Archive for June, 2010

Top 10 Public Restroom Absurdities

Enjoying a warm dinner on a Sunday afternoon: mom decided it’s Italian night and you really couldn’t disagree with that. After forking down a mound of linguine with a rich alfredo sauce, the feeling comes: maybe not the greatest in all the world, but it hits you with a bang. Your rear end just explodes from within and you yearn for… relief. At this point you start questioning yourself, “why didn’t I use the restroom at home first?” At least all the handles are polished– and clean, the toilet seat in tip-top state you could almost kiss its porcelain coating and stroke its smooth exterior. But no, outside of the house it is a completely different world of restrooms: all different animals to capture and classify, to judge and review. While some are as sanitary as a hospital, the majority are torturous and filthy. Here are some of the devilish attributes that Connor and I love to hate, from mildest to most extreme:

1o. [Connor] Ominously dim lights. I don’t typically come across dim lights in bathrooms. In fact, I hardly ever do. However, I do occasionally get so bored in spanish class that I get the urge to get up, walk out the door, and go to the nearest bathroom to go pee, even if I don’t have to. The closest bathroom to my classroom is in a really old part of the building, so it’s a little dilapidated. My friends and I call the bathroom on that hall, the rape room. Of course, there’s been no instance of rape in there ever; it’s just a catchy name that describes the nature and atmosphere of said restroom. Let me describe this one of many amazing bathrooms of my school. First off, there’s no door. Second, there’s only ONE working light, which is placed by the door. There’s only two urinals, which are almost always being used, so I usually have to go even further back into the restroom to use the stall. It’s like layers of the ocean. The stall is in the equivalent of the bathypelagic zone in the ocean. Almost no light reaches that far. Anyway, it’s really creepy to me to have my most prized possession out of my pants in such a vulnerable place. Anyone could just like sneak in or look over the walls and it’s so dark I wouldn’t even realize it. Basically, that bathroom is the prime place for a rape to go down, hence its nickname.

(the actual “rape room” from my school)

9. [Michael] Stall graffiti. Growing up in an urban environment, I feel I am fully aware of the extent of graffiti on public structures such as trains or buildings. The thing is, it is rather uncomfortable to see that writing be brought into the one place I would like peace and quiet from the outside world: the toilet stall. Can’t I just get a little bit of me time and not have to stare at the portrayals of angst from the lower class? The walls of the stalls are a huge target to carved writing: mainly swears, gang symbols, or numbers to call to have sex. No thanks, I don’t want to think about getting in a prostitute’s pants while I relieve myself. I understand that this may be a way of artistic expression, but there are healthier manners to choose from. The point really is, who sits on a toilet with a knife and just carves words or images while they use the restroom? The only thing I would want to be concentrated on is getting it out of my system so that I wouldn’t have to be stuck in the confines of the stall.

8. [Connor] Those piece-of-crap automatic sinks that won’t work. This is one thing I, Connor, can’t stand! I go into the bathroom to take a tinkle and it’s all good and stuff…until I try to wash my hands and I see faucets without knobs. I automatically think oh crap, it’s one of those sinks! Damn! It’s even worse when I [try extremely hard to] get the last morsels of soap, lather my hands, put them under the nozzle and it doesn’t turn on. So I’m in a gross bathroom with my hands all soapy and still penis-y. It sucks not being able to completely wash my hands. It’s also stupid when I do get them to turn on, but the water only runs for a maximum of oh, I don’t know, around three microseconds.


7. [Connor] Missing soap. This kind of connects to number eight. I mean, I just hate when I take a piss and there’s no soap in the freaking dispenser to wash my hands with! If I can even get the automatic sink to even turn on, then I just rinse my hands. If I can’t get that to work…well, I just eat or whatever with delicious, peenie fingers. Later on, after I’ve eaten like a taco or something with my peenie fingers, I feel really gross. Soap is so important and cheap! I don’t know why so many establishments fail to fill the soap basins. Especially when they only have like one or two bathrooms. It pretty much infuriates me.


6. [Michael] When there’s a row of urinals that are practically on top of each other. What really makes men feel special is when they have the opportunity to use a device forbidden to women to relieve themselves: the urinal. The urinal is most famous for its easy in- easy out approach to letting men let out their lemonade. I truly don’t understand why restroom designers have to exploit this precious gift by putting the stalls directly next to each other so as to have men huddle up close in order to urinate. Finally, architects have listened to complaints and put in a boundary between the two devices. But still, the majority of stalls are truly open to the eye (of the man peeing right next to you). I know that at my school it is a curse to use a stall directly next to another student. The line just piles up with peers waiting for the perfectly positioned stall when there is obviously one available. I’ve been called gay several times by choosing the “incorrect” urinal and it truly bothers me. In order to avoid this problem in public I follow the invisible box method, which is exactly how it sounds. Just box yourself in by looking forward to the wall or at the contents of the urinal. Of course, the second one isn’t the greatest eye candy, but it functions in society. By doing this, you can avoid looking at the creepy mustache, pot belly, or hairy hot dog (eww) of the man next to you.

5. [Michael] When you walk into a stall and BAM! It looks like a tornado went through there. Imagine watching a ghastly, frightening horror movie at night: thunderstorms outside, pitch black living room with the only source of light coming from the massive screen of the tv. All of a sudden, the mutant zombie jolts up from the grave and gives an ear-piercing shriek of fury. It is at that moment where you just jump in twenty directions from shock. This same expression of terror, sadly, can be found in just about any public restroom. There are at times sights (and atrocious odors) you can’t believe emanating from a stall: an erupting toilet clogged and overflowing with paper, discolored from a generous portion of feces and urine. So gruesome and disturbing a sight: as if a crime played out… such a pity. You just walk out, feeling sorry for the poor janitor, living on minimum wage, whose job it is to deal with this trash, and move on to the next stall as if nothing happened.

4. [Connor] Pubes on toilets. For me, there’s almost nothing at all worse than going up to a urinal or stall, pulling my dinger out, looking down, and seeing a long, thin, curly, black pubic hair on the toilet seat/urinal. It makes my penis want to crawl up and hide like a turtle retreating into its shell. Unfortunately, when I see the pube, I can’t pack up and vacate because I’m already in the process of making delicious lemonade. Therefore, I’m forced to see that curly hair just sitting there for a whole minute and a half. Blech. I mean, come on guys! At least trim your pubes! Not only does it protect others from seeing them on urinals and toilet seats, but they just look better too. And if they do happen to shed, well, at least they’re not long (ewwwwie).

3. [Michael] No locks on doors. Protection is usually a common element of our restroom experience taken for granted. Those cheap locks on the door keeping the outside world from viewing the contents within act as saviors. Sadly, they aren’t always there for us when we truly need them. Some poor sucker has to come along with a bad attitude and kick the door in a bit—unfortunately changing the fortune of future users. Seriously, the maintenance staff doesn’t care if the lock is broken, which is why the problem stays. Forever. The last thing you would want to do while having to push on your bowels to get the inside contents out is to have to lean forward on the door to keep it shut. Isn’t the strain enough already? Paired with that is the fear that possibly someone would to walk in the stall and see you holding on tightly to your water hose (or even texting if you are at school). Ugh!

2. [Connor] The boisterous flush of airplane toilets. Imagine: you’re on your way to an awesome new place to meet with someone. You’re really nervous, but trying to relax the best you can. At one moment, you feel the need to use the lavatory. You unbuckle yourself and walk like a drunk person down the way-too-narrow aisle to pee. You get there and –thankfully– it’s unoccupied. After locking the door and seeing the lights brighten when it locks (this always makes me giggle) you unzip your pants and let the rivulet flow. After you’re done urinating into the tin can of a toilet, you head for that handle to flush. Of course, this isn’t your first time flying, so you know what is coming. You brace yourself…and press it. It makes this extremely obnoxious noise like WHOOOSH BAHBDKNGOIW RNGOWJWRH IONRGWHOOOOOOOSH! Being all perturbed as you likely are, you wash your and head back down the thin aisle to your cramped economic class seat. I think I can speak for about 95% of the population when I state that airplane toilets are one of the loudest, most annoying sounds that can ever be heard. Well, probably not as loud and unsettling as someone farting in your ear, but probably pretty close.

1. [Michael] Poop backsplash. Being a male, it really isn’t that often that I have to use a stall. Thank goodness to that! Public toilets would be such a nuisance to have to use on a regular basis. Imagine being outside on a rainy day, walking blissfully along the wet and muddy sidewalk, sniffing in the fresh, earthy scent of nature, when all of a sudden a car comes by and causes a puddle a couple of feet away to erupt in a frenzy and splash in just about every direction. You are soaked, cold, and most unsatisfying: filthy. That’s basically the feeling I get using a public toilet. Hoping to relieve myself, I sit down on the toilet paper coating I’ve decorated the seam of seat with and let it all out. The thing is, god made it so that while some business comes out smoothly and softly, other business is as hard as a rock and only causes trouble. Well, when releasing the rocks into the pit of yellow liquid below, there is a rather gruesome after-effect that makes me cringe and shake: the splash. The splash is NOT your friend! He just throws at your face every gift you’ve sent him and leaves you sick with a bitter feeling. I just hate when toilets splash back at you. The worst part is its long term effect: having to go about the rest of the day with all that junk in your trunk: a sampling of all the contents of that one toilet. Definitely the most disturbing part of the restroom experience.


Picture yourself standing in the middle of an elaborate labyrinth of a maze. If you get out, you get to have your life back. Now, picture yourself standing on the flat grasslands of Nebraska. If you find a skyscraper five miles away, you get no prize.Which is easier to find? The skyscraper in the middle of Nebraska, or your way out of a labyrinth? Now, let’s analogize. Finding the skyscraper assimilates to finding a gross, nasty bathroom. In contrast, finding your way out of a maze equates to finding a nice, kept-up bathroom complete with soap and door locks. Discovering a gross bathroom yields no reward. Coming across a clean bathroom? The given reward is, of course, being able to walk out with a smile of relief on your face rather than a grimace of distraught.

A Collaborate Post
By Michael and Connor

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That Abandoned Idea

(June 11th, 2010)
Dear thank-god-its-summer-break Planet Earth,

Sometimes I think this idea is gonna be so great. And maybe it is. But then other times I remember other things I thought would be great… What if this all bombs out? Then in a few years I’ll look back and think, Boy, was I stupid.” ~ Trevor McKinney

As a child, you are given little to no freedom. Making a difference in the world is left for the big, strong adult figures in society… everyone else just fades to the background and lets the world change around them as they go on with their normal lives. To adjust the normal rhythm of events would be too enormous for a child, supposedly. Even after thinking you come close, there is always someone to drag you down and say that the brilliant idea won’t work and how you should just move on.

Thirteen-year-old Trevor managed to go against the flow of the world and bring about positive difference. Living with an alcoholic mother and a father who abandoned him, Trevor puts aside his problems to think about how he can actually spark change in the world around him. Through the concept of “paying it forward” he passes on good deeds to the needy people around him: he helps a homeless man make a living,  helps an elderly woman with her dream garden, and helps save the life of man getting mugged. His whole plan acts as a long chain: one is supposed to help three people, and each of those three are supposed to help another three and it keeps going on until all the world is performing kind acts. Faced with the imperfections in society, Trevor just about abandons his theory thinking that no one in their right mind would pass it on. It takes a reporter: Chris Chandler, to trace his way from the other side of the country to find Trevor and tell him that he has created an enormous movement, sparked the interest of the media, and lowered crime rates eighty percent. Out of nowhere, Trevor is whisked to stardom for his development of a simple idea.

I was introduced to Pay It Forward in Eighth Grade in one of my elective classes for a unit on inspirational people. I don’t even remember why I was forced to take such a pointless class, but that doesn’t matter: I pulled something great out of the experience. After watching the movie, I at once fell in love with the sweet, warm plot line and it dawned on me that this was something I would want to revisit in the future. This past week I decided to read the book version of the novel and get even deeper into the lives of the characters that I had known  solely on the surface after seeing the movie. It seems like everyone always says that the book version is better than the movie, and I can’t disagree with that. I just adored watching the hidden progress of the movement and exploring the lives of the characters through their own various perspectives and inputs. Each chapter focuses on a different character who was affected by Trevor’s idea, which helped me understand the movement as a whole. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in mystery novels, since there is quite a bit of profound investigation. Pay It Forward also has numerous heartwarming moments; these charitable characters painted intricately by the author will appeal to any reader. The ending was such an incredible twist of events; you’ll enjoy it.