As many 50-something women find, their lower internal organs begin to drop, droop, sag, bag and demand attention, and do not ignore the familiar signs of urgency and/or wet knickers.
A few days after arriving in Bangkok, Thailand, while shopping at Robinson’s Department Store, I felt the familiar signs. I spotted the unisex sign for “Toilet.” I thought of the scary stories I’d heard about squat toilets. Dare I try this? I mean, how bad could it be? This was Robinson’s, an international upscale chain.
I peeked inside. I wanted to turn and flee. I gagged. Think Kansas City Stock Yard meets Los Angeles County Landfill. I held my breath until I felt faint. I had to do this. There was no backing out now. I gave my keigel muscles a huge clench and duck-waddled inside.
There it was, the ubiquitous Eastern squat toilet, waiting for the next feeble foreigner. It was a hole cut in the tile floor, with porcelain inside the hole and a thin porcelain ledge around the top to stand on. The sides were splattered with various shades of… oh never mind!
I studied this enigma and tried to decide on the best point of entry. I stepped up closer to the beast. Wait! How is a woman supposed to squat on this thing? If you’re wearing long pants they must be pulled down, along with your undies. To where do you pull them? If you pull them down just a little, you’ll pee on them. So, you must get into a kind of stooping position, then pull them down just past your fanny and squat. While squatting, you must pull them down a little more and tuck them under your knees. You then need to hike them up far enough so the bottoms don’t touch the filthy floor. Then you must squat-walk towards the hole.
But what if you have on a full skirt or muumuu? You must pull the front of the skirt up and wad it under your chin, then grab the back of the skirt and wrap it around your waist and try to make a cute little square knot to hold everything in place. And while you’re trying to maneuver yourself into position you have no idea where your feet are with all the clothes piled up around your torso.
You scan the room for a toilet paper roll. Nada! You panic! But wait, over in the corner you spot a spigot with a hose and pail ready and waiting for the nice little butt lavage. This is Asia, girlfriend. Forget about using paper to pat your tu-tu dry. Water is the cleanser of choice.
It’s now time to conquer your fears—and damp drawers. You’re going to need an Olympic score of ten on your mount, and hope your feet hit the indents and not the hole. The porcelain is wet. The floor is wet. There is no paper. You start to pray. You hike up your skirt, wrap it around yourself, squat down a bit and drop your drawers, tucking them behind your knees—and make the jump.
You made it! Now you’re on and in the full squat. You wonder if you can keep your balance long enough to empty your bladder. You wait. It freezes. It’s not going to cooperate. It trickles out one drop at a time, punishing you. Your back hurts, your thighs are screaming and your hamstrings are losing ground. Your purse handles are between your teeth as you try to dig out a piece of tissue with one hand while the other is flailing overhead for balance. One wrong move and you could do a pratfall onto the filthy, wet floor, or, the unthinkable—the hole.
You’re bladder quits pouting and finally empties; it’s now time to dismount. But how? You realize you must get up, and you must do this before the store closes. There’s nothing to hang on to. Both arms are now flailing about, your teeth are losing their grip on your purse handles, and your clothes are tucked into your wrinkles. You must prepare for your dismount before you fall face forward or backasswards. You know you’ll have no help from your burning thigh muscles. You give a giant heave and fling yourself up and out of the crouched position.
Yes! I made it! I’m sure everyone in the store knew I’d successfully landed my dismount when they heard me yell, “Thank you, Buddha!”