Please allow me to indulge in a bit of Sunday-evening silliness. It's a buzzy and nervous night for me. I need to scrape some of this sugary thought-fluff out of my head in preparation for my Big Day tomorrow: the very first day back at school! Summer's over, baby. That's right: no more lounging around in my moose slippers, sloppy ponytail and crusty breakfast-food-stained t-shirt. Nope: tomorrow I'll be putting on something teacherly and wholesome - a long skirt, maybe? - and running a brush through my hair, all in honor of standing up before college students for three solid hours and being...well...their English instructor. Gotta look and act the part.
No force-feeling for me today: this evening's post is on toilets and strange sounds. I've been meaning to talk about this important combination of topics for some time, and tonight seems like just the night.
First, the strange sounds. Well, just one sound, actually. I need your help in determining if I'm explaining a particular sound in precisely the right way.
Please attempt the following:
1) Whisper the sound: "hee-yoop," emphasizing the syllable "yoop."
2) Now, do it again but this time, inhale your whisper instead of exhaling.
3) Repeat step 2 again, but this time sort of close the back of your mouth a bit so that air traveling through there (as you inhale) has to pass through a smaller space.
OK - GOOD! Now, tell me: what does that sound like to you when you do #3 (the inhaled, slightly-closed-back-of-mouth whisper of "hee-yoop?") C'mon, what does it sound like? Tell me! I'm hoping that one person - one would make me happy, but more would be even better - says that it sounds like the thing I'm trying to make it sound like. I like to think of myself as reasonably adept wordsmith, yet when I tested this out on my friend M, it completely bombed - which I fear might mean I really suck at explaining things. So let me try on you astute readers to see if I find more success. I need this sound for a future blog post, in case you're wondering.
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Moving on: toilets. I've been thinking about toilets lately, and feel the need to vent for a second. A surprising number of toilet varieties - including the ones that are supposedly the most technologically advanced - bother the shit out of me (no pun intended), and I couldn't seem to escape the most bothersome ones during my recent foray into the Irish homeland.
First, there's the automatic-flush toilets found in many airports today, and in fact found on the very college campus where I teach.
Who thought of these? Seriously: they're wrong. Morally, ethically, physically, cosmically just wrong. I understand the basic premise: enable us to flush away our sorrows without ever having to come in contact with a germ-infested handle touched by many an excrement-molecule-laden hand. But this auto-flush feature is so overboard, so...well...unthinkingly automatic, that I find it ends up being more of a pain than a useful toilet-trait.
Anytime I'm stuck using an auto-flush toilet, the thing inevitably either:
a) Flushes inexplicably while I'm still sitting there. Just what I need: a sudden blast of cool, human-waste-infused mist spraying up against my butt while I'm trying to relieve myself in peace.
b) Doesn't flush when I need it to flush. Which is to say: I'm done with the deed and ready to go, but the thing won't flush - sometimes not even when I wave my hand frantically over the purported "motion sensor" to incite some flush-age. Then I'm stuck with a choice: exit the stall anyway, leaving some poor hapless victim to walk in on my unflushed "gift of bodily self" in the toilet, or simply hang out and wait - with growing irritation - for the toilet to independently decide it's time to flush? Of course, this always happens when there's a long line for the restroom.
Talk about innovation taken to such an extreme that it becomes...no longer innovative. Look. Give me the good old-fashioned toilet with the long metal handle, the kind you can flush with your foot. I'll take that any day over this!
Airplane toilets are next on my toilet hit-list.
Dude, these scare me. Is it really necessary to make such a god-awful, mind-blowing sound every time they flush? When I was a kid, I remember thinking that was the sound of the contents of the toilet being forcibly sucked right out of a hole in the bottom of the airplane, straight into the atmosphere, where it got caught in a spinning mass of blue-antiseptic-chemical-stained poop and pee and toilet paper from OTHER airplane toilets, eventually drifting upward into outer space or plummeting into the ocean.
I sensed that if I left the lid up, or stood too near, that I might get sucked down there too. I still feel that way sometimes. At least, I felt that way on my United flight from Chicago, where the airplane toilets seemed particularly, unnervingly loud. Why are they so loud? Why, why, why?
Next is the self-covering toilet:
Look. If I want a protective covering between the backs of my thighs and the toilet seat, I'll just put together a nice little mosaic-sheath of toilet paper to sit on, thank you very much. The issue with these self-covering deals is that the plastic is presumably supposed to move over automatically, allowing new and unused plastic covering to take the place of the older used segment. The problem is that I never actually see the thing move, so I really don't know if it IS in fact a fresh, clean plastic sheath.
Which sort of takes away the whole point, doesn't it?
So, I've decided that the toilet industry has lately gotten overly fixated on automation as the be-all, end-all solution to everything. But ya know, sometimes it's good to be in control of the situation. We all have enough to worry about regarding the task of releasing bodily waste; who needs the added complications of automated toilet systems that don't really work?
(Although someone should really get in there to make those airplane toilets less frightening - and if that means a bit of automation, I'll take it).
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NOW, back to that noise you're supposed to make - scroll up to the top of this post if you somehow missed it. Go ahead and try it! Now, what does that sound like?