Bathroom humor

We were having dinner this evening with my brother’s family – including two of my nephews. In their typically high spirited adolescent way, the boys managed to turn the conversation toward bathroom humor.

My sister-in-law, not wanting to stifle their young minds entirely by ending the discussion, but wishing to maintain some propriety in the converstion, pointed out that in Japan there are water closets that can flushed via one of two buttons – labeled number one and number two. Not surprisingly, each button indicates the relative force required. As in “was this a number one, or was this a number two?” All in the spirit of providing a more eco-friendly appliance, less wasteful of water and kinder to our planet.

I was impressed with my sister-in-law’s cleverness. She had deftly turned what might otherwise have been a crude and inappropriate conversation into a thoughtful treatise on helping the environment.

At which point I decided to join in. Although I’m not really sure how much help I provided. I told the assembled family about the time back when I was a counselor at a summer sleep-away camp. In the week before the campers were due to arrive, we counselors would spend time bonding with each other and learning the rules of running a summer camp, while the older and more experienced counselors would impart their wisdom to the younger first-timers.

At one orientation talk, the head counselor patiently explained to us that campers are sometimes uncomfortable about using certain words. So he suggested that when a camper asks permission to leave his bunk bed in the middle of the night to answer the call of nature, it mght be best to ask, as gently as possible, “is it a number one, or a number two?”

At which point one of the counselors in the back – more experienced than most – helpfully interjected that in his years on the job he’d heard every possible description. “One kid last year,” he added, “had two threes and a five!”

One Response to “Bathroom humor”

  1. Dagmar says:

    “Campers are sometimes uncomfortable about using certain words”

    That reminds me of my first time at Fortnum and Mason in London – yes I am a real snob and enjoy having tea there :-)

    Anyway I was looking for the rest-rooms – I looked at a panel and found the restrooms for men listed and located, but as you can guess that didn’t help me much being female.
    It took me another minute staring at the panel until I found a “powder room” listed for women…

    While travelling you learn a lot about words to be used and not to be used and you learn a lot about (rest-room) culture, about taboo and last but not least about technology – like the water-stop systems, used in Japan and in Germany, too.

    Sometimes knowing about water closet technology even helps you to understand film shots, like in Kill Bill (part I or II – I don’t remember), where Uma Thurman is being dowsed in a water closet. You only really get what is happening, if you know how an US-water-closet works.

    If you start writing a list of different words for rest-rooms in different countries, you might realise how ridiculous your own wording-taboo is. :-)

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