June 24, 2015's Weekly Slap:

“Beach Slapped” is what it is because from the moment I first came to the Oregon Coast, most every moment I lived here, and even my last hours here, it was always about the beach. That wasn’t always true of my life, and perhaps that’s been my problem.

Growing up in Colorado, I was a long way from the beach. I don’t care what anyone says, lounging next to a giant lake/ civic water supply is not the beach.

BartonGroverHowe.com:Where to keep up with humor writer Barton Grover Howe. Here, you'll find all of his Beach Slapped columns from The News-Times in Lincoln County, Oregon, excerpts from his latest books and the occasional random musing that would get him fired if he published it in a family newspaper.
I poop, therefore I'm confused
- July, 2000
I’d only been off the plane for 18 hours when I discovered Japan has a lot of cool toilets.  This may seem like a strange thing to say, but it really does.  Heated seats, and circulating air for odor control are just a couple of the features that make them pretty amazing.  Some of them don’t strike me as terribly safe, however.

In my first hour here, I was using my toilet as God intended, when I went to flush it.  Now, on my toilet here, there are a whole myriad of buttons, so I pushed the big one.  There was a lot of noise, a whooshing sound, and suddenly an enormous wave of water came OUT of the toilet seat and soaked me.  This was very disconcerting, as in America it is considered in very poor taste to be attacked by one’s toilet seat.

            However, now thoroughly cleansed, I was free to rise from the seat and investigate further.  I did this by pushing another button on my toilet.  Again, there was a noise, and a little hose came out of the toilet seat.  (Visualize the stomach scene in “Alien”.)  Curious, I looked closer at the hose, at which point it shot me.

Now, from talking to people I know, I have come to learn this is called a “bidet” which is French for, “low-speed enema from the toilet.”  They tell me these are found in a lot of countries. Small consolation; so is malaria.

            But since going to the bathroom is a regular occasion in my life, I resolved to try this cross-cultural feature of my toilet seat the next time the need arose.  And so I did, although this time I guess I hit another button (my toilet has A LOT of buttons) and this time the back of my front was assaulted with cold water.  I could go onto describe this, but suffice to say, this is a polite piece of writing and there are just some things we won’t go into, except to note it’s a good thing my bathroom door actually opens out.

            There are other toilets in Japan, of course, and not all of them attack you.  In the airports they have really cool streamlined futuristic-looking urinals.  I went into the bathroom and immediately declared, “Captain Kirk your potty is waiting.” Fortunately, none of the people in the bathroom understood English, and they just figured I was another mumbling American. Apparently there are a lot of those after a trans-Pacific flight.

            The other kind of toilet I’ve stumbled over – literally – here in Japan is what we’ve taken to calling the squatty potty.  This is a urinal shaped thing, except that it is embedded in the floor, quite a distance from where – ahem – it should be.  Decency prevents me from going too far into depth on this, except to say using this toilet is a lot like going to the bathroom in the woods, except that aim suddenly becomes a lot more critical.  I must say that finding this is the only toilet available after a long night at the bar is about as horrifying experience as one can imagine.  Suddenly those portable toilets in the parks don’t seem quite so bad.

            Now, you may be wondering at this point why all the obsession with toilets?  Well, honestly I’ve been in them a lot.  On our various flights, I’m in them about once every hour, as a result of my “one-can-of-orange-juice, one-glass-of-something-else” in-flight survival plan. I’ll leave the “something-else” to your imagination.  With up to 10.5 hour flights that means, uh . . . well, um . . . well, you do the math, but I was in the bathroom quite a bit.

            It’s been a long 18 hours.