The Jason Hahn Files: Let’s Talk About Public Toilets

“‘No, really. It’s disgusting. I mean, if you think about it, it’s basically a hose, right? You just aim it and direct the flow. I noticed that the urinals even have a little bee painted at the base.’”

Not to be politically indelicate, but the world is divided into two kinds of women: those who are done peeing in a minute, and those who aren’t.

In the first group, the women might as well be men. A few garment adjustments, a ruthlessly efficient contraction of floor muscles, and they’re out the door. My Mother, the founding member of this group, even manages to find time to check her lipstick in the mirror.

Meanwhile, in the second group, Saffy would still be marching up and down the toilet stalls, cautiously pushing each door open as she cranes her neck in to check the state of the floor, the toilet bowl and the general state of cleanliness.

Sometimes, nothing meets her expectations, in which case she will emerge from the bathroom with a look of grimness and announce that we need to go to another level.

“Oh God, Saff!” Amanda moaned the other day. “The movie is about to start, and you want to go look for a toilet on the next floor? What’s wrong with this one? I just used it and it’s fine!”

Saffy’s bosom stiffened. “There’s no toilet paper in there! How am I going to line the seat if there’s no toilet paper?”

Amanda shot me a look, but I was busy examining my shoelaces. “Then don’t sit!” she said eventually. “Just squat over the loo!”

“Well, excuse me if I don’t have your core muscles,” Saffy snapped, as she began moving towards the escalator. “I need to sit! Look, just go in first. It’ll just be the movie previews, anyway!”

“But those are the best bits of a movie!” Amanda called out, but Saffy’s back had, by now, disappeared into the crowd.

I turned to Amanda. “You squat?”

“Sure! It’s the fastest way to pee!”

I hesitated. “But wouldn’t you have to be very careful about where you aim?”

Amanda gave me a look. “Unlike a man, you mean?” she said, never having forgotten that one time she was in desperate need to pee but there was such a long line to the ladies, whereas the men’s loo next door looked and sounded completely empty. So, she dashed in and nearly died of shock.

“Filthy and smelly!” she later told all her girlfriends. “The floor in front of all the urinals was wet!”

“Wet?” Cindy asked. “Why?”

“Wet with pee!” Amanda said in ringing tones that carried straight across the tables at Les Amis. Heads turned. She leaned in and lowered her voice. “Men can’t aim straight!”

Cindy, who’d been trying to get pregnant for years, sniffed. “You don’t have to tell me!” she said.

Amanda waved her hands. “No, really. It’s disgusting. I mean, if you think about it, it’s basically a hose, right? You just aim it and direct the flow. I noticed that the urinals even have a little bee painted at the base.”

Cindy’s eyebrows arched. “A bee? What for?”

“Well, I asked Jason and he says it’s so that men know where to aim!” 

Cindy put down her fork. “Shut up!” 

“No, really! And yet somehow, they still miss and the pee gets all over the floor. Either that,” Amanda paused as she gave the matter some thought, “either that, or most guys have really small di…” 

Cindy coughed as the maître d’ arrived with the foie gras, followed by the sommelier to discuss the next wine pairing. 

Leave it to Sharyn to find the silver lining in everything. “Aiyah,” she said the other day, after Amanda had complained that we’d missed the first two movie previews while waiting for Saffy to return from the loo. “At least, she only need to line the toilet when she outside. Not like my sister-in-law! That woman ah, really one kind! My mah-dur-in-law scold and scold her, you know.” 

“Why, what does she do?” 

Sharyn looked triumphant that for once, she was the centre of attention. She drew in breath, the better to prolong the moment. “You know when she go to toilet at home? She must oh-so line the seat with toilet paper!” 

Amanda paused. “Wait. What? She lines the toilet seat at home?” 

Sharyn’s mouth pursed into a thin line. “So strange, right? Every day, the maid clean, but must still line. And she got bladder ploh-blem, some more, so she must go shee-shee every fie minute. Can you imagine? One day can use up tree toilet roll!”

Amanda sighed.

“Dat’s why kena scolding from my mah-dur-in-law! So you see, Saffy not so bad. Not like my sister-in-law. She really one kind!” Sharyn repeated. 








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