Wednesday, March 5, 2008
"Toilet," the most unflattering description/noun in the Northern AND Southern Hemisphere.
When I first visited the U.K. in the summer of 2003, one of the first things I noticed was that the Brits call the bathroom "the toilet. Ever since this realization, I have cringed every time I hearsomeone say "I'm going to the toilet" or when I would read a sign that says, well..."Toilets."
For me, "toilets" sets too much of a mental image. You do things involving your bowels in the toilet. You poop in the toilet. You pee in the toilet. Some people do much nastier things while IN THE TOILET. "Bathroom" sounds so much more pleasant. When you say "I'm going to the bathroom," I don't really think about what your plans are once you get in there. Wash your hands? Great! Take a nice bath? Wonderful! Steamy shower? Even better! For some reason, I just don't equate "bathroom" with excretions; it's equated with the idea of "cleanliness". But if you say "I'm going to the toilet," well...thanks pal. I now have a mental image of you sitting there with your pants down around your ankles committing a sinful act (at least to the Catholics. Everybody knows shitting is a sin against God if you're Catholic).
Now, I understand the distinction - a toilet is just that: a toilet. The kind you flush. A bathroom contains a bath, sometimes a shower, and even a toilet. So you wouldn't very well find a bathroom, by the previous definition, in a bar or restaurant. But c'mon folks - do us all a favor and sugar coat it - say you're going to the bathroom - humor us.
I'm facing this issue of the word "toilet" once again since moving to Australia. For me, the toilet is a thing, a noun, not an actual place to visit. But because I doubt the entire country of Australia will start calling the toilet the bathroom, I'm going to exclude the word toilet from my vernacular. I'll play their game. Instead of "I'm going to the toilet," I'm going to take it up a notch. Expect lots of "I'm going to take a bowel movement because I had a cup of coffee this morning. And man, it's run right through me" or "Jesus Christ, I've had a lot of water. I'm going to take a pee so I'll let you know how it ranks on the urine color chart" (see previous post). How do you like that Britain and the Commonwealth?! Ain't so pretty when someone doesn't play by the rules. BATHROOM! NOT TOILET! BATHROOM.