Discovering a bat under your bare posterior can be traumatizing.
January 20, 2014 10:07 PM   Subscribe

posted by mazola at 10:18 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]

What Makes a Good Toilet?

1.) No bats.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 10:22 PM on January 20 [10 favorites]

Well, excuse me, but I distinctly heard that kid say this was the batroom.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:14 PM on January 20 [12 favorites]

I have used quite a few pit latrines in my day, and a few of them I even dug myself. They're certainly adequate for the task and, if every toilet I used for the rest of my life magically turned into a pit latrine as soon as I arrived, I don't think my general happiness would be much affected.

That said, I write this from my room in a luxury hotel in Tokyo, so my outlook may be coloured. Compared to the toilet in my suite, every other toilet I have ever used has basically been a pit latrine.
posted by 256 at 11:50 PM on January 20 [5 favorites]

2.) No wasps, hornets or bees.
posted by Pudhoho at 11:51 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]

In terms of horrifying things to see in a pit latrine, I will see you a family of bats and raise you a group of expectant looking piglets.
posted by rongorongo at 12:41 AM on January 21 [7 favorites]

Discovering a bat under your bare posterior can be traumatizing

Kind of sub-optimal for the bat, too.
posted by Segundus at 1:29 AM on January 21 [12 favorites]

I have to say, I have discovered FAAAAR worse things under my posterior than a bat.

Not gonna name names.
posted by louche mustachio at 3:05 AM on January 21

Asian bidets ruin all other toilets., bats or not.
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:11 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]

rongorongo -I think the bats may still win, as pigs can't actually fly.

posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:23 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]

Word to the wise.
If you're in Africa and using one of those hole-in-the-ground affairs, don't look down inside the hole. The brown river moving along below you is not a river. Not only does it not consist of water, it's also alive.

On the other hand:
I was in a toilet in Senegal once (it was also the shower, if you brought a bucket of water with you and a cup to pour it over yourself) that had very few flies, and no cockroaches at all.

Why was that, you ask? I think it must have been because of the frogs.
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:33 AM on January 21

What Makes a Good Toilet?

Poop goes in, nothing comes out.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:34 AM on January 21 [9 favorites]

One morning, I was at the mechanic getting my car serviced when nature called. The restroom was very small, and designed for one person at a time. It was also equipped with all the modern restroom accouterments, including one of those motion sensor toilets and a light that automatically turned on when it detected someone entering the room.

So, I am sitting there, doing my business, and utilizing one of those paper seat covers, when the lights went out, which led me to wave my arms to try to get the sensor to turn the lights back on. Yet when I did, the toilet interpreted it as me standing up, which made it flush, and when it flushed, it pulled the seat over out from beneath me like a magician ripping off a tablecloth.

It was a pretty amazing toilet.
posted by 4ster at 5:52 AM on January 21 [5 favorites]

If you're in Africa and using one of those hole-in-the-ground affairs, don't look down inside the hole. The brown river moving along below you is not a river. Not only does it not consist of water, it's also alive.


what is it

what is the moving brown river
posted by threeants at 6:50 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]

It was a pretty amazing toilet.

I've know a couple people that drove a couple hundred miles mainly for the chance to use this toilet that was known to be in some fancy restaurant.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I've dug a few latrines in my time, though none outside the midwestern United States, and was taught that frogs were actually one the best things to see when one is judging the quality and safety of a latrine. Sure, you still have to check for bats, snakes, and other critters, but having frogs present means a lower chance of venomous spiders which are damn good at hiding and can be easily missed in a cursory check when one is, shall we say, in a bit of a hurry.
posted by chambers at 7:32 AM on January 21

what is it

I'm afraid that it's cockroaches all the way down. Sorry...
posted by Too-Ticky at 7:37 AM on January 21

One day last summer, I came home from work to find a dead rat in my toilet.

Actually, that's not quite true. I came home from work to be downstairs when my wife found a dead rat in the toilet and immediately freaked right the fuck out. The rat had drowned; we keep our toilet lid down all the time to keep the cat and the dog from drinking their fill, and I figure the lid being down kept the rat from getting out, so he must have scrabbled around in there until he drowned (if the lid had been up, he would have gotten out and been massacred by our dog, which, man I hate to think of what the aftereffects of that would have looked like). As it is, I assume he must have made noise thrashing around in there, and our pets must have been sitting in the bathroom trying to figure out what the fuck was going on.

The internet will tell you that if you put a bunch of dish soap in the water to act as a lubricant, you can flush a dead rat back down. This is not true.

I wound up sacrificing a good pair of pasta tongs getting the rat out, and then hustled him out to the trash. It took me weeks to be able to sit on a toilet without panicky feelings that there was a rat - dead or maybe even alive - under me.

posted by COBRA! at 7:37 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]

the ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrine

Excuse me, which way to the VIP room?
posted by yohko at 8:13 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]

A rat in the toilet under a toddler can set potty training back for years. Or so I've heard.

The best outhouse ever was my brother in law's, who built it near his hand built house on an island in Canada. It was an open A-frame affair with a comfortable box seat in the middle. One's privacy came from the forest on one side and the tree framed view on the other. A light breeze tinkled the wind chimes and crushed oyster shells lined the path to guide the nighttime visitor.

It was still an outhouse mind you, but a lovely place.

The foundation gave way under me one day, at the beginning of a week long visit, and you would never again see someone bolt so fast off a toilet seat. Repairs became the project of the week, and a week of using the wild woods for personal needs severely strengthened my appreciation for the outhouse the day it re opened.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:29 AM on January 21 [3 favorites]

I very much enjoy the phrasing of "at the beginning of a week long visit." I hope you had lots of reading material!
posted by Earthtopus at 8:41 AM on January 21

I would take a well-maintained outhouse over a lot of other allegedly modern restrooms I have seen around the world, the worst of which was a squat toilet in a public restroom in a hospital outside Beijing, which had a tower of shit so high that to use it without making shit contact would require stilts.

i have no idea how it got so high without people using stilts, actually, and now i am doubly horrified
posted by elizardbits at 8:49 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]

tinkled the wind chimes

Can you say "eponysterical" if the pun is a reflection on subject matter rather than someone's name?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:58 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]

All the outhouse hatred in the world will go away when I reveal the outhouse I'm building to replace the dumpy ol' three-holer at my ruinous retreat in the mountains. Aside from issues of poverty, which doesn't give one many options, an outhouse is as unpleasant or pleasant as the builder makes it. When they're shambling, not tightly constructed, not vented properly, and just lazy, sloppy products of lazy, sloppy thinking, they're terrible, but when they're good, they can be a lovely respite.

My current outhouse has its problems, principally being a surfeit of wolf spiders that enjoy going on walkabout or dangling from one's bottom whilst one is reading a collection of science fiction short stories, but it's situated so that, if no one's around and you are comfortable leaving the door open, it has the best view of the train tracks and the river valley on my property. Even in a bad outhouse, though, you have solitude, the freedom to produce whatever noises and aromatic efflorescences that nature requires, and you don't produce a plume of particles that drift on the currents in your home settle in your tea towels. I sometimes wonder why it's not weird to people to shit inside the house like a housecat, but I'm clearly in the lower percentile on such matters.

When my dream outhouse is done, though, y'all are invited.
posted by sonascope at 9:21 AM on January 21

I probably have my facts wrong, but I vaguely remember a story told to me about a guy who thought something was living in his rather deep outhouse pit one summer night in the late '70s-early '80s, and came upon the idea that he could fill the pit with CO2 by emptying a CO2 tank with a hose dropped halfway down the hole and the lack of oxygen would kill whatever was in there to protect him from being bitten by whatever was inside.

However, two things happened. Firstly, the CO2 displaced the methane, pushing the methane upward, and into the outhouse, which caused the mantles of his gas lantern to over-burn and cause a small explosion that popped off the top of the lantern, plunging him into darkness. The sound caused him to drop the tank down the hole and he tripped and fell over onto the outhouse floor.

This was not the worst of it, though. With the lantern out, he barely had time to be thankful that the fuel canister didn't explode before he heard the sounds. He could clearly hear, but barely see, the mass exodus of dozens of various creatures running and/or flying for their lives exiting the pit through the toilet seat. He got bitten by several different creatures as he was trying to escape the outhouse, and after a long series of rabies shots, vowed never to go into an outhouse again.
posted by chambers at 10:25 AM on January 21 [5 favorites]

No way! I served in the Peace Corps with the guy who wrote this. Now I feel bad about all those wine bottles I tossed in my pit latrine. He shoulda said something to me.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 11:26 AM on January 21

why is anything involving poo and toilets so damn funny
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:26 AM on January 21

I have just remembered that one of my favorite lesser-known trad-rock groups wrote a song that may apply here.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:30 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]

What was their civilisation? Vast, I allow: but vile. Cloacae: sewers. The Jews in the wilderness and on the mountaintop said: It is meet to be here. Let us build an altar to Jehovah. The Roman Peace Corps Volunteer, like the Englishman who follows in his footsteps, brought to every new shore on which he set his foot (on our shore he never set it) only his cloacal obsession. He gazed about him in his toga t-shirt and cargo pants and he said: It is meet to be here. Let us construct a watercloset.
posted by drlith at 12:53 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]

Don't look down the toilet
posted by asok at 3:56 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]

Now I feel bad about all those wine bottles I tossed in my pit latrine. He shoulda said something to me.

People have been throwing trash into pit toilets for as long as we've had pit toilets, so nowadays the archeologists love digging them up for a view of the past (as do people looking for old bottles to sell on Ebay). There's nothing wrong with tossing embarrassing stuff down there (like bottles, tampons, birth control packages, or used condoms) as long as it isn't super toxic -- you need bacterial and worm action to break the poop down into nice rich soil, so pouring in old pesticides and used motor oil and so on can cause long term issues.

The only real problem with throwing in those hundreds of wine bottles is that it fills up the pit faster, so that either you will need to dig a new toilet, or you will need to pay someone to come and empty out your current pit and the bottles make that a job harder. (This is for a traditional pit toilet, dug into the ground. Fancy "eco" composting toilets get shoveled out much more frequently and filling them with trash can have bad effects as well as making it harder to reuse the compost.)
posted by Dip Flash at 5:52 PM on January 21

Don't look down the toilet


So... it's just coming at you like a 3D movie?

This should be a featured front-cover item on a Neiman Marcus catalog as a "Narcissistic thrill ride that puts you in a league beyond the common navel-gazer"

I'm amazed this wasn't invented in the 17th or 18th century by some doctor/mad scientist back when balancing the four humors was a big thing.

The real fascinating part of this to me is the process of discovery of this device by a random user. Imagine an unsuspecting person comes in, looks around at this weird bathroom, sees the binoculars and assumes someone left them there by accident, investigates the strange toilet to see if this odd-looking, perhaps foreign device works like a normal toilet, then seeing the mirror box on the opposite wall that they assumed at first glance to be a perhaps a hand dryer, and slowly putting all the clues together and then the realization hits them of what the thing's purpose really is.

And then the question arises - do they look? The battle between natural human curiosity against the tag team of inherited and learned behaviors regarding human waste begins.
posted by chambers at 6:40 PM on January 21

Ayurvedics would probably like it! However, pit toilets are not ideal for mala assessment.

slowly putting all the clues together and then the realization hits them of what the thing's purpose really is

All of the cubicles in the unisex toilet by the absinthe bar at the entrance to the museum have some 'installation' in them, but this one was very popular. In my case I didn't need to avail myself of it's services so I could sidestep the usage issue and move straight into hilarity.
posted by asok at 2:03 AM on January 22

And then there's the three sea shells. Seriously, what's with that?!
posted by Too-Ticky at 4:03 AM on January 22

Poop goes in, nothing comes out.

I'd make the rule a bit more explicit, something like "Nothing larger than poop goes in, etc." Wasn't a problem for me when I did Peace Corps in Burkina Faso, where I only ever encountered concrete covered pits. But for a particular colleague of mine staying with a family in Togo, whose pit was only covered with old wood ....
posted by solotoro at 10:38 AM on January 22

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