2000 Flushes

The Double-Flush
We've all encountered them (maybe you are one): women who flush the toilet when they step into the stall in a public facility. As a child of the California desert, and a sailor, the water waste offends me. But IÕd like to get past that to consider what motivates some women to pre-flush in public.

Women are, as women know but hate to admit, public toilet slobs. The very nature of feminine hygiene is somewhat to blame, it's more complicated and requires more accoutrements. But it doesn't excuse lapses in common courtesy, like making sure the tissue seat cover actually flushes and isnÕt left half in the bowl and half on the floor for the next gal. And need I say more than "squat splashback"? (Well, maybe I do -- you know, when you squat instead of sitting for fear of what's on the seat, and the extra elevation caused more splash.)>

Most women, on entering a public toilet, are like the mom I heard guiding her young daughter in the public facility at a Utah ski resort, "Don't touch anything. It's filthy. Don't let your clothes touch the wet ground! No, I'll flush it with my foot . . ." And Utah's toilets, even in the ones drenched in melted snow and sprinkled with gravel in the ski base lodges, are infinitely cleaner than the typical New York restaurant john on a good day.

>No wonder women approach strange toilets with trepidation. But I'm still at a loss to understand how flushing before you use it helps. Assuming the last person flushed (and actually took note of whether the flush was effective – but most women, seeing an unflushed toilet, will move on the next if they possibly can) how does changing the water in the bowl improve the public toilet experience? Do they do it at home, too? How long does it take their toilets at home to refill?

The Courtesy Flush
Like so many of society's dirty little habits, Jerry Seinfeld brought the courtesy flush to light in his sitcom. I don't recall the specific episode, but George was undoubtedly involved. ItÕs another public toilet requirement, aimed at making the experience a little more pleasant for everyone. WeÕve all been there, maybe it was something we ate, or a particularly stressful day. But the courtesy is not to be confused with . . .

The Cover-up Flush
This is a distinct variation on the courtesy flush, intended to cover up embarrassing sounds so that the unfortunate perpetrator doesn't have to slink out of the restroom hiding her face, or wait until nobody else is around before coming out of the stall. Some women, even when experiencing intestinal discomfort, will hang on until they can use someone else's flush for cover. This is particularly impressive, given the circumstances.

The Inspirational Flush
Distant cousin of the childish prank of putting a sleeping person's hand in a cup of warm water. Sometimes your body just need a little encouragement.