A Blog on the Bog: Musings on the Public Convenience

The public toilet is the damnedest thing.

Notwithstanding the stunted adult male who still delights in assailing his friends’ senses with the sounds and smells of his bottom – something I never found amusing, even as a not particularly mature teenager – all matters posterior are generally kept to oneself (and, to varying degrees, to one’s partner).

The public lavatory, however, is the no man’s land of the buttocks, the domain where none of the usual rules apply (and I am not even talking “George Michael”).

I have always considered it a matter of some irony that, in the UK, this place is also known as the “convenience” and as the, unmistakably British, “Gents”. Indeed, at Menorah Primary School, NW11, I would hold my young bladder for an entire day to avoid its offensive odours (not least the emetic pungency of the urinals’ disinfecting chlorine bleach).

Truth be told, I have never truly got over this phobia.

In one’s forties, however, the public toilet cannot be altogether avoided. This is especially true at the Israeli workplace, like mine, providing bountiful – and more or less free – buffet lunches (if you get my drift).

The male managers here (of whom I am, regrettably, one) have at their disposal a WC containing two urinals – as always, chewing gum and pube-infested (a treat that the fairer sex misses out on) – and two cubicles.

The seats in each cubicle are less than a couple of metres apart, with a sizeable gap beneath, and an even larger one above, their half-inch partition. Owing to this uncomfortable proximity, in the event that the “Occupied” sign is displayed in either cubicle, I generally prefer to come back later.

Once enthroned, however, company cannot always be avoided. And I dread the sound of the opening toilet door, marking the end of my solitude and privacy.

Naturally, however, I attempt to psychically influence the entrant:

“Go for the urinals . . . pleeease!”

As I hear the adjoining cubicle door swing open, however, I know that my fate is sealed.

It is not socially acceptable, even in Israel, to attempt to identify and make small talk with the person on the other side. Anyway, how would one break the ice . . .

“Hello. Who is that?”

Even more unusually for Israel, it is not even “done” to talk on one’s mobile phone.

But why all the unnecessary awkwardness? I say lower the partitions, and enable defecators to at least see each others’ faces and chat as usual. What could be wrong with that? One wouldn’t then have to sit, in embarrassed mutedness, while all manner of eruption, emission and plopping are occurring just a few feet away.

Indeed, so uncomfortable am I in the toilet cubicle that I often find myself holding my ears to at least partially insulate my senses from this most oppressive of experiences.

Then there is the dash for the exit, to avoid the dreaded mutual revelation of the identities of the hitherto anonymous protagonists.

If I hear tissue-rubbing on the other side, however, I know that I have missed my chance, only emerging after my company has exited. The very last thing one wants is to end up at the wash basin, forced to confront the perpetrator of the ‘offences’ in the basin mirror.

Again, what would one say to him . . .

Shekoyach!” (well done)?

No. That is most definitely an eventuality to be pooh-poohed.


20 responses to “A Blog on the Bog: Musings on the Public Convenience

  1. Stunted? Adult? Male? Well two out of three ain’t bad.

    I feel compelled to stand up and say that despite being nearly forty-one years old, I still find farts hilarious.

    It is true I mostly enjoy more complex and subtle humour, but a well-timed and acoustically instrusive emission of anal gas can shine an iconoclastic beam of glorious sunshine on an otherwise boring g’mara shiur (or similar).

    Moreover I am perfectly happy to carry on conversations with strangers in adjoining stalls – if they are happy to talk to me but more usually I write emails or blog-comments on my phone. I do not understand nor do I relate to the need for toilet anonymity.

    As Taro Gomi said, “Everybody Poops

  2. I was at a client’s today when I felt the “Holy Zion Train” suddenly came into the station and had to excuse myself to his en-suite bog (toilet).

    I am sure the entertainment value of the sounds emitted cajoled him (in my absence) to raise my hourly rate.

  3. Wasn’t that R.E.M., Jeremy?!

  4. At my mother’s shiva no less (z”l), Michael Goldman made his way to the water closet, pitifully unaware of the unfortunate events that were to haunt him for the rest of his life.

    Upon entering the toilet, he was greeted by an unholy villainous stench. Unable to expel his human waste, he immediately took his leave. However as he walked out, a loo-queue had formed, at the front of which stood a young lady of some notoriety, the daughter of a popular writer hailing from an affluent area of South Manchester.

    Seeing her look of disdain as she drew the vile fragrance deep into her lungs, Goldman suffered a panic attack and went into a pathetic denial mode.

    “No, It wasn’t me! It was there before!”

    His cries for clemency fell on dead ears:

    “Yeah right,” “Sure thing,” “Whatever.”

    For years, he has been trying unsuccessfully to live down that moment, but until this very day, the name Michael Goldman is synonymous on the streets of Sale with “You dirty bastard.”

  5. That’s hilarious, Nick!

    Reminds me of a friend – who shall remain nameless . . . I am a better friend than you! – who was at a new girlfriend’s parents’ home for dinner, and blocked their toilet with a “log”.

    In spite of numerous pulls of the chain, it just wouldn’t budge.

    He ended up having to remove it with his hands, and smuggle it out of the house wrapped in toilet paper!

  6. In response to the author’s superb lavatorial posting, Kopaloff has astutely flushed out one of the great paradoxes of our post-modern Western society.

    Yesterday when we were young, the gents had an easily recognizable silhouette of a man and the ladies would have a totally dissimilar image of a lady, with long hair and a midi length skirt.

    In recent years, and with much more egalitarian but much less easily distinguishable signs, I have more than once found myself inadvertently entering the ladies. When I’m lucky I realize my mistake due to absence of urinals, if I’m less fortunate a member of the fairer sex may point out my mistake. On such occasions I mumble something about Alzheimer, laugh nervously trying to make out that I find the whole predicament quite hilarious and head for the door.

    So why are we so shocked to find ourselves in the ladies but quite comfortable with co-ed arrangements in other situations, not the least of which being private houses?

    I would have hoped that at least here Jews of all denominations could unite but in his insightful book “JEW VS. JEW” Samuel Freedman tells of five pious Conservative Jewish students who sued Yale University, claiming that the school was trampling on their irreligious beliefs by among other things forcing them to avail themselves of co-ed bathrooms. Freedman tells how Daniel Greer, father of one of the students, who had been a liberal aide to New York Mayor John Lindsay became disenchanted with government and liberalism in all its forms and finally was to become dean of the prestigious New Haven Yeshiva.

    The Lord truly does move in mysterious ways.

  7. A Blog on the Bog was obviously a blog too far for yet another PC Israeli woman taking herself too seriously.

    This morning, M (who I know personally) – like Noya before her – unsubscribed from melchett mike.

    Being the contrary soul that I am, however, I actually take such unsubscriptions, by such humourless bints, as a badge of honour for this blog.

    Daniel, I find your reference to the Lord’s “move[ments]” more than a little distasteful . . . especially following your (feigned?) apoplexy at Greg’s reference to Abraham as “Abie” (or such like).

    And, unlike you, Daniel, I experience no such displeasure at finding myself inside the ladies.

  8. Mike, Your smelly toilet anecdotes are like a breath of fresh air following the previous intense and exhaustive theological debate. Perhaps the latest unsubscriber “M,” is no other than the gentleman I refer to once again below.

    Michael Goldman is a multi-talented individual. But some of his talents, rather than being God-given, were developed sheerly through necessity.

    Once on camp, Michael was bursting for a shit but had no toilet paper available. Daniel Marks, holding a fat toilet roll, calculated his own projected monthly requirements and was then generous enough to spare Goldman one single sheet of toilet paper.

    And so begun Goldman’s initiation into the ancient oriental paper-folding art of “Origami,” or what he went on to call “Oridanslimy.”

  9. While that was not my intent when writing about G-d moving, the anthropomorphism did cross my mind on rereading, but I was sure that no intelligent blogger would make use it in a cheap attempt to raise a tittle. Nothing Mike has written would seem to contradict this early assumption.

    As far as your mentioning ancient patriarchal nick-names please be assured that I have long ago accepted Greg’s clarifications regarding the matter and, as our recent transliteration discourses bear eloquent witness, we are now the very best of friends.

    Finally, how thoughtful of Kopaloff to slowly reveal to his enthralled readers the various limbs of his friend Moshe Goldman’s great physique and their functions. If two weeks ago Goldman’s bountiful thighs were the topic of our contemplations, this week it is to be “What they are capable of”. As Greg himself might comment on reading this posting:

    “With friends like that, ….”

  10. Marks has made note of the contemporary obfuscation in lavatorial gender signs, causing him, on many an occasion, to inadvertently relieve himself in the Ladies.

    The last time this happened was as innocent as it was unfortunate. Marks was all flustered and confused by the large six-foot blue-neon-lighted sign reading “G-E-N-T-S” which flashed dazzlingly under the picture of the man with the bowler hat. This was in stark contrast to the counter sign in pink-flowering under the picture of the large-breasted skirted lady, which read “L-A-D-I-E-S”.

    And so Marks strayed into the LADIES, and he no doubt would have learnt the error of his ways, had he not bumped into Mike – and a good time was had by all.

  11. Will you guys, please stop taking the piss.

  12. In my younger days of all night clubbing, faced with a line around the bar for the ‘boys’ room, I’d remember my Hasmo/NW London Jewish roots, and nonchalantly stride into the women’s bathroom, in which of course, there was never a woman in sight. Perhaps, that’s what separates the Jews from the booze?

  13. Mark’s comment is not the cue for a discussion about homosexuality.

    I hereby issue a faggotwa . . . which will make the first person to “go there” a melchett mike Salman Rushdie!

  14. There is a solution to Mike’s embarrassment as he pumps his dump.

    Women have long known that a properly timed flush will mask all sorts of unpleasantness. However, given the current water shortage in our fair land, we certainly would not encourage this approach. Instead, Mike should consider buying himself an “Oto-hime” – http://www.boingboing.net/2008/06/03/gadget-in-japanese-p.html.

    Unfortunately, it does nothing to alleviate odors.

  15. Ingenius. (Jeez, I’ve got some sad readers! ;-))

    “Odours”, Laura?! I’m an English gentleman, I’ll have you know – we leave behind gentle aromas of summer meadows!

  16. “And so Marks strayed into the LADIES, and he no doubt would have learnt the error of his ways, had he not bumped into Mike – and a good time was had by all.”

    Kopaloff having mercilessly dishonored his best friend Goldman with vivid descriptions of the latter’s bowel movements, has now moved the focus of his attention to yours truly with his implication that I have, in fact, “cottaged” (had homosexual lavatorial relations) with the author of this excellent blog.

    Perhaps, I should have seen it coming. Had I been more zealous in my defense of Goldman’s honor (he has of yet posted no response of his own) the lesson may have been learnt earlier, I was not and now it is left to me to “prove that I have no sister” (it sounds better in Hebrew).

    However, I shall not, cannot stoop that low. Anyway, I have no doubt that denial would immediately be interpreted as proof of “guilt” or worse yet homophobia consequently I shall not do so (only the true messiah denies his divinity). If these are the meditations with which Kopaloff finds relief in his ever growing hours of need, so be it.

    Nor have I any idea who was Kopaloff’s source, but have taken note of his recent broken bread with Mike (NK’s treat), I can only speculate as to what was discussed over lunch.

    My surprise, therefore, is not at this classic Kopaloffian publication of the aforementioned “accusation” but at our host’s reluctance to expurgate it from this otherwise excellent blog. He is a bachelor, without doubt in his prime, whose mother reads melchettmike, apparently with a less enlightened outlook about such matters than her son or I. I, on the other hand, am an elderly father of four, married for a score and five years, long past my days of courting, in short, with what would seem to be far less to lose as a result of Kopaloff’s libelous fantasies. I can only deduce that, in an attempt to put an end to his well documented losing streak, Mike may have concluded that by way of his name being linked to mine and added to my short and sad list of exes, his worth as a potential heterosexual suitor might in some way increase.

    Let him be assured that nothing could be further from the truth. While maybe granting him short-lived notoriety, this fame would soon turn to infamy, and in time become a mark of Cain that I would wish on no man. By way of warning, I was yesterday told of the fate of one of my earliest of ladyfriends (when I was a lad of but 13). The lady, though a year my junior, is apparently a GREAT-GRANDMOTHER already – alas, still unmarried.

  17. Anthony Mammon

    sounds like a load of crap to me…. I can’t believe that even this blog has managed to drum up so many comments…. melchett mike you surely are a genius

  18. It’s not so great in the ‘ladies’ either. For a start, the women’s loos are always farther to walk to. Most people don’t notice this, but ladies, check it out and you’ll see. Another curse of womanhood courtesy of male architects.

    Mike – think how much you hate sitting on a public loo seat and console yourself you only need to use it max once a day for a poo. Unless a woman possesses the thighs of a Russian gymnast and can hover, we will be needing to sit on the piss sprayed seat thanks to the previous sweetie who DIDNT wipe the seatie.

    Please give me the strength, oh lord my god, to call out to the said ‘sweetie’, ideally in front of a queue of women “shall I wipe up your wee for you, you dirty moo ?”. One day…..

  19. Fascinating, Ms. Gold. Thank you. Finally, an intelligent response to the very serious issues raised in my original post.

    I respectfully beg to differ with your theory about the “hover[ing]” ability of “wom[e]n possess[ing] the thighs of a Russian gymnast” – I had a recent bad experience with an Eylat . . . who didn’t “hover” around too long for me.

    And two questions for you, Ms. G:

    1. How do you know that I am just a once-a-dayer?

    2. How does totty miss from there?!

    Come again, Ms. G, and rest assured that – unlike some of the other riff-raff on this blog – melchett mike is the type of man who will always give his seat up for a lady . . . but who will never leave it up.

  20. Well put, Mike. . .I don’t plug my ears but I do hold my breath!


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