Ahh, bathrooms: the great equalizer. Whether you’re peeing in a pristine studio off campus or puking up jungle juice at BK, everyone, everywhere, thinks about toilets every day. They ask where to find one, how clean it will likely be, and honestly, is it that hard to put the seat back down?! There are some people out there, however, who think about toilet use a lot more than the average bear. I don’t know that I’d ever like to meet them, but their products have inspired, convenienced and repulsed many. Here are some curiosities to ponder the next time you’re grabbin’ some porcelain…or not.
For germaphobes or guitar heroes
Terrified of the germs you’re convinced are hiding around every corner but tired of your hard-to-explain bruises from trying to flush a toilet with your elbows? Singer/songwriter Eric Herbst, grossed out by public toilets, used his wah-pedal know-how to create the Foot Flush, a device that flushes toilets when you step on a pedal. Provided you’ve avoided the billions of germs leading up to the toilet flusher by not touching any doorknobs, walls, drinking fountains, faucets or hands, it may save you your fourteenth hand-washing.
For the man on the go, or the eccentric left-wing novelist
David Sedaris is fascinated by the Stadium Pal, a portable public urination system. He dedicated a chapter of his recent book to his experience trying one out. Consisting of an external catheter and a storage bag that straps to your ankle, the Stadium Pal essentially lets you pee your pants without bringing any attention to yourself, provided you don’t react to what is essentially a hot water bottle suddenly coming into existence against your calf. Advertised as a practical solution for anyone distanced from a restroom for long periods (baseball game, long road trip, organic chemistry, etc.), it could make Port-A-Potties a thing of the past. Provided you can get over the fact that you’re peeing yourself. In public.
For music nuts. No, really, I can’t take a break from Radiohead
If you’ve ever dropped an iPod in a toilet, you’ll appreciate the common paradox between wanting to listen to music at all times and admitting you have bodily functions. I don’t know if this is a common conundrum, but it must happen to some people, because iCarta has produced a solution: the iPod toilet paper holder. It has four waterproof (ew) speakers and charges your iPod while you wait. Just be prepared: your bathroom trips now require outlet power. And possibly some very specific playlists.
For tomboys, or any girl-on-the-go
Men, you will never be able to appreciate the sheer inconvenience of having to find a bathroom, secluded bush, or some kind of stabilizing architecture when you need to relieve yourself. The ease with which boys can respond to nature’s call has been a source of female envy, I imagine, for centuries. Until now. The P-Mate, a product from the U.K., is a disposable “adaptor;” essentially a funnel of sorts carrying the tag line “why sit when you can stand?” Featuring ladies frolicking and blowing dandelions on the packaging (things you’ll have much more time to do, I suppose, once you’ve been freed of the need for bathroom hunts), the P-Mate truly is something no woman can be without. But I think I’ll manage.
Scared of the dark or prone to bed-wetting?
Late-night bathroom runs are notorious for causing stubbed toes, whispered expletives and the occasional misfire. Put all confusion aside with the Lavatory Navigator, or LavNav. Unlike most ordinary, run-of-the-mill, glow-in-the-dark toilet seats (we’ve all seen WAY too many of those, after all), the LavNav actually has a built-in sensor that lights up when it detects motion, then turns off once you’ve gone. It’s yet another germaphobe-friendly device (we are way too accommodating of you people). Just be careful to, you know, aim well—there’s no mention of whether the high-tech circuitry is water resistant.
News junkies or anyone disillusioned with the media
Finally, in my opinion the single greatest invention in both transmitting news to a target audience and improving everyone’s bathroom experience, is the RSStroom Reader. A conceptual prototype out of Taiwan, this small printer is hooked up to your laptop and your toilet seat. When it senses your weight on the seat, it sends you a personalized update of news in alignment with your personal browsing tastes—and prints it out on toilet paper it dispenses. Whether you use it because you can’t part with the media or because you want to show FOX News just what exactly you think of their reporting, you can do it in a biodegradable way. Assume mine will be hooked up to Perez Hilton. Whether it’s for the former or the latter rationale, this column could stand to leave something to the imagination, so that one’s up to you.