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My Fear of Toilets


When I was a child the noise of toilets frightened me. I did not want anyone to hear the sound of my urine striking the water, let alone the cacophony and uproar of actually flushing the toilet. This I could not bear and in fact I often did not do it, especially at friends' houses. (The truth is it wasn't toilets that frightened me but other people.)

I soon learned to to pee sitting down so the urine would hit the bowl first and then pour noiselessly into the water. As I got older I eventually developed enough accuracy to do this standing, but for a long time I took whatever precautions necessary for total toileting silence. Unfortunately this didn't solve all my problems because once I was seated the space beneath my ass and genitals was buried in darkness.

This frightened me even more. I worried that a snake was hiding in the plumbing with its tail dangling down the pipe—perhaps all the way to the sewer!—and its head just inside the opening, waiting to strike. I peered constantly between my legs for my assailant. When I was defecating I also used to imagine a race of shit-eating sewer witches in the sewer underground, waiting hungrily for me to flush.

I still think that the patience of predators is their most disturbing trait, that horrible capacity to simply wait. Spiders are a particularly terrifying example of this. I once worked in an underground parking lot where the halogen lights ran alongside exposed piping. A million spiders hung their nets there and feasted on moths all summer. It was awful.

(From What Comes to Mind.)

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