Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Dilemma In Porcelain

There it was, glaring up at me with that fierce and uncompromising glare that only an eyeless porcelain object has. It looked like a toilet - it seemed like a toilet - but what, in fact, was it?

I stood, gripped in the claws of a vicious dilemma!

But let me explain, dear reader. Moments earlier, I had been sitting at the front of the cafe, with my brother and his girlfriend. "The toilet's up the back," said my brother. "It's hard to find," then he gave me a series of directions which I can hardly remember. (I was drunk: I think I had drunk one too many coffees).
I struggled to the back of the cafe, where there was a small hole in the wall covered by a wooden door; through this I pushed my way. I felt already that I had transgressed an indefinable boundary; I had gone where none but the staff could tread. I found myself in a hallway of doors and corners; to the end of this hallway a door opened out on the lane. A member of the staff sat in this open doorway, perhaps having a cigarette. I shuddered, dreading what would happen if she turned around. Perhaps she would say hello! And then, what would I do? I would have no other choice than to say hello back!

I stood, gripped in the claws of a vicious dilemma!

Finally, I found the toilet - it was, indeed, but a small niche in the wall, which led into another niche.
There was a lady there.
I looked to the wall for a sign: there was no sign.
It was a unisex toilet. Or was it?
"Er... um... oooh" I muttered in a quavering voice. "Is this the guy's toilet?"
"I don't know. It might be." said the lady, (in tones surely portending some horrible fate). She wiped her hands on a paper towel and walked past me.
What sort of a toilet was this?

I stood, gripped in the (etc, etc, etc)!

I fumbled my way inwards and closed the door, putting the lock on. I stared down at the toilet. It stared up at me. Was this, indeed, one of those men's toilets, the ones that I had been accustomed to dealing with over the long years, or something else entirely?

I think I thought the toilet was going to attack me. What would I do if that happened? Have you ever been attacked by a toilet? Has anyone you know ever been attacked by a toilet? If such an eventuality did happen, I was surely doomed!

(Stood, claws, vicious dilemma, etc)


Minutes later I struggled out of the niche in the wall. My hands may or may not have been dirty. My eyes could or could not have been wild. My hair was possibly, or possibly was not, unkempt. I may or may not have been dripping with water. I went back to the table at the front of the cafe where L and L were waiting for me.

"Did you enjoy your cake?" said the waitress.

I sat, gripped in the claws of a vicious dilemma!


Karen said...

I know exactly what you mean- I'm always unnerved by that awkward little scurry you have to do because you don't know that you're not going somewhere you're not supposed to go. I think I'd probably have a panic attack if there was a unisex toilet at the end of it. A month ago a man accidently (I assume!) walked into the women's change room at the gym and, although fully clothed, I discretely hid around the corner until he figured it out for himself.
What upsets me most is if there's a bidet or, worse still, one of those toilets that are in the ground (which, I admit, I've only encountered at Tokyo airport).

Darlene said...

Somethings wrong with your blog. It looks strange.

TimT said...

Fiddling around with blog templates. I'm going to whack a few links up the top soon so people can navigate a bit quicker. I like it, or maybe I just like the pipe-smoking-typing baby.

Karen - also the 'air towels' or 'air pillows' they have at Japanese airports (upside down hot-air dryers). But then, Japanese toilets are a whole new world of freakiness.

Karen said...

I didn't remember the "air pillows". I must have blocked out the bad memory. The freakiness can be endured when the payoff of a Tokyo stop-over is Japanese chocolate!
The hand dryer at Fox Studios has a video screen on it and ads come on while you dry your hands. For some reason I find this overwhelmingly intrusive.

alexis said...

Have you seen Trainspotting? The toilets are tough in Glasgow.

TimT said...

My brother had a comparable toilet once, when he worked in Serpentine.

Red reportedly has a toilet that is beyond compare!

Charles Murton said...

I once ate at an Indian restaurant which had two doors at the rear, and over them a sign, TOILET TROUGH DOOR ON RIGHT.

So count yourself lucky, Tim.

I have also encountered a hand dryer in the toilet of a restaurant, with a list of instructions. Someone had textad at the bottom:

4. Wipe hands on trousers.

Steve said...

With all this toilet related drama, I want to know if you are a paruresis sufferer. No one wanted to admit it over at my blog. Come out of the stall and admit it, if you dare.

Charles Murton said...

I am! I use the dunny if possible - I just can't stand some oaf standing next to me at the urinal, and it's a real pain when he produces a stream that would put out a bushfire, and I'm standing there and nothing is happening.

And at the exact moment when he's leaving somebody else always comes in.

TimT said...

Oh, that's what Steve's talking about! I don't use the urinals at work, I use the toilets, get a little bit more privacy. So yeh, I'll fess up to that.

I wonder if in old Aussie workplaces they had a tin wall?

Email: timhtrain - at -

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