August 11, 2005

The Toilet

Okay, okay. I get the message. You want to know about the homemade toilet, eh?

When I was a kid, I loved figuring out how stuff worked. I mean, its amazing I didn't become an engineer or something. One way that I noodled all this engineering stuff through was taking stuff apart. Honestly, nothing was safe when I was on summer vacation. Remember please that I went through this phase between, like seven and ten years old. Otherwise, I'd be sounding like a complete and utter dork right now (although it's likely that I still do).

I think I shared my Smith Corona story some months ago. That old-school typewriter didn't stand a chance. I was still finding keys ten years later. In the wake of the massive typewriter destruction, I pulled apart then reconstructed an old reel-to-reel tape player after which I found and successfully played a tape of my grandfather who died when my mother was 19. It was the first and only time I've heard his voice. And as heartwarming and Hallmark-Hall-Of-Fame-ish as that story is, it inevitably leads to the creation of my own master suite including, yes, a toilet.

Aside: It's fair to say I think toilets are genius and really one of the most amusing pieces of plumbing ever invented. When I was in college, for instance, we had a toilet in our dorm suite we named Ed. Ed was so powerful, you could feed the end of a new roll of toilet paper into the tank, flush and the rest of the roll would fly off the roll in mere seconds. Never dismiss the amusement a toilet can provide when you're a drunk college student.

I had a kick-ass room as a kid but the only thing it was missing was a bathroom. It had a huge walk-in closet and in that closet was a seven-year-old-sized door that lead to a portion of the attic over the garage. I saw an opportunity. If you build it, they will pee.

My building materials were simple - I had several buckets and cardboard barrels along with cardboard toilet paper and paper towel tubes I'd hoarded for quite some time. This became my toilet.

Now, as brilliant as my previous feats of engineering had been, for some reason I managed to mentally block the fact that liquids of any variety and cardboard don't exactly work well together. But, blinded by some engineering euphoria and the determination to build my own toilet, I persevered. In a day, it was complete. There were two main components joined by cardboard tubing. The top piece collected the, uh, stuff. There was a hole in the top for water to be introduced thus washing, well you know, down the tube to the main "collection tank", the bottom piece.

I'm sure I don't need to tell you that I actually used it. I'm sure I don't need to tell you that I only used it once. And that, after that use, well, the cardboard didn't hold up all that well. And maybe, just maybe, the whole thing fell apart and kinda leaked. And there's an off-chance I spent the rest of the day trying to cut out the piece of pink insulation that was, uh, sullied. And that I made the discovery that a good combination of your dad's cheap cologne and some deodorant really does cover the pee smell in said insulation.

(P.S. - Its occurred to me in writing this how terribly embarrassing this story is. Do you see how much I love you guys? Just how many people are going to tell you about building their own toilets? Or is it possible that I'm the only person in the history of the universe that I'm the only kid who had cardboard and a dream?)

Posted by Chris at August 11, 2005 8:14 AM

Aw, I'm sure you're not the only one that tried it... you're just the only one to publish the story on the internet. :)

Posted by: amber at August 11, 2005 8:46 AM

hee hee hee - did you parents know whether to laugh or scream? That's pretty ingenius thinking for a kid. :-)

Posted by: carrster at August 11, 2005 8:48 AM

The diagram is...great. LOL I hope u you're not planning on any of this creative engineering for Mia when it's time for potty training!

Posted by: Michelle at August 11, 2005 8:52 AM

hey... that's how all great inventors start out.. building cardboard toilets in their attic. can't say you didn't learn anything from the experiment.

Posted by: jodi at August 11, 2005 8:52 AM

oh. my. god. that's hilarious. and for some reason, with out ever having met you, i can totally see you doing that as a child. classic!

Posted by: Judy at August 11, 2005 9:14 AM

Ha, you are awesome. I loved to deconstruct things as a kid too. I remember MY smith corona typewriter stopped working one day so I took the ribbon cartridge entirely apart and could not get it back together. I thought I'd completely broken the typewriter and it was days before I told my parents.

Posted by: A.K. at August 11, 2005 9:15 AM

You could probably solve a big mystery for the current homeowners if you spill the beans to them (that is, if your family no longer lives there). Yep, they've probably wondered for years why there's an odd smell on a hot, sunny day.

Posted by: Dooneybug at August 11, 2005 9:42 AM

Great story. Some kids are just destined to take things apart. My 18 month old son got a truck with a battery (for the headlights) for his birthday. He saw his Dad put the batteries in, so he knew it could be taken apart. And he did. It was never the same.

Posted by: cassie-b at August 11, 2005 9:44 AM

Hahaha! That is a cute story though :))

Posted by: Sweety at August 11, 2005 9:50 AM

Thats a awesome story.. I used to take thing apart and put them back together.. several frantic calls were made by my grandmother to my mother when I was that age. Anyway thanks for sharing.

Posted by: Angelia at August 11, 2005 10:01 AM

Thank you for being a good sport and telling us the story. It's a great story!! See what kids get into, when they don't have video games to melt their brains?

Posted by: samantha at August 11, 2005 10:21 AM

You know what? All I can think is "If Mia inherits that gene paybacks will be SUCH a bitch".

Posted by: Stacy at August 11, 2005 10:21 AM

Funny! Well, at least you'll be prepared with helpful suggestions when Mia decides to add a spa to her room.

Posted by: Julie at August 11, 2005 10:33 AM

That's some funny shit. Literally.

Posted by: Jason at August 11, 2005 11:30 AM

I adore that story. Yes, it is embarrassing, but you can get away with it. It's those of us for whom those stories aren't expected that have to watch what we say. :)

Posted by: Zandria at August 11, 2005 11:59 AM

Wow, Chris. I mean, wow. Actually, that is totally something that my boyfriend would have done as a child. I should check with him on that.

Posted by: Heather at August 11, 2005 12:27 PM

Thanks for the giggle on a REALLY bad day, and I doubt (well, I know for a fact) you are not the first child to use engineering skills to do something which seems like a perfectly good idea at the time

Posted by: Stephanie at August 11, 2005 12:28 PM

dude, all you needed to do was cut a hole in the outer wall, stick it out and pee. ta-da! you're not a true engineer unless you can think of the simple solutions. tee hee.

Posted by: tj at August 11, 2005 12:32 PM

LOL great story! I as a kid was pretty inventful. I tried to build a rollercoaster with a skatboard, wood boards and concret blocks. Good thing I had little sisters to test

Posted by: veronica at August 11, 2005 12:36 PM

Hee! That was so much more intricate than I had imagined. Insane. And your parents never found out? Genius.

Posted by: Fraulein N at August 11, 2005 12:40 PM

Ooh man were you drunk when this idea came up? lOL that was a great laugh, thanks!

Posted by: angel at August 11, 2005 12:44 PM

That was a great story! I hope if I have kids, they are inventive and creative. Of course, it will be a terrible blow to my esteem if I have a child who is not artistically inclined. I won't know how to relate to him/her. heh

Wow, Rhonda. Way to ramble :)

Thanks for sharing! I once uh...threw up all over my dad when all his friends were over! And um...ooh, here's one! When I was about six, my mom and I were at a department store in town (not a fancy one...Anthony's..if anyone remembers those) and I found a pair of crotchless panties. I thought they were defective! I ran up to my mom, shrieking about how defective these panties were because they HAVE A BIG HOLE IN THE CROTCH!!!!!!

My mother? Mortified.

Posted by: Rhonda at August 11, 2005 12:58 PM

See? This is exactly what I'm talkin' about! Everybody is blogging that they got nothing to write about and I say Hey! The best writers on the net are blogging about poop and pee! What's the problem? This means we ALL have something to write about. Get busy, folks. And Chris- my parents, with their SunPost composting toilet in the tip of the U.P. of Michigan could use your guidancce when you're free...

Posted by: vicki at August 11, 2005 1:01 PM

You should have become a toilet engineer. You missed your calling. Truly. ;-)

Posted by: Jazzy at August 11, 2005 2:27 PM

this was just too funny. and i can't believe you just told the whole world about it.

Posted by: laura at August 11, 2005 4:12 PM

I think we're all glad that story didn't end w/ you doing "#2". :)

Posted by: Junkie at August 11, 2005 4:39 PM

ROFL!!! Love the diagram... Sounds like my hubby. His parents say he took apart everything too, hehe

Posted by: Tammy at August 11, 2005 4:57 PM

wow, you are somethign else, lets just leave it at that, lol........cardboard tubes, LOL!!!!

Posted by: lizabetty at August 11, 2005 6:29 PM

Yes you are the only one. Thanks for sharing, though. It means a lot to us ;)

Posted by: ava at August 11, 2005 6:29 PM

AHAHAHAHAHA...took me a while to stop laughing in order to comment! I do in fact feel the love you must have for all of us readers and the faith you have in our love for you. It only made me love ya more, you toliet-making freak! ;)

Posted by: Kate at August 11, 2005 6:33 PM

That is probably the funniest story I've ever heard! Thanks for the laugh.
I'm not sure if you're the only one to ever attempt to build a toilet, but like Amber said, you're probably the only one to publish it on the internet. ;)

Posted by: Kitty at August 11, 2005 8:35 PM

I think that's great! What wonderful creativity. You had an idea and made it happen, even if it fell apart in the end.

Posted by: Milly at August 11, 2005 8:38 PM

never thought a toilet chat could go on that long, or be that popular... NICE!


Posted by: Tony at August 11, 2005 8:45 PM

All I can say is I am pretty much hysterical with laughter right now!!!

But, you better be careful. Have your parents ever told you that they hope you have 10 kids just like you when you grow up? Mine told ME that, but God messed up... instead of giving me 10 kids like me, he gave me 1 kid 10 times WORSE than me. LOL.

Posted by: Mandy at August 11, 2005 9:42 PM

You should probably keep a scrapbook of this stuff, just so Mia knows the stuff she DOESN'T have to try, since you've already taken care of it for her.

Posted by: Queen Of Ass at August 12, 2005 12:25 AM

Oh man - I hope Sierra never reads this and gets an idea.... LOL - that's too funny!

Posted by: Marie at August 12, 2005 8:46 AM