Space Age Toilets

by Mark Thrice 17. August 2010 06:00

Who knew that fixing up the bathroom could be so tough?  Knowing that I could easily give up on our latest project and wanting to get my “buy in,” my wife worked hard to make sure that I was engaged the whole way through.

“Let’s go look at new toilets!” she suggested.

“Let’s not!” I replied.

“You never know what you might find,” she countered.

“Probably a lot of toilets,” I said.

And guess who was right.

Toilet research has been at a stand still since the discovery of the “flush.” (“Watch, gentlemen, as I push this lever and presto! Everything disappears!” “Where does it go?” “We have no idea…”) There is the porcelain bowl and there is the porcelain water tank. In fact, the best thing that toilet scientists have come up with since 1953 is the cushioned seat. Everything else has remained unchanged…until now.

I found a bold new toilet. One that breaks out of the mold of the common man’s receptacle and approaches the realm of science fiction. Not only is it a streamlined one piecer, but it replaces the everyday “lever” with, not one, but TWO push buttons AND it conserves water as well!

Yes, it’s true. Toilets are now being built with the “push button” technology that’s been available in every other industry for the past fifty years! And I have one.

“Why TWO buttons?” I asked the hardware store guy.

“One for “raindrops” and the other for “driftwood.” ”


Now I want to be very honest with you here. Conserving water has never been high on my list of must-do’s. Why would I want to save the stuff that finds its way into my basement on such a consistent basis?

(Note: I do not conserve mice or hairy spiders, both of which also find their way into my basement on occasion.) But show me a push-button toilet that allows me to separate the raindrops from the driftwood and I am SO in! (I’m betting I can get a remote hooked up to it by the summer.)

This is why I am now “into” the bathroom renovations. What other inventions are out there that I don’t know about? A vanity that makes ice cream? A bathtub that shaves your bum? The sky is now the limit!

Captain Kirk: “Scotty, how long can you hold off the Klingons?”

Scotty: “What are ye doing in there?”

Captain Kirk: “Using this incredible new commode!”

Scotty: “Raindrops or driftwood?”

Captain Kirk: “Unfortunately just raindrops. It would have been cool to “beam” some driftwood into one of their ships.”


Me: “Okay, fine. We have to go to the hardware store anyway. I want to look at new bath tubs.”


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The Two "Dumpsters"

by Mark Thrice 9. August 2010 05:43

Since I have been writing Life 101 for about ten years now, it is no surprise that I am frequently asked parenting questions like the one below. While other, lesser writers would take letters like this to heart and simply “answer” them, I usually choose to take what we in the industry call The High Road. This includes first making a public spectacle of the family in question, THEN answering the letter. I find this method to be far superior (i.e. way funnier).


Dear Mark Thrice,


My 4-year-old son has just reported to me that his brother has pooped in the neighbor’s yard.  I’m not sure what I should do about this, or even what the punishment should be. 

When I questioned the suspect, he confessed, but mentioned that actually both he and his brother (the snitch) had a bowel movement in the grass next door.  They were more than willing to go into graphic detail to explain what happened.

“Where?” I asked.

“Beside the dumpster behind the grocery store parking lot,” Number One replied.

“Oh good,” I thought.  “The offended neighbor doesn’t actually live right next door, but two doors down.” 

            As a (horrified) mother I have to wonder how many people watched as two little white bums pulled down their shorts, crouched (I presume) or squatted (perhaps) and laid one out on the cool green grass.  A part of me knew there was probably no real forethought put into this plan but I just couldn’t let it go at that.

“Why?”  I pleaded, shaking my head as I do time and time again, trying to gain some kind of understanding as to what could possibly be running through their little brains.

“Because we REALLY REALLY had to go!” came the earnest response.

As I stood there with two sets of innocent eyes staring up at me, I calculated the probability of both sets of digestive systems pleading for relief at exactly the same time.  “Not very likely,” was what I came up with.

While I have always hoped that my two boys would share many fond memories, this was definitely NOT what I had in mind.


Worried In Wyoming


Dear Worried,

First of all, I want to thank you for your letter. I had NO idea what I was going to write about and my deadline is mere hours away.

Secondly, you still have several potential problems.

Problem #1: Escalation. How are these boys going to top this—and you know they are going to try.

Problem #2: When they DO try, how quickly can you blame it on their father/older brother/GameBoy?

Problem #3: What to do about “The Evidence”? You have to know that the criminals will always return to the scene of the crime. What they do when get there should terrify you. It does me. Consider how you can address the problem right at their level of understanding. If that doesn’t work, move to another city.



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