Todayís dispatch will contain some euphemisms.
This is not because Iím trying to conceal anything, but rather that
some of you gentle readers would prefer not to read the stronger,
more familiar language.
Bill Cosby used to do a terrific routine that
made fun of one of the cardinal rules your mother taught you: always
wear clean underwear. The reason for doing so was that if you were
in an accident and had to be undressed unexpectedly, at least the
doctors would know that your mother had taught you to wear clean
underwear. Cosby claimed it didnít matter whether you really did
this or not because "if you make a right turn into a one way street
going the wrong direction and see a Mack truck a hundred feet in
front of you coming your way at 50 miles per hour, first you say it,
then you do it." "It," gentle readers, is the first euphemism, and
is our topic today.
The "facilities" (the second euphemism for those
keeping score) are different than in the U.S. At home, there is a
bowl and the water fills the bowl, frequently at its widest point,
but always plenty wide enough so that it fills the business area of
the facility and can accept anything that might drop in (a partial
euphemism). This will be known as the production (the third
euphemism, a full one this time).
In Europe, most facilities are not made that way.
Usually they are shaped kind of like a funnel so that there is only
a small amount of water at the bottom, still strategically located
to accept the production. The amount of water is so small that
frequent streaking occurs creating many opportunities for cleaning
the facility. I should note that all facilities Iíve seen so far, in
the hotel, now in our temporary apartment, and in the couple of
private homes weíve stayed in, all have a discreet brush located
right next to the facility.
The facility in our new temporary apartment where
we will be living for about three months has a new and wonderful
feature: the shelf (not a euphemism Ė thatís what it is). The base of
the facility is shaped like a mixing bowl, i.e. a convex surface
with its lowest point at the center. According to the laws of
gravity, things congregate at the lowest point. You can see where
Iím going with this. The exit point is not in the area of the
business end of the facility. Rather, it is located towards the
front, the end of the facility farthest from the wall and on the
upswing from the bottom where the production has been deposited.
This creates the shelf.
When one has finished producing, itís time to
remove the production from the premises. Things now become a bit
more unpleasant. Inasmuch as the production is not submerged the way
we are used to, it remains there for oneís visual inspection to
ascertain that all is well. Why else would this have been made this
way? In addition, the lack of submersion also lets one know that
oneís olfactory senses are intact, something that is, of course,
vital to oneís health and sense of well-being.
There are alternative facilities used by
approximately half the population and when in use, the user is
standing. These are usually unremarkable but in many public places,
including Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, just to the side of the
place where the production (in this case, production of a different
sort than previously mentioned) takes leave of the facility, there
is frequently a decal of a fly. The uninitiated think at first that
the fly is real and take aim trying to hit it. After a bullís-eye
causes no movement on the part of the fly, one realizes one has been
had. But itís fun anyway, even if thereís no skill involved hitting
the stationary target. One does what one has to do to keep one
amused. The fun of this facility, however, does not compensate for
the angst of using the other facility. You see, when I find I have
to use the other facility, first I say it, then I do it.