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When nature calls

March 3rd, 2011

This week as I was comfortably browsing the pages of The CN, my toilet decided to flush on me without warning. Not only did this make my hind-quarters wet, but I hadn’t even finished what I was there to do. That is why I would like to take this opportunity, much as Spunk and White did with the “Elements of Style” literary guide, to establish the “Elements of a Proper Lavatory.”

To me and many friends with whom I have talked about this, the bathroom should be a place of serenity for a man. If a man’s home is his castle, then no doubt his john is his throne. Here at John Carroll, we pride ourselves on diversity, and our lavatories definitely contribute to this effort; but sometimes this isn’t always for the better. So after two years of investigatory research, I have come up with criteria for what I believe creates the proper bathroom environment.

The first thing that comes to mind is cleanliness. Perhaps there is a stereotype that guys don’t mind a mess. While this is true in some cases, when determining which facilities to use, most people choose the cleaner one. Toilet paper on the floor is gross, and I don’t want the risk of walking out of the bathroom with it trailing on my foot. Additionally, a pool of water on the tile is very unpleasant – if I am there for more than number one, I don’t want my trousers getting wet. And as for a clean seat, I expect a perfectly hinged and polished stool.

Another criterion I tend to look for is whether or not the bathroom is equipped with adequate reading material. Chances are, if I lock the stall door I am making it my residence for a comfortable while; obviously, I need something to read. My first choice is always the latest issue of The Carroll News. Bathrooms with these in them have an immediately higher quality than most others. But The Plain Dealer is also a fair substitute.

If absolutely necessary, I will resort to a good novel or trivia book. However, it should also be noted that the bathroom is not a classroom. Keep your homework out of it. It defiles the homework and robs the bathroom of its sacred anti-academic atmosphere. Shame on you, if you have ever done this.

Naturally, with cleanliness and reading material as factors that make for the perfect water closet, you may be wondering where graffiti fits into this whole scheme. On one hand, it makes the bathroom less clean. On the other hand, it’s something to read while you’re passing the time. My stance on bathroom graffiti is one of discretion. If it is appropriate or funny, I can appreciate it. I am actually a big fan of philosophical debates scratched into the stall door, as these give me something to contemplate while I am answering nature’s call.

However if it is vulgar or begins with the phrase, “Here I sit all broken hearted…”, I do not stand for this kind of powder room vandalism. Nor do I tolerate the classic, “For a good time, call (insert number here).” In case anyone is curious, good times do not usually come from calling this number. This is another instance of poor excretory conduct.

A fourth standard I consider is the bathroom’s smell. It should be a neutral odor, despite the nefarious affairs conducted in its walls. If it smells like the sewage treatment plant where the product will end up, then I won’t use it. Disgusting. Conversely, if it smells overtly of flowers and vanilla, I am suspicious of what they are trying to hide – probably the foul stench of users past. And that’s just trying too hard.

The final criteria I would like to consider are the standards of general comfort. The more private a bathroom is, the higher it ranks on my list. Isolation is a must. Softness of the toilet paper is also something to look at. I am not expecting Charmin Ultra with built in moisturizer in my public bathrooms, but I also don’t want to tenderize my rump with 80-grit sandpaper.

Simply put, for me, a bathroom should be like a hotel room – a place that you can make your temporary residence and still feel the comforts of home. It should be a clean environment with plenty of reading material to occupy my thoughts during my stay. If a lavatory meets these basic standards, then it meets my expectations for a truly Bayer Bathroom. And a Bayer Bathroom is a happy bathroom.