From Writhe’s journal:
Hung out at the pub last night with J and his friends. I asked them to speak German so that I could try to follow along. J said I did very well. We went back to his apartment and listened to some music. I woke up early this morning and am now on the train to Munich. Heidleberg has a lot of Irish pubs.
J’s toilet was weird. It was sort of, well… backwards. The first time I encountered it was immediately when I arrived. I must have eaten something that didn’t necessarily agree with me and I really needed to go by the time I got to J’s apartment. I basically dropped my bag in his front hallway and went to this door that he said contained the toilet. Ah man, it was one of those times when your body just knows that a toilet is near and prepares for immediate evacuation. The grumbling, the sense of urgency, knowing that if you don’t do something NOW, you’re going to regret it. I opened the door, stepped inside and closed the door before I had a chance to look at where I was. I didn’t even bother looking for a light switch because some daylight was coming in through a small window high up on the far wall. I was in what I could only describe as a short, narrow hallway with a toilet at the far end. No sink, no shower, no bath tub. Nothing that you would typically find in an American bathroom. I fumbled with my belt and zipper as I lifted the lid not wanting to waste any time. To my surprise, there was only a small bit of water in the deepest part of the bowl, which happened to be on in the front, the complete opposite side of the toilet I was used to. Directly under where my butt would be if I sat on the toilet correctly was this sort of porcelain… uh, shelf? I was totally confused. Was I supposed to sit on it backwards, resting my elbows on the tank? Was I supposed to sit on it like I normally would and let the shelf do it’s job? A gurgle from my stomach told me that I didn’t have time to make a proper decision, much less time pull my pants down far enough to allow my legs enough room to straddle the bowl. I sat down as quickly as I could, normal-style, and commenced pooping.
Oh. My. God. In all my life I had never actually smelled a pile of my own crap. It was one of the worst smells I could ever remember experiencing, even in the bathroom of my childhood home after my father visited it on Stuffed Cabbage night. No wonder American toilets have you go directly into water. It cuts back on the smell significantly! My mind was blown, the universe fell into place, and I finally understood one of the great mysteries that I didn’t know I needed an answer to. I couldn’t help thinking that this is seriously the single weirdest toilet I have ever sat on.
After I was finished (or finally decided that my nose couldn’t take it anymore) I cleaned myself off with a thankfully normal roll of toilet paper and stood up. Finding the flush mechanism, I hoped for the best and pushed it. An almost violent gush of water shot out into the bowl from the tank side to push the pile into the waiting pool, which sucked it all down like a normal toilet. I had to flush twice to get any trace of my humanity off the shelf and keep myself from being embarrassed by the next visitor.
I left the little toilet hallway and flicked on the fan before closing the door. “That is going to turn into quite a story,” I told myself.