Friday, January 7, 2011

This is a post about toilets.

Our apartment adopts what I would generously call a minimalist approach to bathrooms. Minimalist in the sense that there are some things usually considered essential to the nature of bathrooms — toilets, for instance — which simply do not exist in some bathrooms in our house.

I have documented my feelings about my apartment’s bathrooms before on this blog. In fact, I mentioned my toilet in the very first post I wrote in China. In that post, I note that one of our bathrooms, in place of a toilet, has only a ghastly enameled red hole which you flush with hose and a large bucket of water placed next to the hole at all times. This, I feel, is insufficient.

Later, last February, I told you about my shower. The designers of my apartment, presumably in an attempt to ape the voguish open floor plans of contemporary American homes, did away with the customary distinction between “inside the shower” and “outside the shower” and decided to just turn the bathroom into a shower by affixing a nozzle to the wall and drilling a hole in the floor.

shower (not

Now, I know it may seem surprising, but things have taken a marked turn for the worse.

As you can see from the above photo, there is a real toilet in this bathroom. And even though it is temperamental and requires very gentle treatment, it usually does exactly what I ask of it: to carry my waste products away from me in a way that does not require my squatting over a hole in my floor.

Well, no longer! No longer does it perform this function in an acceptable manner. It continues to function as a receptacle for waste products. And, strangely enough, it still carries them away to the sewers of Guangzhou and then straight into the sea. The problem is the middle part: when I flush, the water does not flow down the pipes, but instead flows out the back of the toilet and on to the floor. But luckily, my shower is my bathroom! So then the waste water just goes down the shower drain! And everything’s fine. Except for the fact that the contents of my toilet are now all over my shower floor. Which, to recap, is also my bathroom.

As much as I enjoy this — not to put too fine a point on it — Rube Goldberg shit sandwich, I would prefer that things no longer happen this way. My guy says, since it’s Friday, it probably won’t be fixed until Monday. This really isn’t great news for me, but it is great news for my squat toilet, which, Cinderella to our normal toilet’s Ugly Stepsister, will finally get to shine at the palace ball after being neglected for all these years. “Shine”, here, meaning “be defecated into.”