The day has arrived when this blog sinks so low that it floats in the foulest water. Time for some toilet talk.
This all comes about because of the fancy toilet setup at the Big 12 Outdoor Track & Field Championships held recently at Baylor in Waco, Texas. At the track where Olympic gold medalist Jeremy Wariner once trained, the only restroom facility was a small block building at one end of the track.
To the rescue came Very Impressive Potties. Yes, that is the name of the unit brought in to serve as a needed refuge of relief. This was an outhouse on steroids, or should I say estrogen. Opening one of two doors assigned to men in the five-room rolling unit, a visitor found a small floral arrangement, a decorative tissue box and a sink with running water. Sadly, some could not seem to find the trash opening set into the countertop I almost expected to be granite. Air conditioning and fresheners kept the private setting almost homey. I just needed a magazine to read.
Sitting down to take care of business, piped-in music lightened the load. Soft rock the first two days and a rerun of a classic Casey Kasem American Top 40 Countdown on Sunday. A bit too sugary for my tastes, but it still beat listening to the buzz of wasps that often rapidly build their nests in the corner of some plastic porta-john left to bake in the summer sun at many sporting events.
Oh, how I know those units. Years of triathlons left me standing in long lines at the break of dawn with other over-hydrated athletes. Mix the usual needs a Johnny-on-the-Job contained with some people’s nervous vomit and you had a three-orifice fun-fest sure to turn a stomach.
During my working career and travels, I have spent time in many a stadium bathroom. I have long thought that trough urinals you can still find in some older football stadiums and basketball arenas are pure genius for passing masses of bladder-bursting fans through quickly. Nothing like the constant flow of water used to keep the troughs remarkably clean to help overcome any performance anxiety as you stand next to four or five of your newest trough friends. However, the lack of doors on stalls at Wichita State’s Roundhouse basketball arena in the early 70’s traumatized me enough as nineteen-year-old to make sure “number two” was taken care of long before I again entered the arena for a game.
In the historic shower room set just outside the velodrome that hosts the final laps of the greatest spring cycling classic, Paris-Roubaix, the winners have their names engraved on plates adorning the cement lockers. They stand in front of the mass shower room where the grit of the long ride over many cobbled sections are famously washed away. It is a photographic honor to be allowed in the locker room as Laura and I were in 2007. Discretely hidden are the porcelain foot rests that flank nothing more than holes in the ground for nature’s most important cleansing.
Of course for the purest simplicity, nothing beats the walk-up open-air units stationed in a Belgium town square along the route of the spring cycling class, Ronde Van Vlaanderen, the Tour of Flanders. Unfortunately, nothing quite as simple seems to exist for Laura as we travel the world.
That means “drop and squat,” which we discovered during our European travels, is socially acceptable. Hiking over a bluff or to a clump of trees in times of need, we were often greeted by happy cycling fans making their way back to the roadside, toilet paper in hand. The same attitude that thinks nothing of cyclists stopping by the side of road for a “natural break” does not translate at well to the U.S.A.
That leads to one final foul thought. Traveling with friends in Yugoslavia in 1972, we stopped for gas at a forlorn outpost along the coast road leading us to Greece. Using what seemed to be the universal word “toileten” for our needs, an aged woman waved her hands and arms in an all-encompassing motion. “World toileten,” she pronounced.
Thinking back on that tattered setting in the then communist country, it is easy now to wonder – would American icon Casey Kasem and a Very Impressive Pottie have changed her outlook on life? Funny what you think about sitting on the toilet.