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I wonder if  people will eventually stop traveling because of toilets…or lack thereof? After all, one of life’s most basic needs may be the hardest to meet in foreign countries. Especially if McDonald’s hasn’t arrived there.

Although,  I’ve noticed that some people are camels. They can go all day and wait until they get home to even think about a toilet. They probably travel until they die.

I’m more like a dog. I check out the services immediately wherever I go…just in case. I’ll have to stop traveling when I can no longer do deep knee bends and squats.

My first trip abroad was to Hong Kong. No problem there. We were with a tour and had a classy hotel. Until we went to China. “Wear a skirt”, they warned us. “You don’t want to worry about pant legs in the restrooms.”

I followed directions but pant legs would have been the least of my worries. The culture shock had more impact.

From using the bathroom at my friend’s house to flushing the toilet in an apartment in Southern Italy, it’s a dicey road at best.

I could cite all sorts of bathroom stories but you all have your own memories. My most compassionate memory is of my son at about four years old when a neighbor’s toilet backed up as he flushed it. I can’t tell you how old he was the next time he got the nerve to pull the lever again.

Give any one of us a couple of drinks and we’ll start sharing our deep-seated (no pun intended) fears of toilets. It’s because they can’t be trusted. Flush a toilet 10 times and anything in it will go down willingly and without a sputter. Push the handle on the 11th time and it may do anything from fill with water to the top of the bowl, splash water all over the seat as if you dripped on it, gurgle twice and refuse to fill with water at all, or just go limp handled; rattling without action.

How do you know when you enter a bathroom whether it’s time for tricks? You don’t. And so, according to your timing and your particular state of mind when nature calls, you may be asking calmly for a plunger, screaming for your friend to come quickly, or slipping out the door.

Then there’s the tingling fear of the first time you use a toilet in an unknown, slightly suspect bathroom.

Personally, I have a thing with toilet seats, too. You’ve all heard the stories of my pink padded toilet seat in Mexico that’s too small for the bowl. No matter how carefully I sat on it, the seat wedges itself into the bowl. There’s something a bit smarmy about a padded seat, isn’t there? so I have long since learned to sit on the cold hard bowl.

Well, guess what! When I arrived at my lovely B & B in Italy, it was again the case of the slithering toilet seat. The entire seat apparatus was just a teeny bit too small for the bowl. I say it had a bit of trouble stabilizing itself. The truth is, I was the one with the problem and I gave up. Back to the cold hard bowl.

Now I face the terror of the toilet in my apartment. I noticed when I checked out the bathroom that on first look it was hard to tell the toilet from the bidet. No seat! (I later located the seat behind the pedestal sink.) The second thing I noticed was that water was running constantly into the bowl. It wasn’t just a trickle. I didn’t really know how to address the running water question and the landlady didn’t seem concerned about her water bill, so I let it go.

It’s a long way from the living area so I can’t hear it all day and night. Also, it saves flushing…I mean, a quick pee is gone in minutes…why waste even more water.

Ah, but the terrorist toilet prevails. In addition to the cold hard seat issue, it went on strike and refused to take toilet paper down. I pretended I was in Mexico and put a bag near the toilet for used paper. I’m afraid to eat fiber. I’ve pored through my tourist Italian books looking for the language relating to plugged toilets just in case. No luck. 

I considered walking back and forth in front of my favorite coffee shop until I want to use their toilet. But it’s a long way away and a 120 stair steps each way.

This toilet plays with me. (On my fourth flush the toilet paper went down.)

But I keep my eye it. I’m talking sweetly to it, too. Is toilet language universal? Nice toilet. Be good. Just flush for a couple more weeks and I’ll be gone.

Next stop…