Mirabile Dictu


Ever concerned that I relentlessly hone my intellectual acumen, son gave me a special book for Christmas.  Toilets of the World.  It is a colorful tour of this important, but often overlooked corner of the built environment.

From a rugged plein-aire outhouse in British Columbia to an aluminum one that pops up like a periscope at night in Soho in London, to the dual culture stool in India upon which you can stand or sit, we visit all manner of approaches to these bits of the daily life of every single person on the planet.


You may find this hard to believe but(!), there is even a website devoted to the best restrooms in our country.  www.bestrestrooms.com Even more surprising is that the facilities in our local airport were voted #5 in the USA in 2006!  The one in the video below (21C Museum Hotel Louisville, KY) was voted #2 last year and  I’m proud to say that I was a able to add it to my tick list when in that city for a ceramics convention with guess who.

Perusal of the not quite coffee table tome led me to reminisce and recall related memorable moments of my own.  And lest you think poorly of me for so indulging I will hasten with the reminder that I’m far from the first to incorporate such, uh, organic matters into exposition.

Take Aristophanes, for example, who several thousand years ago in Athens wrote a play (Peace) in which a major character rode to heaven on the back of a dung beetle.  Why?  Perfect feedback loop.  Passenger doubles as source of fuel.

Anyway, the list of course is endless.  Writing names in snow with my brothers.  Lifting a lid and watching railroad ties pass beneath.  Using snow for the hygiene part.  Standing at a urinal in a fancy hotel (see above) and watching people in fine evening attire make their way through the hallway.  Stack of books in my own special place at home…

No regular visitor to this space will find it difficult to believe that my fondest such memories are set in the out-of-doors.  Once a friend and I were stuck nearly frozen on a ledge knees to chest in a blizzard for two days.  When the storm broke I commenced up the next part soon to feel an intense churning deep within.

My partner was directly below me holding my rope and I was thus loath to do anything to annoy him.  Took all of my will power to both make the necessary progress and purse a certain orifice till I made it to the top of that pitch, tied off and moved to the side.  I won’t go into any more detail, but will speculate that the occasion may well have led to the new National Park Service regulation that thenceforth climbers in that park must step off terra firma with a means of not leaving anything behind.

The last experience with which I will regale you was as an observer.  Years ago a friend (became my brother-in-law) and I were doing a route called Guides Wall in the Tetons.  Mid-way up on an adequate ledge that sloped back to front, he realized that there was business to be done.  He undid what was necessary, backed up, leaned against the wall, and lost himself in thought.  Unfortunately, the sloping geometry allowed the ‘fruit’ of his efforts to roll down upon and into his knickers.

Oh well, be honest, who hasn’t found themselves in something of the same predicament?

And, oh, the view!


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