Of course, I am referring to the squat toilets found in many parts of the world outside of North America. Some can be gleaming porcelain fixtures, while others are nasty holes in the ground (and lots of variations in between).
When I lived in Greece 20 years ago, I got used to the gleaming porcelain versions. So much so, I couldn’t figure out why visiting friends were so appalled when we found these in roadside restrooms. After all, I figured they were reasonably hygienic as nothing but the bottoms of your shoes touched anything.
Still, using them takes a bit of skill. So here are my eight tips for using a squat toilet. (Men, read no further. These don’t apply to you and you are not allowed to complain about primitive bathroom facilities as your anatomy makes them much less problematic.)
- If you’re planning a trip to a place likely to use squat toilets, focus your gym workouts on strengthening your thighs. Strong thighs are your most valuable asset when faced with a squat toilet.
- Grab a handful of toilet paper before squatting. There’s nothing more awkward than squatting with thighs burning and trembling, trying not to drip, and grappling to unroll toilet paper. (If it’s a squat toilet, there may not be toilet paper available so it’s good to carry a supply of your own.)
- To avoid splashing, squat down as low as your thighs will take you (see tip 1). Liquid will accelerate if it travels a greater distance, making it much more likely to splash high (and all over you) if your aim isn’t perfect.
- Another tip to avoid splashing is to release slowly. I know you’re anxious to get out of there and want to pee quickly and escape. But if you let loose everything at once, it tends to spatter. Again, all over you. Nasty.
- Releasing slowly also allows you to adjust your aim if necessary. You may need to position yourself a little farther back from the hole than you’d expect. If your aim isn’t perfect and you’re gushing, well, again, we have the splash problem. Nice to give yourself the opportunity to adjust your aim as necessary.
- Apply toilet paper while squatting (to avoid dripping), then toss the toilet paper down the hole or in the trash can provided (whatever they request). This leaves your hands free, which will be useful in tip 7.
- If you haven’t followed tip 1, you might feel stuck in the squat position at this point (thighs quivering). You’re frantic to get up without touching anything. Use your hands to push against the tops of your own feet (which you’re likely to be willing to touch) to leverage yourself out of the squat position.
- Hand sanitizer is your friend.
See, not so hard, is it? I dare you to go out and practice!