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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA



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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

‘Number One’ Just Got Easier, Gents

Hey, I’ve got a great idea for a new invention. And you’ll be the first to read about it. Aren’t you lucky?

(I’d run it past my wife, but she’s a patent agent, so she’ll tell me all about how silly it is, and how thirteen different people already have patents that I’d be infringing on. Worse, she’d be right. And if there’s anything I hate more than having a cockeyed stupid idea shot down, it’s having a cockeyed stupid idea shot down convincingly. So I’m telling you, and hoping that none of you know what she knows. Or at least that you’ll keep your yaps shut if you do. Can I just hold on to one dream, just for a little while?)

So, anyway, here’s the thing. I live in New England. And I don’t know where you fine feathered folks live, but around here, we’ve got some pretty interesting ideas about architecture and interior design. A lot of novel concepts have originated here — the ‘Cape House’ style, the ‘colonial farmhouse’, and the ‘saltbox’, for instance. And, as far as I can tell, the hardwood-floored bathroom.

Now, maybe I’m wrong about this being a New England phenomenon. Certainly, I haven’t lived in very many places — a couple of places in what I’d call the ‘Mid-Atlantic region’, and some rather interesting (and frightening) spots in the South. But in my admittedly limited experience, I never saw a bathroom with anything other than tile or linoleum floors. Or perhaps, in the seedier establishments, concrete. But never hardwood. Not even once.

So it was a bit of a surprise to me when I ran into these beasts in and around Boston. Certainly, the New Englanders love their hardwood floors. And so do I, frankly. But in the bathroom? Isn’t that going just a bit far?

Well, for a lot of folks around here, apparently not. I’ve seen several of these wood-bottomed washrooms in the few years I’ve been living in New England. I’ve seen them at parties, and at friends’ houses, and now, I even have one of my own. I can see it whenever the hell I want.

(Really. Hey, I’ll go look at it now if you don’t believe me. It’s right down the hall. Don’t make me go there.)

So what the hell does this have to do with the original topic? I’m glad you asked! It’s…um…well… what was the original topic again? Oh, my invention. Okay, I can do this. No problem.

Now, before we go any further, I want to make one thing clear — I like the hardwood floors in the bathroom. It looks great, and it’s easy to clean. No peeling like linoleum, or grime getting in between tiles. Aesthetically, it’s a dream.

But there is one problem, of course. One teensy piddling little problem.

Which is the problem, right there. ‘Piddling’, that is. Oh, it’s not an issue for the ladies. They can ‘squat and squirt’ as usual, with little regard for what sort of floor is beneath their feet. It’s awfully hard for a woman to sit on the can and accidentally spray the floor with urine.

(Not impossible, mind you; I’ve been to too many fraternity parties and seen too many hammered chicks to believe that falling off the john or rocking too far backwards and fountaining a whiz over the front lip of the bowl can’t happen. But that’s the exception, not the rule. Typically, if a woman wees on the floor — or the walls, or even the ceiling, if she’s got that kind of oomph — she meant to do it. Don’t let any sober woman fool you into thinking otherwise, gents.)

But it’s different for us guys, now, isn’t it? We’re shooting from three feet away or more. It’s not just a matter of letting loose; no, we’ve got to aim. With tiles or concrete underfoot, we can afford to be a bit, shall we say, cavalier. A spill here, or a dribble there, and none’s the wiser, right, fellas? That’ll dry, and no one ever has to know.

Ah, but hardwood is different. The moisture warps the wood, and the acid can stain it. The last thing you want is a bathroom floor with little bleached-out polka dots around your toilet. Seriously, questions will be asked. So, it’s a lot harder on us menfolk when putting the proverbial biscuit in the basket while standing on hardwood.

(Perhaps not quite as hard as getting the job done while we’re standing there with hardwood of our own, but that’s an entirely different matter. Our happy little friends basically only know two tricks, and they simply can’t concentrate on both at once. And while it’s inconvenient to have the floodgates slammed shut by a bit too much enthusiasm, I’m pretty sure it evens out in the end. No doubt we all appreciate that the ‘yellow tide’ is held back while Mr. Winkie is working on his other duties. Our faucets run in two colors, but they’re not ‘two great tastes that taste great together’. Or so I’m told. Ahem.)

So aiming definitely becomes an issue. You have to become a dead-eye master with your one-eyed monster. (So to speak. Even I’m a little embarrassed over that one.) But there are so many things that can go wrong. There’s the first-squeeze spurt that tends to overshoot the bowl. The after-shake dribbles, which sometimes fly off in all directions, as though each drop has a mind — and a preferred trajectory — of its own. And heaven help you if you’ve got a wrinkle or a hair or something blocking the path of the pee; the stuff will shoot out of you at wild angles, maybe even splitting into two or three messy streamlets. Forget the floor — I’ve almost pissed on my own chest before. It pays to do an equipment check before you get the show started. Absolutely.

But that’s not all. Oh, no. We’ve also got the ‘splash factor’ to worry about. Even with laser-like aim, we can accidentally litter the floor with dribbles and droplets flying upwards from the impact in the bowl. Who the hell made this so hard, anyway? And a lot of you people think God is a man? This is just the sort of crap that makes me skeptical.

So, where does that leave us? Well, it leaves me with some rather unattractive options. When I’m downstairs in my house and I’ve got to answer the call of nature, I’ve got three choices. I can schlep all the way upstairs to the other, tile-floored bathroom. But that sounds a helluva lot like work. So instead, I can hit the hardwood head, and have a seat to get the job done. But that just leaves me with all sorts of adjusting and shirt-tucking and shit like that to do, so that’s not so good, either. Plus, I’m on my ass long enough every day as it is, I think. I’d prefer to get a little aerobicizing in while I’m draining the lizard, if it’s at all possible. Some days, it’s the only exercise I get.

So, I’m left with door number three; namely, lining up my shot like a sniper or a trick-shot artist, and letting fly as gently as I can.

(Which is often not all that friggin’ gently. When you gotta go, you gotta go, you know.)

Of course, things don’t always go quite as planned, and then I’m stuck with a mess on my hands.

(Or the floor. Or sometimes both, but I don’t really like to talk about that. That’s just nasty.)

And so — finally — we come to my Big Idea™. Namely, a toilet curtain. You know those flimsy circular curtains that some people hang around their free-standing bathtubs? The ones they string around a bar high over the tub, so they can take an actual shower? Well, why not the same thing for the toilet? It wouldn’t have to be all that tall — maybe two or three feet over the bowl. It’d even be low enough to see over, so you could keep an eye on what you’re doing in there.

Not that you’d need to watch any more, though. With your handy Commode Curtain™ in place (yes, I changed the name already; alliteration is king, folks), you’re free to shimmy and shake and wiggle to your heart’s content. Prance while you pee, if you want. Do the Wee-Wee Watusi. Go nuts. Because all the ‘spillage’ will be caught and collected by the Curtain, and drained down the drain, and away from your precious floor. Just as it should be. No fuss, and no muss. How could this not make money?

Anyway, that’s my rather convoluted (and pretty damned gross, I have to admit) thought for today. Maybe I’ll get on the ball and have my wife check into the patent records for something similar. Maybe I really am the first to come up with this. How cool would that be? Maybe it’ll become known as the ‘Charlie Curtain’, or simply the ‘Charlie’. Which would… um, be quite an honor, I guess, if a little creepy. I’m not sure I really want every man in the country praising my name as he’s making slippy-slides into his toilet. Ugh.

So, as usual, I’ll have to rethink this whole damned thing. It’s probably just as well. My wife would never go for a contraption that let me unzip and let ‘er rip all willy-nilly like that. Which is pretty reasonable, I guess. Knowing me, I’d eventually get overzealous, and find a way to spray the walls or the sink, or the extra roll of toilet paper. Or I’d end up pissing on my own chest, just as I feared. And I don’t need any help with that, thanks. It’s pretty much just a matter of time as it is.

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