to Xiamen & Fujian Dethroned --Perils
of Chinese Potties and TP!
--Perils of Chinese Potties and TP!(written with hindsight)
"You're kidding!" I valiantly gave it a go--and lost face when I fell on my face. When Sue saw that I could not squat flat-footed without holding on for dear life to a wall or pipe, she demanded,"
"What do you mean you can't squat?" I can do it! Your sons can do it! You're the only one in the world, Bill Brown, who can't squat!"
"Easy for you to claim squatter's right!" I grumbled. "You were born and raised in Taiwan, and Shannon and Matthew grew up in Xiamen. But I'm an American and I can't squat!"
Alas, years of comfortably ensconcing myself upon the great ceramic, and sometimes cushioned, thrones of American restrooms (ah, restful indeed!) have rendered my body too inflexible for flat-footed squatting, no matter how desperate the situation. Barbie, Ken, and G.I. Joe may be fully bendable, I am not.
Ironically, Chinese are the ones who invented the sit-down flush toilet that I so long for--though I must confess that the squat versions are indeed more practical and durable. Not much can go wrong with a ceramic hole, and there are no lids or seat rings to clean or fix (because seat rings often break when unlightened souls squat atop the Western sit-down toilets in China's western restaurants). But practicality notwithstanding, I still miss the days of sitting pretty upon the throne while browsing the newspaper or Reader's Digest (or, nowadays, Xiamen Daily's weekly English supplement, Common Talk).
Fortunately, while Chinese ceramic holes are still the norm, toilet paper has improved immensely. Not surprisingly, Chinese invented toilet paper as well as toilets. Almost 1,000 years ago, imperial households employed small squares of perfumed paper upon their royal rears. Even commoners used recycled paper--though one scholar firmly opposed using paper with poetry upon it. But when I came to Xiamen in 1988, I was hard pressed to believe that TP was a Chinese invention. Xiamen TP felt like recycled sandpaper, and it was months before our tender bourgeois bottoms could cope.
Fortunately, Xiamen firms now put out quality TP, and it turns out that foreign burgeois buttocks weren't the only ones ready for pampering. The Sons of the Dragon's derrieres also prize the new TP, many of which have fragrances, and delicate prints (which I suspect one must read with hindsight). An American lady in Quanzhou told me that her favorite brand was "Mind Act Upon Mind," which boasts, "For soft and comfortable life you can really feel good."
But for life to be soft and comfortable for me, I need an American sit-down toilet, because Susan Marie's disdain notwithstanding, I still can't squat--but at least while I struggle I have plenty of good reading material, thanks to a library of "Uncle John's Bathroom Readers!"
Become a member in good sitting with the Bathroom Reader's Institute! Visit: http://www.bathroomreader.com
Above Chinese Urinals!
Last Updated: May 2007 Back to Top