Friday, July 17, 2009

Please be "seated"

What do Italians have against toilet seats?

In fairness to Italians, I first encountered the seatless toilet in Greece 30 years ago. I haven’t been to Greece since then, but I have been to Italy several times and I see that the tradition lives on.

So what gives?

About three years ago, we were in Rome and my then eight-year old daughter needed to use the toilet at The Forum. We entered the public restroom and my daughter looked at me in dismay, “What do I do, Mom?” It was a bare, seatless toilet bowl with a thin, uncomfortable, dirty rim. “You balance, honey,” I answered.

Having grown up in the United States where toilets are designed for comfort, I know a good toilet seat when I see one. I am not unfamiliar with hole-in-the-floor toilets either. But a seatless toilet is the worst of all worlds. Either seated comfortably or squatting low is much easier than a precarious half-balance on one’s haunches when “taking care of business” (not to mention the danger of mid-air spray; women do not pee in a thin, tidy stream).

And it isn’t just public restrooms. Our hotel room in Rome had been retroactively equipped with a roundish seat that didn’t quite fit the squarish bowl. And just two weeks ago, our hotel room in Pisa had an ill-fitting seat that was also broken. You had to bear right as you sat to avoid slipping and sliding and ending up on the rim.

A friend theorizes that Italians don’t want to bother cleaning toilet seats. Perhaps she’s right. But that doesn’t explain why the seats on toilets that have them fit so badly. It’s a nuisance, not to mention sexist, to provide toilets without seats or ill-fitting ones.

So why do Italian women and apparently those of other southern European cultures put up with this? Is there a secret or a way to use seatless toilets that I’m missing?

Ironically, in Roman times, public toilets were a place for leisurely socializing. They were often built with ten or more "holes" for group communing!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Är du svensk? Det går även alldeles utmärkt att skriva kommentarer på svenska!/Comments in Swedish are also welcome!