New seat

The seat on the new toilet cracked after less than a year. No more cheap shit, we resolved.

Just for the record, it wasn’t me that split it. I’m not going to name the culprit, but he has broken his share of chairs, as well — not because he’s too heavy (he isn’t), but because he can’t sit still.

There are some things it just doesn’t make sense to be impatient about, you know? Like meditation — the whole point is to practice stillness and letting go, right? Only one side of the O-shaped seat split, though, so it still held together well enough for my daily practice, such as it is. The bit of a jagged edge helped prevent me from getting too comfortable, kept me focused.

But this is a guesthouse, and the owners — my parents — became concerned that some of their guests might not take it as lightly as I do. So this afternoon, Dad finally splurged and bought a new seat. It’s a 16.5″ (42 cm) WestportTM Designer, “Hard,” with Lift-OffTM for Easy Cleaning and Quiet Slow-CloseTM Action.

The old seat came off without too much trouble. I like jobs that require nothing but a screwdriver, because that’s the only tool I have in the house. If I need a hammer, I have to go borrow one from my parents. Though sometimes I can get by with a rock.

It felt a little odd to be putting a toilet seat in a garbage can.

One thing I wondered as I put the new seat on is why public restrooms always have U-shaped toilet seats, while toilet seats for use in the home are O-shaped? Perhaps the latter is more of an invitation to solitary contemplation, suggesting by its very shape both completeness and emptiness. I mean, I can think of some practical reasons for not having the seat connect in front for toilets with a high rate of usage, but I’m curious about why no one ever installs that kind of seat at home. I suppose the U-shape is too closely associated with public restrooms, and people are after a different ambience at home. After all, for the average American household, the bathroom is the most often redecorated room in the house. It’s not just a place to shit, shower and shave, it’s a place to nest. Maybe lay an egg or two.

The new seat appeared most commodious, and I could hardly wait to take it for a test-sit. But if you don’t have to go, you can’t go, you know? (And just think how much simpler our lives would be if things were always that way — if we were incapable of doing anything unnecessary! Heck, if my mind worked half as well as my digestive system, I’d be in deep nirvana by now.)

So I contented myself with trying out the Quiet Slow-CloseTM Action a few times, and I have to admit, I was pretty impressed. Push the seat or the lid down as hard as you want; they still won’t slam. Instead, they sink slowly and ever so quietly into position, as if to remind us that we have all the time in the world. Just sit.

42 Comments


  1. But have they designed a toilet seat that lowers itself for homes with “forgetful” men?

    I’ve always wondered about the U vs. O shape myself…and somehow I’m shocked that you of all people don’t know the answer in this case. I guess you’ve fallen a bit in my humble estimation… ;-)

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  2. Someone I know, (knew?) had a wooden toilet seat that was never too cold or hard. I have no idea where it was, but I remember it.

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  3. Lorianne – Oops, I guess i forgot to don my magical Cloak of Authoritativeness before writing this post. I’ll blame it on the cold.
    Zhoen – What I really wanted was a toilet seat like the ones they used to have at a restaurant near here: clear plastic, with rusty barbed wire embedded inside. Made one hesitate just a bit.

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  4. I know patents have been issued for a self-lowering seat, but I’ve never seen one in production, nor can I find one online.

    But here’s how to hack your toilet seat to achieve the desired effect.

    Just buy one of those really fluffy toilet lid covers — the fluffier the better. The thickness of the cover will keep the “O” rim from standing up by itself in the raised position. Guys will have to hold it in place.

    It’s not too much of an inconvenience, and we guys are … well … pretty good at figuring out ways to … uh … I’m sure you understand. We’ll manage.

    Combined with Dave’s automatic lowering device, I believe bathroom feminism may finally have reached its ultimate goal.

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  5. Ah, a subject that I take great interest in (I’ve noticed in previous posts that you seem to share my interest in scatology). I’ve also wondered about the U-shape versus the O-shape, thus did a “wee” bit of research… Here’s what I found – [link].

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  6. Hi kit – Thanks for stopping by. I know exactly what you mean! I don’t share your confidence in men, though. In my experience, it requires some fair dexterity to hold the seat up while urinating, and avoid splashing the rim or floor. So if it’s a feminist plot, I’d say it’s one with a high likelihood of backfiring.

    Personally, I’ve never understood why women get so exercised about toilet seats being left up. Is it really so much trouble to look before you sit? Why should men have to be extra mindful, just so women don’t have to be? The point of the post was that visits to the pot can be opportunities for training in Buddhist-style mindfulness. I don’t think it’s fair that men should monopolize those opportunities. :)

    Actually, to conserve water, a low-flush policy would probably be best for most households. That would involve putting down the seat AND LID after each use, those ending the whole silly argument.

    Wendy – Thanks for sharing the results of your research. I’m not sure it really answers my question about why people don’t use U-shaped seats at home, though. If commercial establishments like them because they are easier and cheaper to keep clean, wouldn’t that make them attractive for the home market as well? I don’t know too many people who enjoy cleaning toilets. So I stand by what I wrote above, that the O-shape simply makes us feel more at home.

    my interest in scatology
    Wait — I thought you were the rare example of a normal psychotherapist?

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  7. ixchel – Thanks. Seems marginally more solid than the pundit Wendy linked to, but what do I know?

    Rachel – There’s no such thing as a bad pun in my book.

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  8. I remember seeing this on an ecology poster in the late 60s:
    If its yellow,
    let it mellow.
    If its brown,
    flush it down.

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  9. this woman objects to having to touch any part of the toilet before using it. The seat must be handled first and I don’t want to handle it. I’m sure I speak for all hygiene-conscious women.

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  10. forgot to say how entertaining I found your writing, Dave…thanks

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  11. Fred – Don’t worry, enviromentally conscious people are still saying that.

    q.r.r. – I guess it’s fortunate, then, that there aren’t too many unisex public toilets.

    Thanks for the kind remarks.

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  12. I find it unfortunate that there aren’t more understanding men who happen to share bathrooms with women. If they touched the seat before using it why wouldn’tthey be considerate enough to leave it the way they found it?

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  13. maybe the urinal was invented to get around this apparently impossible bit of toilet training.

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  14. qrr – I hate to ask, but how do you avoid touching your butt to the seat? Because obviously toilet seats, as frequently used surfaces, would be full of germs. Are you one of those people who spreads toilet paper over the seat?

    maybe the urinal was invented to get around this apparently impossible bit of toilet training.

    If so, why don’t we see more urinals in private residences, where the sexes are most likely to use the same bathroom? No, I think urinals were invented A) because they’re a better, more sanitary design for those who urinate standing up; and B) like U-shaped seats, they make cleaning easier.

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  15. Some pretty blatant observations about something as simple as a toilet seat. Very well written – I liked it.

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  16. Thanks, Heidi. You always knew I was full of it, right?

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  17. All you gals just need to train your men to piss sitting down if they find it impossible to miss the floor, the seat, the wall, etc.

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  18. well, you see I don’t transport food to my mouth with my butt.

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  19. Pica – Liberation shouldn’t have to wait for the oppressor to change his ways. Maybe it’s time for women to take a stand. With or without a new tool.

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  20. Dave Said, “If so, why don’t we see more urinals in private residences, where the sexes are most likely to use the same bathroom?”

    I, for one, am looking into installing a urinal. The M/F ratio in our house is 3/2.

    And in our house, the seat and the lid are always down. That is SWMBO’s rule, not mine.

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  21. I, for one, am looking into installing a urinal.

    That does sound like the sort of thing a homebrewer would do. :)

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  22. Not sure why quiet fearful reader doesn’t just WASH HER HANDS between toilet seat lowering and food to mouth conveying … but the M:F ration in this house is 1:1 and once I learned to feel for the seat before seating myself when in the dark I find it a non-issue.

    There was a time when we lived in a place where frogs hopped into the bowl if the lid wasn’t replaced, and then reappeared upwards at times when humans were already blocking their exit with their arses, bottoms, so consternation often ensued for all parties … so the mere lowering of the seat seem less consequential to me than to more gently reared females.

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  23. gbmod – Thanks for weighing in.

    frogs hopped into the bowl if the lid wasn’t replaced, and then reappeared upwards at times when humans were already blocking their exit

    RIBBET!
    ACK!

    If/when you do start blogging, I wanna know about it.

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  24. Having a dog, I always lower the toilet seat AND LID after use: why tempt doggy with the possibility of “fresh” but presumably germy water? And regardless of how clean you keep your toilet, it still presumably has some residual germs, so why keep an open, possibly germy container OPEN right next to a sink where you brush your teeth, etc? (My bathroom is also right next to my kitchen, so perhaps I’m a bit persnickedty about keeping things closed & tidy.)

    And regarding ladies sitting on a germy seat & thus contaminating their backsides…Dave, don’t you know that many women don’t sit at all? The very first time I met my ex-mother-in-law-to-be, she somehow wandered off into a mini-manifesto on the merits of “hovering” and how a respectable woman should never sit on even a covered toilet seat. I won’t say whether or not I’m a hoverer, but I will say I should have taken that early conversation as a formidable omen against the marriage I was about to begin. :-)

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  25. And regardless of how clean you keep your toilet, it still presumably has some residual germs

    Or worse, some residual chlorine or ammonia. Bad for doggy! (Bad for our anaerobic coprophagous friends in the septic system, too, but that’s another issue.)

    As for the merits of “hovering,” janitors tell me that women’s restrooms are almost invariably more filthy than men’s (and often have more graffiti, too). So I guess there’d be good reason to hover. But what does all that hovering do for the aim?

    Damn, don’t ever let anyone suggest that Via Negativa is not a forum for wide-ranging discussions on the burning issues of the day!

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  26. Laughed so hard that I cried.

    Please notifiy me when quietregularreader starts her own blog.

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  27. 1. Women have short urethras. So when they have to go, they are less able to hold it. Twin this urgency with middle of the night or early morning darkness (especially on older eyes that won’t adjust to sudden lightbulbing, quickly), and imagine a sudden, hard drop to the bowl. Worst case scenario is painful, although the chance of spinal injury is probably pretty rare.
    2. A man who is in a similar situation, with the seat down (or even cover down) means he may pee on the lid or floor. Not painful, no chance of severe injury.
    3. I keep lid down always, so I take the same risk of spillage in a urinary emergency.
    4.I have dropped brushes in the toilet. Which sucks. Lid goes down. Evens it out for everyone.

    I sit. In public toilets, the seat and the door handle grow the least bugs, while hot air hand dryers aerosolize fecal matter. I never worry about a few germs on my butt. I hate women who squat, and leave little drops for me to wipe or sit in. I go to another stall if I can, not because of a real risk, simply an ick factor.

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  28. I’m not so worried about getting germs on my butt either. I just don’t like looking into an open toilet when I walk into an otherwise lovely bathroom. And the point about losing a toothbrush or other item (lipstick rolls off the counter…) is another good point.

    I have female friends who never put the seat cover down when the visit either. What’s up with that? Better than leaving the seat itself up, though – an accident waiting to happen if I go in half asleep in the night and find my butt on the damn *rim*. Not a happy thing.

    One guy I used to know told me he stopped leaving the seat up after he had a coworker at his real estate office come over and feng shui his place. She told him, “Flush your pee, not your chi.”

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  29. Peter – Glad you found this diverting. As a married man, you probably already know all this stuff.  Me, I’m taking notes.

    Zhoen – Thanks for supplying the nurse’s perspective (and confirming my suspicion that hovering is actually partly responsible for the conditions that make hovering necessary). I hadn’t heard that about hot air hand dryers. From an environmental perspective, of course, they are diabolical. People should carry their own towels with them – first rule in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, as I recall.
    Leslee – Feng shui?! Wow, there’s a whole new angle to this thing that i hadn’t even considered! Thanks.

    This string also has me thinking seriously about getting a toilet seat cover. Well, O.K., not too seriously. It’s probably more accurate to say I thought about it for the first time ever.

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  30. note on the inside of each stall in the women’s toilet at the Seniors’ Center where I do volunteer work, says this:

    If you sprinkle
    when you tinkle
    Be a sweetie
    and wipe the seaty

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  31. Thanks for that gem.

    It occurs to me to add that, in point of fact, urine doesn’t really carry the huge threat of infection that certain other bodily substances do. It’s just gross.

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  32. Hi Dave – I like the way this discussion is going. I have always subconsciously looked down upon germaphobic people in general – without really realizing it until now. I do not worry about invisible matter touching my butt in public restrooms – however, if there is any visible matter on the seat, that is when hovering becomes appropriate – and is perhaps a good barometer of how one’s quads are doing. I don’t like people who use seat covers. Period.

    I was wondering why no one had mentioned the peeing standing up thing – then I was delighted to read the links about it. I discovered this tactic while living without indoor plumbing and not wanting to a) find my shoes in the dark, or b) get my socks wet in the grass – I discovered that I too could pee off the deck just like the men. I have never tried it while out and about it in “civilization” because accidentally pissing on yourself in a public restroom is generally frowned upon.

    As a teacher of young children, I share a bathroom with many who are still mastering the art of getting all the pee into the right place at the right time. It requires cleaning up a lot and seat-up, seat-down, it makes no difference if you don’t make it into the bathroom in time.

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  33. Hi Alison – I’m glad to hear from a woman who has actually mastered that technique, which – not to trivialize women’s liberation – does seem like a final frontier of sorts in the battle for equality. Pretty cool that you discovered it on your own.

    Re: seat covers, actually, I was thinking about lid covers. Those are O.K.

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  34. I suppose I am in dangerous position here (ahem) but I do not care about seat-down or seat-up. One of the reasons my hubbie says he’s a happy guy, I guess.

    Re: the hazards faced by women from an upturned seat, if I’ve bestirred myself and am aware enough to make my way to a bathroom, despite Zhoen’s #1 hypothesis I’m not too rushed to flip a light on and a seat down as needed.

    Dave, thanks for directing me via Via this morning to what was a great string of comments!

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  35. Lori – Your hubbie is indeed fortunate. It’s little issues like this that make me glad I’m still a bachelor. Life is too short.

    Of course, if you live as far out in the country as we do, it’s rarely an issue. We guys have 360 acres of urinal, and I’ve had a few female visitors who didn’t mind going out behind the house, either.

    Karen – Thanks! Boy, those are a lot more fun than that stupid “Piss Christ” installation that created such a furor a few years back. I wonder, though, how a fully functioning installation of the art urinals would work as far as giving equal opportunity to both sexes? I like the artist’s statement:

    “Many have asked where the idea for these pieces came from. Well, quite obviously from the bathroom! I had the idea while standing over a urinal many times a day and letting the shape inspire me. I saw a shoe, a mouth, a shovel, a cup, etc. The flower became the shape I finally chose partly because I love flowers and partly because it is the perfect contradiction – taking a mundane, even ugly object and transforming it into something different, even something beautiful.”

    …and then pissing on it.

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  36. If Buddha is dried crap on a stick, this message thread is a river of dharma.

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  37. After reading this post last week I’ll be damned if an orphaned toilet seat didn’t turn up on my own block. And because it was put by the curb on the wrong day I got to walk by it and think of your blog every day this week.

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