and underpants, making sure that they do not make contact with the covered surface area.
Grimace and ask yourself if a country with such a toilet can or should ever be a superpower.
Assume a squatting position like a competitive ski jumper. Stick your butt out.  This is a good time to pretend you're not a miserable tourist with your pants around your ankles, squatting over a hole in the ground trying to be the ultimate bombardier.
Use your right hand to prevent the soiling of your trousers and underpants by holding them off the ground and pushing them forward, away from any Danger Zone. This is perhaps the best time ever to be a kilt-wearing Scotsman.
In your left hand should be the assortment of paper/wipes/anti-bacterial sheets you intend to use after you are finished with your production.
You would think you would want your left hand to brace your squatting self against the stall wall. However, the stall walls are not always the most sanitary. At any rate, if you are a man you will need your left hand for guidance anyway.
For the men: Use your left hand to aim it away from your trousers and underpants. Point it backwards between your legs - as if it were a rocket engine designed to propel you far away from this alien hole. At the same time be sure not to drop any of the objects in your left hand as they will be rendered horribly irretrievable should you do so.
If you are not a man, use the left arm to balance yourself - waving it around wildly rather than touching the walls or filthy support bars (if any).
If you are able to maintain balance for several seconds, you are ready to begin evacuation. At this point the bulk of your focus should be towards the quick evacuation without soiling your clothing, missing your mark or - God forbid - losing your balance and falling.
For aiming purposes keep your head tucked between your legs - like a bombardier on a very unpleasant mission assigned by General Colin (Powell).
If your aim is true you will have the pleasure of watching (yours) drop down a deep, dark hole to a resounding ploot. If it's not true, you will have the pleasure of watching it come to rest on the floor between your legs hopefully not in your pants around your ankles.
After you have completed your evacuation, DO NOT STAND UP. Remain squatting and miserable.
Continue using your right hand to prevent contact of your trousers/underpants with restroom contents. Place your tissues and wipes in your left hand on top of your underwear/trousers and select the items you need for wiping.
Wipe and curse culture simultaneously, all the while maintaining the squatting position.
Do not drop soiled tissues. That would be too easy. Sadly, the 16th century plumbing can only handle evacuation. Soiled tissues are to be placed in the bin behind you. Without leaving the squat position, twist your body in order to see the bin and make a good throw. Don't worry if you miss, as it's obvious from the sheet pile on the floor that even the squat-tastic natives are no Michael Jordans.
Once sufficiently wiped, humiliated and traumatized, you may stand and re-underpant and re-trouser yourself. This is a good time to reflect on your life and also a good time to try blacking out these last ten minutes.
The filth-covered flush button is behind you and may or may not work.
Open the door to the stall, again knowing the handle has an infinite amount of germs
Exit the stall and never, ever, ever get yourself into a situation where you have to do that again. But first, wash your hands until they are raw.
1.    It's really not that bad once you get the hang of it.
2.    A note on the trough. As hideous as this sounds, there are places where there are still troughs in public bathrooms. In these types of public toilets, there are usually door-less stalls facing up to a long trough with water running down from one end to the other. Folks back up and squat over the trough and everything floats away. These types of toilets are going the way of the dinosaur, but consider yourself warned.
3.    China's reputation for horrible public bathrooms used to be well-deserved, but these days, the government is doing a lot to improve the state of the facilities. You'll often find public toilets rated with stars. There's a lovely 4-star public toilet on the Sacred Way outside of Beijing, for example. However, for older Chinese, they do not understand our toilet with a seat. My one asian friend tell me how her mother still to this day will stand up on our modern sit down with a seat and squat. She tell how she walked into the restroom and saw her 75 year old mother’s head above the stall.
4.    Have a few coins (1-2rmb) with you for use in public restrooms. There's usually a charge and toilet paper will be given with the fee.
5.    Try not to freak out about the squat toilets. Likely as not, you won't have to use one and if you do, it's all part of the experience.

Most of us old enough have used an outhouse at one time or another. I can remember the white bucket kept in each room of my Grandmother’s house that got emptied each morning. But the squat toilet is tool which I hope no one ever has to use.  However, can you imagine that scene in Dumb and Dumber had it been a squat toilet. We would still be laughing, or at least the men.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for following my blog so that I could find yours. This post is hysterical and I hope that is what you intended. I'm laughing and I'm not even a guy.