You will not be very long into a relationship before you have to confront one of the biggest conundrums since the invention of the flush toilet. Seat Up, or Seat Down! Now before the invention of the flush toilet, people used to have only two ways of handling nature call. The outhouse (or privy), and the chamber pot. Outhouses were primarily a daytime convenience.. At night, when you woke up from sleep with an urge to go, you would avail yourself of the chamber pot and never have to worry about dressing up to walk through snow drifts to reach the privy. There was never any controversy with a chamber pot lid. Everyone was happy to put the lid on those little suckers! The privy was a mainstay in the backyards of North Americans since before the pilgrims settled in New England. French colonies in Canada and earlier colonies in Virginia both used outhouses. The modern outhouse that you see on construction sites is called the port-a-pottie. Please do not confuse these with the traditional outhouse. Port-a-Potties have all of the issues that modern toilets have with respect to the seat up / seat down issue. I digress.
The core design of an outhouse was essentially the same everywhere. The building was about the size of a modern powder room. Inside was an enclosed bench about thirty six inches high, with a hole perfectly sized to fit your butt. Often well sanded to eliminate splinters. Children usually used to have to use a stool to reach, so one was usually left inside for that purpose.
Placed conveniently beside the seat on the bench was an old copy of a Sears Roebuck catalog (apparently Canadians used the Timothy Eaton's Mail order catalog). It was essentially there to use for toilet paper, but was also used for reading material as well. These catalogs were delivered free of charge to all house holds in the United States and Canada every quarter, and our frugal ancestors were the champions of recycling.
The merchant class of society was not to be denied their social upscale aspirations, so they came up with a couple of enhancements for the common privy. Both of these enhancements came down to a variation in design, often referred to as the 'two holer'. For young families growing up, the second hole was cut to child size proportions and had a small step in front of it so kids could climb up to the level of the 'one height suits all' bench top. As the children left home, this now unused small hole was usually enlarged for women to use. Sometimes the step height was adjusted as well. For some reason, the accepted standard was for men to use the left hole and women the right. It is unclear where this practice originated, but it was well accepted in society.
Now the real genius of the out house was the height of the bench top. These were about 36 inches off the floor, and most privies had a two step stool that was used as a foot rest for sitting adults, and as the only viable way for children to do either type of business. That high bench top meant that guys who were standing up could always hit the hole with no splatter. This anti-splatter design would make most modern women stand up and cheer if it were available in a modern bathroom!
The forerunner of the modern flush toilet was first invented in the late seventeenth century by Sir John Harrington, and debuted in the royal palace for Queen Elizabeth 1. (this is likely why we have the expression 'going to the john') The original design of Sir John was used for about 75 years. In the middle of the 18 hundreds, a man named Thomas Crapper made several distinct improvements to the design. He managed to get quite wealthy, although never knighted. To this day his name is immortalized in the expression 'going to the crapper'. (The mythical person 'Sir John Crapper' never actually existed. Likely it was an inadvertent merging of these two names.)
We all appreciate the beauty of the concept of the flush toilet, but it has some built in flaws that have led to today's social dilemma of 'seat up or seat down'. The first flaw in the design was the height of the toilet. It is a scant 30 inches tall. .Because of this poor choice of vertical dimension, they tried to solve the problem by making the bowl bigger around to minimize splatter issues caused by standers. Of course the problem with the larger bowl was that it was now physically possible to fall into the toilet bowl. So to solve this side effect of trying to solve the design adjustment of a bad height dimension, they designed the flip up toilet bowl seat. The concept of the flip up seat was to have a hole small enough that you did not fall in during sitting operations, but could be flipped up out of the way to give a larger target for standing operations. Most people thought that this was an excellent solution, and this design persists to the present day.
The upshot of all these small design changes was the introduction to society of a controversy as to whether the seat should be left up or down when finished. This has turned into a male versus female battle royal that is unlikely to ever see a resolution any time soon, if ever. So you can see that all the issues surrounding the modern flush toilet has to do with the initial poor choice of height!
Looking at the issue from the male perspective, they have to actually touch the seat to lift it. Toilet seats are not the most sanitary thing in the world, but the next place that they put their hand is on their privates . (Most women reading this do not believe for a minute that men actually think about such things, but lets try to take the high road here for a bit). However, men have been conditioned, especially when using a public washroom, to just live with the fact that the seat may not be in the correct position for what they want to do and to just deal with it. Men will seldom touch a toilet seat twice, so when done they leave the seat in the same position that they used it in. Because men will urinate about 4 times for every sitting operation, there is an 80% chance that the seat is in the correct position for the next man to use. Men never complain about the seat being in the wrong position. They just accept the fact that a lot of the time it is in the right position, and sometimes it is not. One big difference between men and women is nighttime behavior. When a man gets up to use the toilet in the middle of the night, they turn on the light. It is an absolute necessity. Because they can now see what they are doing, there are never issues involving falling into the toilet.
Looking at it from a female perspective, there is only one way that they use a toilet, and that is with the seat down, locked, and loaded. If a woman wakes up in the middle of the night with an urge to urinate, they will often use the bathroom with the light off so they do not have to become fully awake. Because of this they are a lot more prone to falling into toilets with raised seats turing the wee-wee hours of the night. Since men always have the light on, there are seldom any traumatic incidents with them.
So we have now covered both the reason for the problem in the first place, and the different perspectives of each sex to this greatest of social problems.
So what innovations are there to solve this problem? Well people have tried everything from self cleaning toilet seats that cannot be flipped up, to toilet seats that automatically lower with each flush. All of these systems were never adopted because of the expense and the installation complexity. But of course the real issue is that all of them were just treating they symptom of the problem and not really addressing the source. Most women are sneaky about how they deal with this. They paint the guest powder room shocking pink, and then force the men of the household to use that exclusively.
But likely the best advice for any relationship is to respect each other's space. When you are a guy and at her place, just be sure to put the seat down. If you are visiting his place, put the seat down and use it. Leave it down whenever you use it. Guys never complain about what position they find the toilet seat in, they just do their business and leave. If a man starts complaining about toilet seat position, you can rest assured that the woman has already been going on at him about what position he left the seat in last time.
So end your griping!
Relationships should be about love and romance. Relationships should never be about complaints and other petty crap!
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