October 13th, 2007

The high-rise blues

Glowing toilet seatIt’s time to broach an unpleasant subject: public toilet seats sprinkled with pee. This is caused by women who refuse to sit while urinating and instead hover above the toilet, thus soiling the seat and forcing successive users to adopt the same uncomfortable high-rise position. It’s a problem in all public ladies’ rooms, but particularly those in bars, where trips to the toilet are more frequent. Rock clubs, where I go to see drinkboston.com contributor Scott Howe’s band the Hammond Group, are especially notorious; their bathrooms are heavily trafficked and dimly lit — a bad combo for anyone hoping to keep her bum dry.

We can’t chalk up the annoying behavior of high-risers to alcohol and darkness alone, however. It really stems from an old-fashioned, entrenched, completely unfounded belief that toilet seats are breeding grounds for infectious diseases. To all you dainty dolls afraid to park your precious derrieres on a toilet seat that others’ backsides have touched, I say this: you want to see a breeding ground for infectious disease? Look at your desk. Microbiologists have found four hundred times more illness-causing bacteria on the typical office desktop, with its germ-filled computer keyboard, mouse and phone receiver, than on most toilet seats. Hands, which are out in the world touching everything, and not bums, which are covered by clothing all day, pass the vast majority of bacteria that make people sick. So worry more about the faucet handle in the bathroom than the toilet seat, princess.

Howard Heller, an M.D. and infectious disease specialist at MIT Medical, says, “It’s very difficult to get sick from a toilet seat. A little extra caution might be warranted if one is traveling in an area where enteric infections like cholera are more common.”

In other words, if you find yourself in a public restroom in Angola, you may want to play it safe and hover. Otherwise, sit down on the damn toilet. Please. I mean it. My thighs are killing me.

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9 Responses to “The high-rise blues”

  1. Br. Cleve

    Actually, in Angola there would be no seat – just the hole in the ground, possibly with the porcelain ‘footprints of doom’, as Frank Zappa called them, on the floor to show you where to stand (just in case you’re having trouble figuring it out!!). The French like to call them “Turkish Toilets”; I’m not sure what they call them in Istanbul! France, Italy, Spain, et al don’t have overwraught sewage systems, so you will find some TP there. But for the rest of the world, you get either a faucet of a little bucket full of water. Nice hotels and lounges in places like India have a spray hose, like the one on your sink. Maybe this is what American Ladies Rooms need?? Or maybe one could just reverse what girls like to tell the boys : “Put the damn seat up”!

  2. M Burns

    Finally, someone has said it, and it is the bodacious Lauren Clark….I read this nodding my head and saying YES, YES,…..I want to tear down all the cutesy signs in public restrooms that say “if you sprinkle when you tinkle be a sweetie and wipe the seatie” and replace them with SIT DOWN ON THE FUCKING SEAT!!

  3. ljclark

    Cleve — well, aren’t we just the expert on international plumbing! Yes, a spray hose. Or a glow-in-the-dark toilet that sounds a loud, embarrassing alarm when someone’s backside hovers above it.

  4. ljclark

    M Burns — wa-hoo! I sense a business opportunity.

  5. pinky gonzales

    THANKS drinkboston!! I’ve been pissed-off (huh huh) forever by this one! To all dainty lady germophobes out there, here are my two cents: I promise, from all the 52,959,000 toilet seats on which I have certainly sat in my lifetime, including the Denny’s I-90 restroom outside of Angola NY, I have never contracted any disease of the ass. OK?

  6. Hanky P.

    Let us not forget the dangers of the unisex bathroom and the men who don’t have the strength to raise the toilet seat while not having the best aim in the world. Experienced it tonight…due to the lack of flushing and the lack of toilet paper I feel quite confident pointing the gender finger in this case. Come now boys…a bit of help please…

  7. ljclark

    Eeewwww. I forgot about that. Yeah, seriously, boys. It seems we need loud, embarrassing anti-sprinkle alarms in the unisex bathrooms, too.

  8. laura k

    Oh, seriously. This is my constant lament, and yes, I’ve contemplated making stickers or signs to carry around with me and put up in any bathroom where some silly, silly girl has been before me.

  9. Appellation Beer: Beer From a Good Home » Blog Archive » Government lies and other good beer reading

    […] High-rise blues This is among my favorite posts of the year. Lauren Clark tackles an unpleasant subject and writes about women who refuse to sit while urinating in public toilets, instead hovering above the toilet and leaving it sprinkled with pee. There’s also an educational takeaway for those of us who don’t use the women’s room. “Microbiologists have found four hundred times more illness-causing bacteria on the typical office desktop, with its germ-filled computer keyboard, mouse and phone receiver, than on most toilet seats.” […]

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