Friday, November 2, 2007

Men, Women, the Toilet Seat, the Controversy, a Hypothesis

You might well imagine what the stakes are here. Marriage, a central institution in our society, is truly in the balance. A colleague at the lab brought it up as he is caught in this divisive vortex with his relationship uncontrollably spinning clockwise (because he is in the northern hemisphere) down the drain. Will the verbal melée between him and his love flush the relationship?

I’ll cut to the chase, ever since Alexander Cummings went to market with the flush toilet in 1775, the conflict has torn loving relationships apart.

Women: Put the seat down. When I’m in a hurry, I don’t want to sit on the bowl; I want a seat! How hard can it be to put it down?

Men: Act like an adult, don’t wait for the last moment to go, when you need to, go! If it’s “not hard to put down” then it’s not hard to put up!

I grew up with three sisters and of course Mom. And in those years, I too heard the traumatic shrill, “Put the seat down!”

At one point, I decided to put forth a test, or better yet a plan to ridicule this horrific social injustice that, at the time, I felt was only supported by women who could not figure out they needed to pee and men who had succumbed to the nagging. My plot was simple…not only did I put the seat down, I also put down the lid! Yes, the lid too! It is just as much work for women to put the seat down as it is to lift the lid (ignoring the effects of gravity).

The result … no complaints. Nothing, nada, not a word, rien de tout, zippo, ne uma palavra, null, nusquam , ничто, nil.

Still, the fervor with which the women of the post-1775 world pursue this endeavor cannot be ignored. What is it that drives women to become “true believers” in their cause?

My hypothesis... the open bowl presents an opportunity that is not quite complete even worse – a possibility but an undesirable possibility AND one that would be easily corrected if someone had put the seat down. The site of the lid resting peacefully over the seat does not offer the same disappointing yet tempting prospect of the open bowl. It is more about the psychological perspective of the moment, when busting through the bathroom door: is there the harrowing decision of risk the bowl or put down the seat followed by “can’t the seat be ready for me?” or the simple neat throne ready to go when she's ready to go, once the lid is lifted …

Your thoughts?