Friday, November 14, 2008

Baby Alligators, Toilet Seats and the Helm #4

I was just in Miami and saw a wild baby alligator in a lagoon. Not that it was particularly impressive or anything, but alligators are deadly creatures and I don't expect to see them swimming around outside of high rise office complexes. That would be like seeing a wild baby tiger running around in the mall, or having a baby great white shark bite your foot while sitting at a public fountain.

Okay, maybe not exactly.

Anyway, I was standing in the bathroom at work, thinking about baby alligators, when it suddenly occurred to me that the toilet seat was U-shaped rather than a complete oval. Now, I've seen this particular toilet seat hundreds of times over the last several years and never really noticed how it was U-shaped rather than oval, but for some reason, it registered this time. Which got me wondering why some toilet seats are U-shaped and others are oval. As I thought about it, it occurred to me that I mostly saw U-shaped toilet seats in public restrooms and mostly ovals at people's houses. So, my first thought was that the U-shaped seats were probably cheaper to make and consequently more attractive to the folks putting together public bathrooms. A quick survey of a handful of public restrooms revealed that ALL of them had U-shaped toilet seats--even one in a really expensive and upscale restaurant. That made me question the validity of my "cheapest option" conclusion. So, I did a little Internet research and discovered that United States plumbing code specifies that public restrooms have to used "open front" toilet seats! Yes! It's the law!! But why?

Well, apparently, they are considered both more sanitary and more comfortable. I'm not sure exactly how the sanitary thing works out--especially in women's public restrooms--nor am I really clear on how the comfortable thing works out--but those are the given reasons.

Anyway, while researching the issue, I stumbled across a site with details of the first time a toilet was ever shown on American broadcast television. It was on what was supposed to be the first episode of Leave it to Beaver, "Captain Jack." The episode actually got shelved for a while by the censors who refused to let a toilet be depicted on television. It aired after they compromised by shooting a single tight shot of the tank only. And why was a toilet part of the story at all? Well, the plot involved Wally and the Beaver trying to hide a BABY ALLIGATOR from their parents by keeping it in their toilet tank.

That's right, a baby alligator! Holy crap!! Too much for coincidence.

Oh, and the Helm #4 comes out next Wednesday! No alligators, no U-shaped toilet seats, no episodes of Leave it to Beaver, but it is the exciting conclusion of the mini-series! Be sure to check it out.

1 comment:

Tracy said...

Oh dear, I too have public toilet seat drama. I have never particularly liked those long seats, why not have an oval seat that open at the front. I always felt my butt had a little less leverage on these things.

But in recent years it's gotten worse, now those long gawd awful seats are also form fitting and make ridiculous attempts at HUGGING my butt. There is way too much surface contact with the seats, ickkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk!