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Sunday, September 20, 2009

On Toilets and Strange Sounds

Greetings, Folks!

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.

* * *

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).

;-)

* * *

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?

22 comments:

Hope's Mama said...

I'm not really sure, but the dog is looking at me funny....

angie said...

I have to say that those airline toilets ignite my childhood fear of being sucked down the toilet, and, in this case, out into the atmosphere. They actually mess up my hair. I am not a master of physics, but it scares me when wind is created from a swirling hole in an airplane.

That noise is obsessing me. It sounds like something I know...

Pundelina said...

I wish I could fulfil your desire for a reader who knew what that sound was ... but alas 'tis not to be (that's prep for your Shakespeare lesson).

Airplane toilet noises are completely and utterly freaky.

Logical Libby said...

Don't go to Japan -- they have the most ridiculous toilets of all. There is a button on the side to make noise to cover up the sound of you peeing...

jill said...

Hmm I think I'm making the right noise but I don't know what it is...

My office has one of those motion sensor toilets. For ours, you can force-flush by pushing the little black button near the sensor. Flushing while you're still sitting there though? Still annoying. ;)

Michelle said...

OMG I have those same issues with all those types of toilets. I always (still) have that sense of fear when I flush an airplane toilet. And don't get me started on the self covering toilet. I have yet to see one work!

The noise...sorry I can not figure it out, though I have done it several times. I will probably obsess about it for a while ;0. If I figure it out I will let you know.

Brenna said...

Well it's definitely a sucking of some kind...

And given that we're also discussing airline bathrooms and I just took a flight back from Colorado that involved at least one potentially "hee-yoop" guttural flush...could that be it? It's definitely too violent a slurp/sucking noise to be related to spaghetti, I think.

KuKd Chick said...

Ohhh, Brenna, you're so close to the sound! You're basically there! A far cry from the "Alley-Oop sound from Monty Python" that my friend M thought it might be.

KuKd Chick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kristen said...

Is it the sound of someone getting their foot stuck in a pit latrine and then pulling it back out? I hear that can make quite the sucking sound.

Isla's Mommy said...

Okay. My dog is all excited and my husband looking at me like I'm nuts.

I thought it might be the sound of big sloppy puppy dog slurp. More like the cartoon variety. Know what I mean?

But then after reading all about airplane toilets I'm wondering if it supposed to be that suction noise they make right when the little flap opens and before that wind blowing sound (which, as a kid I thought was the wind outside the plane, supporting your childhood theory on where the "stuff" goes).

Thanks for the chuckle!

AnnaMarie said...

I have had way too much wine to follow the directions for making the sound you desire...

The plastic covered toilet seats are totally gross, and I also get unnerved by the bigger than expected whooosh from airplane toilets, however I am a big fan of the self-flush toilet (except for the part when they flush when you are still sitting there, I've identified certain outfits where that is more likely to happen, seriously, keep track of what you are wearing when the early flush occurs!).

KuKd Chick said...

So, are you suggesting I select what I wear based on the probability of having to use an auto-flush toilet that day? Those inventors never foresaw THAT little obstacle, did they!

Tina said...

Hmmmm...can't figure out the sound, but I will keep trying! My Emma, who is 5, is terrified of those automatic flushing toilets. Whenerver we enter a public restroom she always asks me if it will flush itself. I think she is scarred for life!!

Karen said...

No idea on the sound but my big dog came running, too. Which makes me think it must be gross if it attracted our dog so quickly. Hmmm.

On toilets - hah. I have had those stupid automatic toilets not flush so many times. Argh. My husband said the sensors probably don't pick up any life from my frosty cold hands. As for airplane toilets: Some mean boy told me in grade school that if a person was sitting on the toilet in a plane and it flushed that it would pull out their entrails. Lovely. I don't think I used airborne facilities for years after that....

Sara said...

PSA - there's a little black button on the wall behind the auto flush toilets that will flush them.

Cara said...

Late for the party...but have to add my youngest is totally SCARED of the auto toilet because they are so loud...and ALWAYS flush when she's still on them cause she doesn't meet the weight requirement for the sensor to read!!

It's an issue...in heath care worker's offices...when you have to call the clean up crew - again - cause she jumped off while still peeing when the cool mist of flushing juices hit her little heiny!

kp said...

1. The way my sinks sounds draining after I put egg shells down the disposal even though I know I'm not supposed to?

2. I feel terrible for even saying this, but the sound of a D&C?

KuKd Chick said...

One of you mentioned the button on the automatic toilets to make it flush. OK, that's a good thing to have. My issue with that button is that you have to press it with your finger, and who knows what other excrement-covered fingers have touched that button. I like the push-with-your-foot lever better, myself.

And KP: Those are excellent guesses. I don't have a garbage disposal so I've not experienced the egg-shell drop you're referring too, but I can imagine it sounding like an inverted hee-yoop.

Aleeko said...

Is it the sound of sucking...on a popsicle or something similiar? My mind just landed in the gutter it happens when I am very sleep deprived. Sorry. It kind of sounds like the spit sucking thing at the dentist? It depends on how the sound is recreated. I am having fun with all the variations. Good thing I am all alone in the office today.

jill said...

I push the automatic toilet button with my foot :) I probably look like I'm stomping on the wall with the bottom of my foot. haha

Abigail W. said...

The noise (when I make it) sounds like the funky little toilet-burp noise that our prone-to-running-all-night-if-you-don't-jiggle-the-handle potty makes at the end of the flush. I think it's the little plunger-y thingy coming down over the water-drain-y hole?

That's my guess anyway. Hope you aren't getting tired of my way-too-late replies to your posts ;)