An Ode to the Crapper, The Big 80’s, and a Japanese Toilet, Too

office-space-copier

Technology is beautiful…when it actually works.

When I was in high school, there was a discount department store that had pay toilets.  The theory was that you put a dime in the slot, turn the lever and the bathroom stall door opens.  It was slightly reminiscent of a parking meter, only it wasn’t timed.  In practical application, however, people liked to do funky things with the slot, such as jamming it up with popsicle sticks (what they were doing with those in the crapper I’ll never know) or super glue.

The end result was that even if you were one of those people who were willing to pay the dime to keep from having to slide under the stall door, the odds were very good that even with the dime you weren’t going to be opening that stall door any time soon.  Many individuals saw fit to shimmy under the stall door or barring that option, (somehow, considering this was a ladies’ room) pee in the sink, pee in the floor drain, or, which did happen on occasion, drop a deuce on the floor drain.

paytoiletlock

The motivation behind that great old poem:

Here I sit, all broken hearted

Paid my dime, and only farted.

I don’t think that I ever had to use the bathroom so urgently while at that store that I couldn’t make it across the parking lot to the Burger King to use their (free) toilet.   I was never good enough at doing the Limbo to consider trying to shimmy under the stall door.  I wasn’t tall enough to consider peeing in the sink either, and considering how many people just relieved themselves on the floor, I didn’t want to risk touching that floor with clothing, body parts or hair to begin with.

Today is one of those “somebody jammed a popsicle stick in the crapper lock” sort of days. It’s an automatic “go to option B” sort of day.  Our invoicing system isn’t working, which means I’m not selling anything.  I can’t do reports.  I can’t check inventory.  The phones are still on though, so I can still listen to people bitch, and I can freak out about all the people I’m going to have to call and all the catch up I’m going to have to engage in once the system is actually working again.

paytoiletlockcompanyvig

Leave it to the New Englanders to find another way to make you pay!

Pay toilets seem to have lost their popularity, at least in central Ohio.  I am surprised someone hasn’t figured out a toilet lock that accepts MasterCard and Visa.  If the City of Columbus can find parking meters that take plastic then I’m sure the technology exists. If I really, really had to go, I’d be willing to pay, let’s say $5 on my debit card to get in.

I probably shouldn’t give people ideas, although maybe there was a lesson learned from the behavior of the sink whizzers and floor crappers of the early-to-mid 1980’s.  It just might not be worth the potential $5 per crap in the toilet if most people forgo the pay device and just crap on the floor and/or pee in the sink.

Considering the dismal condition of many public toilets, perhaps a $5 debit card swipe at the door (at the main door, not the stall door) would be worth it IF the toilet was kept immaculately clean.  The Japanese have it pretty good as far as toilet technology goes.  I’d be willing to pay to use one of those funky self-cleaning Japanese toilet/bidet/health monitor things.

hightechtoilet_Miyako

Elimination: Star Wars Style

Unfortunately most public bathrooms look more like this:

gas station crapper

No wonder I see so many trucker bombs.

I don’t understand the motivation behind wanting to trash a public restroom.  One might think it a good thing, a sort of karmic justice issue so to speak, to keep the crappers one uses tidy so the next time it’s necessary to use one it might be clean and somewhat safe to use.  Then again, the lesson I’ve learned over the past week is that logic doesn’t necessarily apply to what actually happens in the real world.

In high school I used the school bathroom once.  I didn’t even attempt it at the old Freshman Building, because it had the original (wooden seat) toilets from 1915.  In 1982 these were not safe to use.  The way they were originally designed was cool- you sat on the seat, used the toilet, and when you got up there was a spring-loaded device that automatically flushed.

I’m sure in 1915 that was amazing state of the art technology.  But by 1982, when (and if) they actually flushed, they would send a geyser of toilet contents skyward, often showering the toilet user with the toilet contents.

vintage toilet geyser

A shower that will not promote bodily cleanliness.

In the main high school (built in 1959) the functionality of the toilets wasn’t the issue.  They were regular industrial-style toilets with the toggle-lever flushers like one might see in your local Taco Bell. The things the girls did in the bathroom was the issue.  There was graffiti- everywhere- that would make a porn star blush.  Many people smoked in there.  I didn’t have the courage to light up in the school crapper though.

I used that bathroom exactly once.  It seemed OK, until for some inexplicable reason I looked toward the ceiling.  To my horror, a heavily used maxi pad was hanging by the tiniest bit of adhesive on to the ceiling.   If that tiny bit of adhesive had let go before I made a swift exit, I would have had a very nasty mess splattered all over my verdant, thick, big 80’s spiral permed hair.

big hair

Yes, I had hair like this at one time- long, long ago, back when the air was dirty, sex was clean, and Steve Perry was oh-so-hot in Spandex. Spiral perms (i.e. the infamous Uni-Perms) not only fried your hair, they sucked the color out of it too.  Needless to say it would have been rather nasty to clean a bloody mess out of a massive hair nest like that.

Skoal was bad enough.  At least the girl who saw fit to spit Skoal in my hair ended up getting pinned down and having her head shaved.  I did have a few good friends in high school who really enjoyed the fact that I had cigarettes- and a car.

steveperry80s

The Big 80’s.  Steve Perry was probably the best thing about that entire decade.

Ode to the Crapper, Snake Handlers, and Reality Bites

bigger vehicle winsI had an ’88 VW Fox that was similar to this car, only mine was a 4 door, and I knew better than to run it into a tank.

I am not your friendly neighborhood optimist.  There are times when I wish I could be, but I was the kid who asked the catechism teacher* (*but NOT any of the teachers who were also nuns) where the bathroom is in heaven.  I’m probably the only person on the planet twisted enough to ask that question, but it has a rational foundation.  It’s always wise to know the proximity of the nearest crapper, and as much as I would hope eliminatory functions will not be necessary in the next life, I figure if there’s toilets in church, then the need for commodes might just transcend the Great Beyond.   It would be my luck.

old time crapperThey would probably be cool old-style Victorian era crappers like this one.

There was indoor plumbing in the late Victorian era, but only rich folks had it.  Poor folks had to use the outhouse.  My grandparents didn’t get indoor plumbing until the late 1950’s.  No, I am not that old.  I wasn’t born until the late 1960’s, so I don’t know about their  particular outhouse from personal experience.  The closest I ever got to a real outhouse was having to use the latrines at the Girl Scout Camp and the State Parks and/or Porto Johns.  That was bad enough.

poemI’m glad I don’t have balls.  I do wonder, though, if it’s so nasty, why are you lingering long enough to pull out a Sharpie and make commentary on the Porto-John wall?

For the uninitiated, outhouses may contain snakes, spiders, biting insects such as wasps and hornets, raccoons, mice and possums, or a combination of all of the above.  Non-venomous snakes don’t really phase me.  I have a ball python.  Jerry has a rather tempermental red-tail boa.  But pythons and boas are constrictors.  They can bite you and that’s not fun, but generally a bite from a constrictor will simply leave you with a few puncture wounds- not much worse than a cat scratch.  It’s rare for constrictors that are handled to bite unless they’re hungry and you smell like food.

ball pythonThis is a ball python. Pythons are NON-venomous snakes.  I have one just like it, and I have no problem picking him up.  He eats juvenile rats.

Venomous snakes are quite another matter.  I pretty much know what the “harmless” snakes, such as garter snakes, ball pythons, boas, rat snakes, etc. look like.  Rattlesnakes and copperheads are NOT snakes to be handled unless you know what the hell you’re doing, and even those people get bit rather often and sometimes die from it.

snake handler church

Perhaps I shouldn’t mock the snake handlers, but I think the Lord gives out something called “discernment,” and He would rather see people use that to avoid doing dangerous things, instead of people doing irrational things that increase the chances of them earning their Darwin Awards.

The thing I never really understood about snake handling is how is it any different from any other risky behavior?  Did Jesus tell people to get drunk and drive, or to run with scissors?  It just doesn’t make much sense.  Thankfully the snake handling tradition is obscure and it takes its origin from the long ending of the Gospel of Mark, that does not occur in all of the original manuscripts:

“And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues;  they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Mark 16:16-18 (NRSV)

snakehandlingchurchI wonder if this disclaimer would hold up in court?   Does it also apply to the coffee, or are Pentecostals allowed to drink coffee?

I don’t take that snippet from the Gospel of Mark as a directive for going out and deliberately picking up rattlesnakes and copperheads or swilling poison for something to do, but I wasn’t raised in Appalachia or in the Pentecostal tradition.   I was raised with old-school Catholicism, which is plenty scary enough, even without venomous snakes or cyanide being involved.  We had to deal with nuns.  Most of the really creepy stuff associated with Catholicism has to do with the whole business of praying to the dead, people getting the stigmata, and exorcisms, and other way out supernatural freaky kinds of things.  I don’t disbelieve in the supernatural, but I do believe that when the spirit world makes itself known here on earth that it’s usually demons and such behind it, and I’d rather steer way clear of that noise.

the-exorcistI have my share of problems, but at least for now my head is screwed on straight, for what it’s worth.

So, maybe I’m the only one to have made the inquiry regarding the necessity of the loo in the Great Beyond.  Maybe not.  I’m not the only one who wondered why people’s clothes stayed clean on Gilligan’s Island even though they didn’t have either washing machines nor access to Tide.

Gilligan's_Island-003They are simply too clean.

tide-detergentMaybe there was some of this under the seats in the Minnow or something.

 

Absolute Authority, Colonel of the Urinal, and Which Circle of Hell is This?

I can’t say I envied her death by guillotine, but she had an awesome wardrobe for a time, whatever that’s worth.

(Just imagine all the lice in that wig…)

Today I am reminded of Lord Acton’s Dictum: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  This being said, I don’t want to be in charge of anything more lofty than getting Jerry’s AV equipment working for him.  It’s a TV and cable box, (God forbid he wants to figure out how to play a DVD at 6:30 AM) but for him, the TV remote might as well be Mission Control at NASA.

We have achieved ignition!  The TV is on!  Now Jerry can watch the news, and I can get on with getting my own shit done.

I know I shouldn’t pander to Jerry’s ever-present Helplessman mode.  I know he wants attention, otherwise he wouldn’t have unplugged all that crap a couple of weeks ago, forcing me to contort my body into positions it was never meant to assume in order to plug all of it back in and get it working again.  I couldn’t do Kama Sutra positions when I was younger and actually had sex every now and again.  Why the hell should I suffer like that knowing that sex is just a distant memory, and all I’ll get out of it now is dirty and pissed off?

Now that he knows I really hate the contortionist bullshit I have to go through to plug everything in again, it follows that when he whines about not being able to operate the TV, I will just turn the box on and leave the box on, and set the power button so the power button only works the TV.  If you turn off the box, then you have to turn the power button on, then turn the box on, then hit the power button again and then hit the TV button, which is just too many steps for Jerry.  If he would just leave the damned thing alone except for turning the TV on and off with the power button, it would work just fine, but he has to jack around with things he doesn’t understand.   Guess who gets to fix that mess?

Yes, he was raised by wolves, and his childhood sucked, and he didn’t get enough attention from Mommy, and all that psychological clap trap, but by the time you’re 55 one would think you would have learned to let it go and just deal.  Maybe I just took my own dysfunctional childhood the other direction and became insanely self-sufficient out of necessity and also out of recognition that if I want something done, it’s on me to get it done.

Depending on the charity or beneficence of others is sort of like wishing in one hand and taking a big juicy crap in the other.  We all know which one is going to fill up first.  Either I do it myself, or pay someone else if it’s something I can’t do myself. I don’t expect anyone to do my laundry, or hook up my TV, or fix my meals.

It’s well to remember that before the mid-20th century, most Americans were rednecks raised by wolves, bathing twice a year whether they needed it or not, and using the facility in the woods along with the bears.

I wish we had another working toilet.  There is a toilet in the basement, but it doesn’t work.  It’s some kind of weird electric (?) flush up type thing, but it’s permanently out of order unless Jerry can find someone to fix it or replace it or something.  Plumbing is a skilled trade- that I know absolutely nothing about.

All I know is that it cost $250 for the plumber to re-do the kitchen sink drain after Jerry tried to put a catfish head down the kitchen sink disposal.  The bad part about sharing a bathroom (and even though Jerry’s as filthy as a  horde of hogs, I would rather share a bathroom with a dude than a woman any day) is that it seems he has to take his place on the throne at the same time I need to brush my teeth and put on enough makeup to avoid traumatizing small children and dogs.

“Shit with a Hint of Mint” is not a flavor I think the product developers at Colgate had in mind, but more often than not, that’s the experience in my world.

This one would be flying off the shelves… not!

Perhaps I shouldn’t be so sensitive.  I should be more thankful that I don’t have much of a sense of smell.   If it stinks to me, it positively has to reek to the rest of the world.

I’m also thankful for the MP3 player, as the abysmal selections of country music being played by others in my vicinity seem to get worse every day.  I don’t care about saving horses and riding cowboys, nor do I give a hang about some hillbilly’s alcohol problem. I have realized that being exposed to country music- constantly and against my will, especially- only makes me loathe it more.  That’s OK.  I’m listening to the live version of Journey’s “Line of Fire,” which is drowning out the oat opera quite nicely.  I don’t want to be rude, but I would like to tell both the oat opera offenders where they can shove their damned radios and how high.  Those things have headphone jacks…please for the love of God use them!

I miss Reagan even more after the current Obfuscater in Chief sent out yet another misguided apology yesterday.

Back to our friend Lord Acton and his Dictum.  One person or one misguided group of people holding all the power is a very dangerous thing.  Humans are evil by nature, and without checks and balances- just imagine a five year old left alone in a car with a very expensive interior with nothing but his imagination and a Sharpie.  I’ve seen it.  It’s not pretty.  Neither is what has happened to the current government of this country.

I think if anything the system that we have to fear in this country isn’t so much Marxism or socialism or communism, but government by oligarchy.  The good ol’ boy system is nothing new, which is why the Framers of the Constitution tried to design safeguards into our system of government to help prevent one person- or even one ideological group- from getting too much power.  Obama on his own- he’s not that bright.  But the self-appointed “elites” who run things behind the scenes know exactly what they’re doing to this country and by proxy to the entire world.

Some pigs are more equal than others, as Orwell pointed out.  Al Gore might preach to the world to “mind their carbon footprint” and “wipe with reusable cloths,” or to “bury your car,” but this jackwagon is riding about in private jets and SUVs and sucking down more fossil fuels in a weekend than some entire countries do in a year.  You can bet there’s no Charmin shortage at Chez Gore either

Let them eat Big Macs!