June 20, 2013
I’m 1/3 the way through my summer of insanely-over-planned activity, and interrupting my family trip to Colorado to bring you this important, life-changing discussion.
Whilst in China (because if I’m going to humblebrag about being in China I might as well use “whilst”) I discover that venerable and ancient plumbing fixture known as the squatty-potty. In lieu of a conventional throne, you squat over a porcelain hole in the floor equipped with helpful ridges to show you where to place your feet.
I, like most Westerners thought “Ew, grody!” when I first encountered the public squatty. It was smelly and indeed grody–but then this is true of public restrooms everywhere else I’ve been.
Chinese people find our sit-upon style revolting sometimes: They make the excellent point that in the case of the squatty, no part of their bodies touch the porcelain.
If you find yourself facing one of these toilets, please do learn from my experience.
Step one, plan ahead: Don’t wear high heel shoes if you think you may be dropping to squat. Unless you’ve been keeping up on your Crossfit, these shoes will only pitch you forward where you don’t want to go.
Step two, dress for success: Forget belts and button-flys. Make it easy on yourself. I usually wore one piece dresses that required minimal fussing. If there’s one place you don’t want to hang out and soak up culture (see what I did there?) it’s the squatty.
Step three: BYOP. Keep tissues in your purse because when you are squatting in a foreign toilet, you’re in no position to flip through your phrase book for the Chinese version of, “Hey! Would someone please pass me a couple squares?”
Step four: Don’t face the music. For the first week in China, I entered the stall and addressed the hole. In the second week, we toured a pediatric hospital. Because women going together seems to be a universal phenomenon, the anesthesiologists I was with took me en nasse to a bathroom sized for children, complete with short stall walls. They entered their respective cubicles and did an about-face before dipping below my line of sight. I had been peeing backwards.
In closing I leave you with the very useful Mandarin phrase, “Niao-Niao,” which rhymes with meow-meow and means “pee-pee”.