An American Couple in Delft
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Intimate Experiences

Todayís dispatch will contain some euphemisms. This is not because Iím trying to conceal anything, but rather that some of you gentle readers would prefer not to read the stronger, more familiar language.

Bill Cosby used to do a terrific routine that made fun of one of the cardinal rules your mother taught you: always wear clean underwear. The reason for doing so was that if you were in an accident and had to be undressed unexpectedly, at least the doctors would know that your mother had taught you to wear clean underwear. Cosby claimed it didnít matter whether you really did this or not because "if you make a right turn into a one way street going the wrong direction and see a Mack truck a hundred feet in front of you coming your way at 50 miles per hour, first you say it, then you do it." "It," gentle readers, is the first euphemism, and is our topic today.

The "facilities" (the second euphemism for those keeping score) are different than in the U.S. At home, there is a bowl and the water fills the bowl, frequently at its widest point, but always plenty wide enough so that it fills the business area of the facility and can accept anything that might drop in (a partial euphemism). This will be known as the production (the third euphemism, a full one this time).

In Europe, most facilities are not made that way. Usually they are shaped kind of like a funnel so that there is only a small amount of water at the bottom, still strategically located to accept the production. The amount of water is so small that frequent streaking occurs creating many opportunities for cleaning the facility. I should note that all facilities Iíve seen so far, in the hotel, now in our temporary apartment, and in the couple of private homes weíve stayed in, all have a discreet brush located right next to the facility.

The facility in our new temporary apartment where we will be living for about three months has a new and wonderful feature: the shelf (not a euphemism Ė thatís what it is). The base of the facility is shaped like a mixing bowl, i.e. a convex surface with its lowest point at the center. According to the laws of gravity, things congregate at the lowest point. You can see where Iím going with this. The exit point is not in the area of the business end of the facility. Rather, it is located towards the front, the end of the facility farthest from the wall and on the upswing from the bottom where the production has been deposited. This creates the shelf.

When one has finished producing, itís time to remove the production from the premises. Things now become a bit more unpleasant. Inasmuch as the production is not submerged the way we are used to, it remains there for oneís visual inspection to ascertain that all is well. Why else would this have been made this way? In addition, the lack of submersion also lets one know that oneís olfactory senses are intact, something that is, of course, vital to oneís health and sense of well-being.

There are alternative facilities used by approximately half the population and when in use, the user is standing. These are usually unremarkable but in many public places, including Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, just to the side of the place where the production (in this case, production of a different sort than previously mentioned) takes leave of the facility, there is frequently a decal of a fly. The uninitiated think at first that the fly is real and take aim trying to hit it. After a bullís-eye causes no movement on the part of the fly, one realizes one has been had. But itís fun anyway, even if thereís no skill involved hitting the stationary target. One does what one has to do to keep one amused. The fun of this facility, however, does not compensate for the angst of using the other facility. You see, when I find I have to use the other facility, first I say it, then I do it.

 

© 2008 Rick Wexler   last updated February 21, 2008