The Eternal Lure of the Loo

toilet 2

Today marks the beginning of National Toilet Tank Repair Month. This is a U.S. designation, undoubtedly formulated by powerful forces within the American plumbing lobby.

People in the toilet business are always quick to point out that a leaky toilet can waste a lot of water. They urge all of us to check our water control diaphragms..the flapper..with the aim of keeping everything universally tight and right. They’d also like us to buy more efficient toilets. I suggest we all stop guzzling bottled water, which could cut the number of flushes in half.

I live in fear of toilet tanks. I am one of the people who turns the water valves off on every toilet before we leave home on vacation. There are horror stories of what happens when a toilet tank cracks and there’s nobody home to stem the tide. That is not going to happen to me.

I must confess that toilets are rarely out of my thoughts. I may have done more television stories about toilets (and let’s not forget urinals) than any other topic in more than 30 years of broadcasting.

Most of the really advanced toilet technology these days is coming out of Japan. Someone once demonstrated for me a new Japanese unit that seemed to sense your very presence on the seat. I believe there may have been some kind of laser-guided device which aimed a nozzle at your frozzle and gently power-washed you squeaky clean.  A sudden jet of warm air then evaporated all remaining moisture as surely as a balmy Bermudian breeze.

But my favorite toilet stories have not been about hygienic seat sleeves or lullaby-playing trainer potties. My favorites have always taken me back to the basics…and that is the venerable outhouse.



People get very nostalgic about the old thunderbox, they really do. They remember the frantic dash from the back door in all kinds of weather. They recall whether it was a one-holer or two. They know what periodicals were available out in in the library of the latrine.

What they may not recall, in addition to the obvious, is all the stuff that went down the hole.

There was a man I interviewed in the Kootenay region of British Columbia who was an avid bottle collector. He had thousands of bottles, some made of the most amazing iridescent glass and he had spent the better part of his adult life in search of new finds. There is an undeniable aesthetic to a weathered glass vessel. Let’s call it the lure of the patina. This particular collector told me that his most productive hunting ground for rare bottles was the abandoned pit of any old outhouse. Understand, this is long after the bloom is off the rose. With the passing years what goes below simply turns to dirt.

They find everything in the old pits….bottles, china, silverware, even jewelry. It’s a treasure trove for a growing legion of privy archeologists who seek a tangible measure of posterity where only posteriors once roamed.

What does any of this have to do with National Toilet Tank Repair Month? Not much. But it’s also the start of National Spinach Lovers’ Month…and I just couldn’t get started.


One Response to “The Eternal Lure of the Loo”

  1. Wayne Cox Says:

    David, old friend,
    While I’m fascinated by your fascination with the loo, I’m more intrigued with the horror stories of the toilets that crack when nobody is home! Is this a phenomenon like spontaneous combustion?
    Could this be a blog subject all its own?

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