'What about the germs', I say. He says, 'I don't believe in germs. Germs are just a plot they made up, so they can sell you disinfectants, and soaps.'"
~ Jeffrey Goines,
Breakfast: Cheerios with
Servant of Two Masters
TINKLE, TINKLE, LITTLE STAR
29 May 2004
I read this on someones journal today:
I dont know why my very first memory of a public toilet was at the local playground with my grandmother. I dont remember my grandmother taking me to the playground all that often and thinking of her now and trying to picture her sitting in the sand or taking me into the wooden shack that housed the public toilet seems so very out of character.
Still, I remember being in that public toilet and getting a lecture on how you NEVER touch a public toilet.
It must have been a pretty impressive lecture because, while Ive gotten better about sitting on the toilet over the years, I still flush the toilet by stepping on the handle instead of pushing the lever with my hand (love those auto-flush toilets!) Its totally irrational but obviously old habits die hard. Somehow she instilled in my young girl brain the idea that if my flesh came in contact with a public toilet, I would instantly catch all sorts of nasty diseases. Diseases I couldnt even imagine until I began working for a gynecologists office.
(Funny that I could wash and handle speculums all the time, but still flush a public toilet with my foot!!!)
I dont know when I finally lost my phobia about actually sitting on a public toilet seat, but there were years...decades....when a visit to a public toilet was a real ritual. First you have to check all the stalls to get the one which looks the most desirable (or, more accurately, "least undesirable"). If there are bits of paper on the floor or --god forbid "leftovers" in the bowl, thats an immediate no-no.
Then you have to put the paper cover on the seat, only since you cant actually TOUCH the seat (because of all the cooties living there waiting to jump on your skin) thats quite a process in itself. And of course, the cut-out part of the paper seat cover never fully "cuts out" the way its supposed to.
Then you straddle the paper-covered seat, trying not to knock the paper into the toilet. Its designed, of course, for you to SIT on, but those cooties are able to sneak through the paper, so you cant sit on it. You have to straddle and aim right. If you dont aim right, or if you havent fully cut out the cut out section, or if the paper shifts slightly on the seat while you are straddling the bowl then you end up peeing into your socks--which I did more times than I want to think about in my playground days.
Something about urine-soaked socks and a sandbox that just isnt pleasant.
The worst times were when we went on vacation. We spent vacations at a resort in Sonoma County--Sunnyside Cottages at Boyes Hot Springs. The "springs" included a huge pool complex, which had a large swimming pool and then two spa pools, sulfur-smelling pools in varying degrees of hot. Nothing like going into a steam-filled room smelling of sulfur with all these fat old matrons lounging about on the side of the pool. Is it any wonder that I have never quite developed the "hot tub mentality"?
In any pool area, the toilets are horrible. The floor is always wet. Its wet from the dripping water off of bathing suits, but naturally I assumed that the wet was from the urine leaked off of paper covers that straddling users had just missed. Its a wonder I never developed kidney problems from "holding it" during my childhood.
Of course, peeing in the pool was a much more pleasant option--it never occurred to me that if all the swimmers used the pool as I did, then swimming around in the pool was a lot more dangerous than possibly getting some urine on my feet while trying to stand up over a toilet to pee.
I dont know when I finally got over my toilet phobia, as far as sitting down is concerned. Heck, I can go into a truck stop and sit down on a toilet in a filthy bathroom with no paper cover for anybody to use and dont feel like I have to take a shower afterwards.
But, weirdly, I still flush the toilet with my foot. Somehow I guess all those cooties, in my mind, have transferred them from the buttal regions to the handle of the toilet.
(Well, the toilets that have flushing levers at the toilet seat level. On regular house-type toilets, I do use my hand to flush--I'm so fat that I can't kick high enough to flush the toilet without falling over backwards onto the floor--and of course the floor is obviously full of dripped urine!)
I dont actually feel uncomfortable flushing a toilet manually (as opposed to pedally), its just that its the sort of habit you set in your youth. You use your hand to flush the toilet in your house, and your foot to flush the toilet in a public restroom.
Makes perfect sense to me.