At my age I thought I’d seen it all. But, after living in Thailand for a year I gave thanks to my mother for seeing that I was potty-trained in the good ole’ U.S. of A.
A few days after arriving in Bangkok, I was shopping at Robinson’s Department Store. I’d been having some bladder problems, and as many 50-something women find, their lower internal organs begin to drop, droop, sag, bag and demand attention; and we don’t ignore it when we feel the familiar sign of wet knickers.
I spotted the unisex sign for “Toilet.” I’d heard rumors about squat toilets; thankfully my hotel was kind enough to offer sparkly white Western sit-down toilets. Dare I try this? Logic told me to head back to my hotel, but I had to weigh the time it would take in a tuk-tuk (picture a motorcycle with a bucket seat in the back, held in place by a tin cover), and I didn’t think my bladder would appreciate it. I chose the squat toilet. I mean, how bad could it be? This was Robinson’s, an international upscale chain.
I peeked inside. I wanted to turn and flee. I gagged. Think Kansas City Stock Yard meets Los Angeles County Landfill. I held my breath until I felt faint. I thought about trying to breathe through my mouth but decided it might be better to smell than to taste. I had to do this. There was no backing out now. I gave my kegel muscles a huge clench and duck-waddled inside.
There it lay, the ubiquitous Eastern squat toilet, waiting for the next feeble foreigner. It was a hole cut in the tile floor, with porcelain inside the hole and a thin porcelain ledge around the top to stand on. The sides were dappled with droplets of doo-doo in various shades of black, brown and ecru.
For my American sisters who have never traveled to a foreign country that offers these contortion contraptions, let my story serve as a high-level travel alert.
I studied this enigma and tried to decide on the best point of entry. I stepped up closer to the beast. Wait! How is a woman supposed to squat on this thing? If you’re wearing long pants they need to be pulled down, along with your undies. To where do you pull them? If you pull them down just a little, you’ll pee on them. So, you must get into a kind of stooping position, then pull them down just past your butt cheeks and squat. While squatting, you have to pull them down a little more and tuck them under your knees. You also need to hike them up far enough so the bottoms don’t touch the filthy floor. Then you squat-walk towards the hole.
But what if you have on a full skirt or muumuu? You have to pull the front of the skirt up and wad it under your chin, then grab the back of the skirt and wrap it around your waist and try to make a cute little square knot to hold everything in place. And while you’re trying to maneuver yourself into position you have no idea where your feet are with all the clothes piled up around your torso.
You scan the room for a toilet paper. Nada! You panic! But wait, over in the corner you spot a spigot with a hose and pail ready and waiting for the nice little butt lavage. This is Asia, girlfriend. Forget about using paper to pat your tu-tu dry. Water is the cleanser of choice.
It’s now time to conquer your fears — and damp drawers. You’re going to need an Olympic score of ten on your mount, and hope your feet hit the indents and not the hole. The porcelain is wet. The floor is wet. There is no paper. You start to pray. You hike up your skirt, wrap it around yourself, drop your drawers and tuck them behind your knees, and make the jump.
You made it! Now you’re on and in the squatting position. You wonder if you can keep your balance long enough to empty your bladder. It freezes. It’s not going to cooperate. It trickles out one drop at a time, punishing you. Your back hurts, your thighs are screaming and your hamstrings are losing ground. Your purse handles are between your teeth as you try to dig out a piece of tissue with one hand while the other is flailing overhead for balance. One wrong move and you could do a pratfall onto the filthy, wet floor, or, the unthinkable — the hole.
Your bladder quits pouting and finally empties; it’s now time to dismount. But how? You realize you have to get up, and you must do it before the store closes. There’s nothing to hang on to. Both arms are now flailing about, your teeth are losing their grip on your purse handles, and your clothes are tucked into your wrinkles. You must prepare for your dismount before you fall face forward or ass backwards. You know you’ll have no help from your burning thigh muscles. You give a giant heave and fling yourself up and out of the crouched position.
Yes! You made it! I’m sure everyone in the store knew I’d successfully landed my dismount when they heard me yell, “Thank you, Buddha!”
Ultimately, I suppose that the squat toilet is a great idea when it comes to the process of elimination. That is if you’re in your 20s and practice yoga every day. I missed these criteria by about thirty years. Suffice it to say I wouldn’t want to be caught with my knickers around my ankles with a Candid Camera crew hovering in the wings.
(Reprinted with permission from A Broad Abroad in Thailand by Dodie Cross).
Great Tips for Anyone Thinking about Cosmetic Surgery
Getting cosmetic surgery is not a light decision. You need to take your time and research the surgery you are having done, before committing to it. It is important that you find out as much as you can beforehand. Here are some things you need to consider, when you are deciding to have cosmetic surgery done.
You will probably have to remove hairs before the operation; ask your surgeon what method is best. Usually, waxing is the best solution, but you might be able to shave if you do not have a lot of hairs. Your surgeon should be able to recommend the better method and the best products.
When contemplating cosmetic procedures requiring surgery, it is wise to request a fair number of before and after photographs prior to scheduling your operation. By assessing the true potential as well as the limitations of your chosen procedure, you will head into the process with realistic expectations of what is achievable, thereby avoiding possible disappointment.
Before you decide on plastic surgery, consider other options that are available to you. Sometimes there are measures far less severe that could be taken to address the issue. You might be able to get satisfactory results by simply using make-up, going to a dermatologist or developing a better beauty regimen.
Check to see if your surgeon is qualified. When considering cosmetic surgery, you want to be sure that the surgeon you are using is competent. Check online reviews. Contact the medical board. If the surgeon is board-certified, and ask about any complaints. Checking the surgeon out now can save you a lot of grief later.
Before going under the knife, always seek out a board-certified cosmetic surgeon. It is imperative that you get to know your surgeon. Ask about his qualifications, and certifications. Request before and after photos. If possible, speak with former patients. A good surgeon will be proud to show off his best work, and will always be forthcoming about qualifications.
You should keep your expectations of the results of plastic surgery realistic. Most procedures are about just an improvement over what you already look like and will not create a new face. If the procedures are centered around body contouring, remember that this is not a weight loss procedure but will merely improve the shape of your body by a few degrees.
Finding out what you need to know, before you have cosmetic surgery, is important. Use the tips in this article to help form a foundation of knowledge about the surgery. Then you'll have a better idea of what to expect. Find out as much as you can, and you will make smart decisions about your surgery.