Well, time for a bit of bathroom humour. I am put in mind of this, by a visit to Costco during the Corona Virus outbreak. Not a roll of toilet paper to be found for love or money. I was joking to my wife that we might be forced to “rough it” like sometimes happens camping. Don’t forget the bog roll or you will discover all the other alternatives.
And they are legion. First and most comical that comes to mind, is my grandmother’s shack out back, the one with a moon on the door. In the country, a good kybo is a good thing. If you are of a luxurious mindframe, you can get a deluxe two-seater model in case you would like a bit of company. The shack was fun in some ways, definitely interesting for a kid, but inexplicably, the constant locus of wasp nests, which motivated you to do your business as quickly as possible. Weather might have the same effect. An outhouse is easier to use in July, than in January at 3 am in the dark. For that reason, my grandmother had chamber pots under the bed so that you had indoor alternatives for those calls of nature in the night.
Reading is one of those inexplicable things people do in the loo. I have never got how this can be comfortable, but some people really like it. In my Grandmother’s kybo this propensity to read and concentrate on something else, was facilitated by the Eaton’s catalogue. It acted as both reading material and toilet paper, what you were perusing, you would tear out, crumple up, unfold and recrumple again as many times as it would take to break the grain of the paper and make it soft like toilet paper. Thank you Mr. Eaton. Popular alternatives were also the Farmer’s Almanac, and the Whole Earth Catalogue. Such possibilities could be a boon for those left out in the cold during the Corona Virus outbreak. Other ingenuous country alternatives to toilet paper, have been things like a small pail of dried corn cobs which shall we say, are recycled in ways most people never thought of. Oh, the possibilities…
Graffiti is another thing added to the list of what people do in the kybo. This generally trends toward subjects people giggle about but wouldn’t own up to in person. In my Grandmother’s outhouse, she would do her calculations of deliveries and such on the door. When milk was coming. There was also a record of when the stone boat was coming, the wagon which would carry out of the full buckets accessed from the trap door on the back of the outhouse. Still, buckets are awkward and the kind of work no one really wants. Most outhouses have a hole that is permanent at least until nature fills it up and you have to relocate. Word of note, if you have a well, your kybo should not be within distance of any seepage of ground water for the obvious reasons.
Kybos are interesting and fun. To reduce the odour, it can be par for the course, to dump some hardwood soda ash into the hole after each usage. It acts somewhat akin to the effects of soap, being high in lye. For those who don’t know, soda ash is the agent used when making soap out of rendered fat. It changes the molecules from fat into lye soap, as anyone knows who has used campfire ashes to scour out a greasy frypan after bacon. Suddenly what you thought was dirt, starts coming up bubbles, and all greasiness is gone.
If you have visited nether parts of the world, you might have been treated to what is called a Turkish toilet, popular in the Orient and Middle East. A Turkish toilet is not much more than a hole. It does not flush and its general condition is based on that fact. Unless you are going to a tourist hotel in a place like Egypt, this is the kind of amenity which is common. Egyptian people do not use toilet paper so, bring your own if you are smart. What you will be faced with, is a small bowl of water to dip after you scoop, lacking anything with which to wipe beyond your own hands. Because of this, you will never find a middle eastern person who wants to shake your left hand. Like I said, the wise bring a supply of toilet paper for such places.
There are also some urban myths which accompany the matter of toilets. Everyone has heard of the one where if every single neighbourhood toilet were to be flushed at the same time, (like commercial break during the Superbowl) the negative pressure would overwhelm the sewer system.
If you are a dad with small girls, you are faced with having to take them into a men’s bathroom where they will quickly take in all the sights, look at the floor and ask you, if that is pee. You will have to unfortunately, lie or they will clam up and never succeed in what they came to do. Toilets are increasingly becoming automatic. No need to flush it with your foot, or barricade your hand in a piece of clean tissue to flush. The electronic eyeball will do that for you. I had lots of fun with my youngest daughter this way because the automatic flushing would terrify her. She couldn’t figure out that it had to do with the electronic eyeball situated behind her. “Don’t worry,” I said.” That’s the peep hole for the midget to flush once he sees you are done. You know, midgets have to have jobs too.” She used to eyeball the hole suspiciously, but she believed me for a long, long time.
This topic also will take you to the matter of boating adventures because water is generally used to wash away the sins of the world. It may come as a surprise to you, to find that places like Toronto Island flush directly out into the water, hoping that any bacteria will be overwhelmed by the volume of water set against it. Still, you might see a turd floating by if you make your way to one of the island beaches and for this reason the ecoli levels are constantly monitored for swimming alerts.
If you have a whole lot of people, water will cease to effectively deal with those unwanted things of life. The Ganges in India is a great example of this. All manner of things are tossed in the Ganges from the ashes of dead relatives, to toilet matters, to garbage and so on. For this reason the annual dunk in the Ganges which is part of Hindu tradition, can make you wince. You might come out dirtier than when you entered.
Why a kybo has a moon on the door is a mystery, but everyone knows what it means. Popular names for the place where we do business, are the John, the Crapper (after Thomas Crapper, inventor of flush toilets) and in England, the loo or water WC (water closet). Small point of interest, the idea of flush toilets has been around for a long time. They had operational plumbing in such places as ancient Petra, and Rome, where aqueducts would supply the water for such household plumbing adventures.
My mind is wandering. All of this from a trip to Costco. I had better get back to work. I was not writing this on the loo, honest. And I am still waiting to stock up on toilet paper, or the alternatives pondered in this commentary, will unfortunately have to become more than mere conjecture.
Toilet humour… it’s like laughing at a funeral. No one knows why, but they laugh anyway.