Don’t Forget to Flush the Terlet!


toilet (Photo credit: Gerard Stolk (vers les 66))

It’s been too long since I posted, and I don’t feel very deep this morning.  I haven’t worked on Astonishing in a week, and if I don’t get something done on it today, I’ll have to be flogged at dawn.  So, I’ll continue with my travel theme, and share a couple of my favorite public restroom experiences while we were on the road.

For the Fringelings without dangly bits, you know how important it is to have a clean, working toilet when you stop.  Fine, we’ve gotten really good at assessing this before even finding the sign, and most of the rest stops along major highways are reasonable.  In the interests of people watching/listening, public bathrooms top laundromats, and that’s pretty hard to do.

Earlier this week, Husband and I went south.  Just us, just for the day, a work-related thing for him.  As a super bonus, I was able to meet one of my long-standing online fish freak friends.  For the record, I have excellent online judgement, a super nice guy who was exactly who I thought he would be from our internet conversations.  Husband and I could have spent much longer chatting with him.

Husband did his work thing, we drove around and explored the area a bit, bought a couple of heavenly cantaloupes from the Amish, and then headed back home.  Stopped for dinner at a chain restaurant (not Cracker Barrel), where I–you guessed it–had to use the restroom.  Now, the tables were fairly empty, but the bar was crowded.  Serious drinking in progress.

And there in the claustrophobic stall, I heard the music of my misspent youth.  Yes, from two stalls over came the sounds of a young woman puking. There are the sounds of someone who is sick, upset, and then there are the sounds of someone experienced, stealthy.  Mind your own fucking business music.  Quiet, but unmistakable.  I didn’t see her, but I’m guessing young because of the baby bar flies falling off their stools.

Faye Dunnaway - 1970s Inspiration

Faye Dunnaway – 1970s Inspiration (Photo credit: What I Wore)

True, I could be wrong, but this was, without a doubt, the controlled retching of an experienced puker.  Could have been an anorexic, but my money’s on regular drinker.  You know who I mean, the gal who sits and drinks until she can’t force another drop, goes to the bathroom and empties her stomach so she can drink some more.  Totally took me back to the bars I hung out in when I was in my twenties, where that was a regular sight and sound.  Somehow it isn’t surprising this still occurs, and in its own way, it was perfect, because the main character in Astonishing is having a long term, destructive affair with wine.

Funny, I wasn’t so hungry by the time I returned to our table.

A couple of hours later, at a regular rest stop for coffee and bathroom.  First of all, it was weird because the main entrance for the women’s room was blocked off, and I had to walk through a gift shop and back outside for access.  Fine, it was well lit, other people were there, reasonably clean.  I walked in just behind a woman with her young daughter.  The little girl was probably around three.  If you’re not a parent, let me tell you there’s a special hell in public restrooms with young children, particularly at night when they’re overtired.  At three, they’re all either OCD or gleeful at the prospect of touching something disgusting.  Still years away from deliberate public puking to have that eighth  margarita.

This sweet pea was on the OCD side.  “NO!  I don’t wanna!  It’s gonna FLUSH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Mom: “It isn’t going to flush until I flush it.  Now sit back down.”

“NOOOOOOOO!  It’s gonnnnnnnnna flush!”

“What are you doing?!  Sit back down, you’re peeing on me!”

At this point, I’m feeling totally sympathetic towards mom and the little girl.  I imagine meeting mom’s eyes across the row of sinks as we wash hands, giving her an encouraging smile.  I’ve been there.  Flushing is scary to young kids.  Powerful automatic toilets that can’t correctly read the weight of small children are terrifying.  Once they have the experience of unexpected suction and splash, every road stop can be a trauma.

“Don’t be a baby!  You’re a baby! I’m going to put a diaper on you.”

Yeah, there went my sympathy.  Kid is now beside herself, wailing uncontrollably.  Three!  She is a baby. I know, I know. I’m sure mom was also overtired and ready to cry, and we’ve all said things we regret.  But there was something about mom’s tone that made me think this wasn’t all that unusual, and it made me sad.

The whole incident had me wishing we could just be home through a magic portal.  Maybe flushed through the automatic flusher.

English: Pedestal squat toilet

English: Pedestal squat toilet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



  1. Right now Daughter #2 stuck on the M25 (London’s ring motorway) stationary for past two hours because of hideous accident. Boyfriend’s had a wee I’m suggesting she thinks about the shopping bag in the boot!
    At this point I think any loo would do.


          1. it’s not funny is it? And I think she’ll probably run out of petrol. She always drives on a wing and a prayer. I don’t feel I should go out although I can do nothing. She and the bf are in separate cars in the SAME jam.


  2. Scared of a toilet flushing – I was always scared of those urban legends as a kid – the ones where a snake came up though the toilet and bit you on the butt. My Pop told me that’s how Elvis bought it. 😉


    1. LOL! Not too many of those stories in NY. Rats, maybe, but not snakes 😉

      Toilets are filled with potential horrors for little ones–no wonder toilet training can be such a challenge. 😀


  3. You are an inspiration ! My son seemed to want to visit every public toilet in every public place I ever took him. He was the sort of child who liked to take things apart to the point they could neve be re-assembled. I think he might be responsible for a good percentage of the toilets still malfunctioning to this day. He was good at his hobby. The facilities at the Denny’s on E. 123rd and Ballinger Way north of Seattle would be a good one to avoid. One of his masterpieces.
    On my Way…


  4. An Archie Bunkerism…made me imagine you and the hub going on a road trip to Queens. See…told you the rest of us provincials think of New York in terms of associated media. Saw a guy the other day transporting a Porta Potty in the back of a truck. Now I’m thinking maybe he was anticipating many of the terlits here that won’t accept toilet paper. Now, how deep can that go? And, as always, Astonishingly Astonishing how I feel like a blip after reading of your adventures.


    1. ❤ your Archie Bunker connection. As I'm sure you assume, he was a well established part of my childhood. My grandfather, old Brooklynite, also used the terlet and changed the erl on the car. 😉

      Porta Potty. No. I think I'd rather have my bladder burst.

      And thank you. 🙂 I hope to start catching up on my blog reading this afternoon, but I HAVE to get this next scene started now.


  5. mrs fringe, I missed you, kiddo. I am back amongst the living as you are, huh? Kinda sorta?

    I feel like I should write something relevant to your blog post so I shall tell you that today on our way home from Indiana, we had to pee. I’d routed us on a country road heading due North. Nothing but corn and beans. No towns for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles. Then I saw, on the map, a possibility. Weston, OH. A tiny dot but hey, maybe it had a gas station.

    No gas station that we could see but there was a ball field, fenced and wide and empty, and there was one porta-john outside that fence. A lovely little thing, smelled decent inside with TP and even some of that hand sanitizer stuff. Bliss, I tell you. And across the road was field corn, row after row. No cars went by the whole time we were there. We stretched our legs, got some pops out the cooler, felt the breeze, it was lovely out there in the middle of Ohio on a perfect summer day.


    1. Glad to see you're back home and back online.

      That country road sounds absolutely blissful, except for the porta potty. Given the choice btw corn fields and a porta potty, I think I'd be in serious danger of a ruptured bladder. 😉

      There are certain times/ways/moments you can't take the city out of the girl. Indoor plumbing is one of them.


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