When You Really Need to Go

Welcome to my random musings about the world, on a weekly-to-occasional basis.

Where we are: Montevideo, Uruguay. I’m hanging out with a knitting tour this week, communing with sheep and dying yarn.

When You Really Need to Go

It would be difficult to overestimate the challenges bathrooms present in our lives, or the importance of overcoming those challenges.

I have strong opinions about bidets, fancy toilets, and my personal favorite: the butt-blaster. We have a friend who calls it the bum gun. Either way, it’s a hose next to the toilet. It’s so, so, important. I’m not sure when or why we Americans stepped away from the use-water-to-wash-your-butt school of thought, but Lee has an effective analogy: if you got excrement on your hands, would you just wipe it off with a paper towel?

You have to admit, he has a point.

I’ve been known to post pix of toilet controls on Facebook. I’ve been known to send people reviews of bidet brands. I’ve been known to go to a specific mall purely because of the toilets.

I’ve been known to fake my way into a Ritz Carlton just to use a clean toilet.

I’ve been known to wax poetic about the joys of a clean backside.

And if you’ve ever seen a guy take a shit on the sidewalk—same guy, same sidewalk, multiple days—you’ll understand why.

If you’ve seen a guy tie up a bag full of shit and toss it over a cliff, into the Atlantic, you’ll understand why. (Just remember that image next time you go to the beach. You’re welcome.)

If you’ve ever clogged the toilet in a hotel room, only to find out the hotel had to send someone out to buy a plunger, you’ll understand why.

If yesterday’s street food has ever decided to make an explosive exit on a bus ride—no matter how long or short the ride—you’ll understand.

If Montezuma has ever had his Revenge when the only facility you could access was a rickety wooden outhouse, you’ll understand.

But most of all, if you yourself have ever yelled “Stop the car! I can’t wait any longer! Keep watch for lions!”—you’ll understand why I spend so much time fretting over the toilet situation, whatever it happens to be.

It makes sense, really, when you think about it. Sanitation is actually one of the most basic developments that has allowed humans to flourish. On the life necessity list, getting rid of waste is pretty damn important.

From my Writer’s Notebook:

We’ll start with a couple of tidbits about one of the world’s most famous paintings: Edvard Munch’s The Scream. There’s debate about why the atmosphere in the painting is so foreboding, but some experts think Munch may have been influenced by the world-wide weather conditions created by the 1883 eruption of the Indonesian volcano Krakatoa. As someone who is utterly convinced volcanoes will be the end of us all, I find this a particularly believable interpretation. (Tangential, but equally interesting: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was written under similar conditions, during the fallout from the 1815 eruption of Krakatoa, another Indonesian volcano. I wonder: when we look back on the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjalla-whatever in Iceland, will we remember a great artistic flowering, or massive flight cancellations?)

Anyway—The Scream was stolen from Norway’s National Gallery in 1994, in a particularly brazen heist, during the opening ceremony of the Lillehammer Olympics. It was eventually recovered, and there’s a particularly interesting book about the agent from Scotland Yard who played a pivotal role in solving the crime: The Rescue Artist, by Edward Dolnick. The high-drama caper details are nicely blended with historical information and personalities.

And if you happen to be going to Norway this summer, a new Munch museum is opening in Oslo. The building is an event in and of itself.

Take care,

Lisa

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