I am about to reveal something very personal, embarrassing and something which some people may find absolutely disgusting. But at the same time, those who wander far and wide will understand unexpected facilities and bodily fluids are a part of life when travelling.
Rewind back a few years when I was wandering the streets of Venice in Italy completely charmed from head to toe, but at the same time in need of a coffee. Finding a street side café with a toilet was essential, as coffee mixed with foods tends to cause my stomach to go a little bit loco.
After enjoying some food and a leisurely coffee, I knew I had to go and expel before continuing my love affair with Venice. I had heard horror stories of toilets in Europe, but as yet, I had been fortunate to experience none. Perhaps complacency had set in, I’m not sure. All I knew back then, was that without a gall bladder to effectively process rich foods, it wasn’t going to be pretty.
In fact, by the time I reached the toilet, I knew I had to move pretty fast. However, it was occupied. I waited and waited, almost shaking with desperation as I stared down the door. Seriously, get out! Just get the hell out and let me in. By this time my eyes were practically rolling around in their sockets, I was holding on with every fibre of my being, willing the door to open so I could rush in and let loose.
Then, open it did. I couldn’t tell you what the person looked like, because I was already focused on undoing my jeans as I rushed through the door. What I did notice though, was the ceramic hole in the ground. How was I going to squat and balance over this thing?
Who decided to keep this horror surprise at the back of an otherwise respectable looking café anyway? Why? What in God’s name were they thinking? This can’t be real. Somebody help me! Oh my god I am busting.
Down went the jeans and squat I did, otherwise it was all happening regardless. Yes, I was at that crucial point when the body can wait no longer.
Nobody needs a word by word description of the following events. Let’s just say all the beautiful rich Italian food I’d stuffed myself with over the last couple of days must have been holding out for this moment. Scary, is the word that comes to mind. As I balance precariously over the white, yes, pristine white bowl hole in the floor, I sigh with utter relief as my body clears the debris.
I want to thank the Lord, my parents, the café for providing a bathroom, all the people who have helped me through life, because this splashing crashing dump feels like winning an Oscar, like the highlight of my life right now, like bliss to the power of ten, and for that I am forever grateful.
Right there and then, it should all be over, and theoretically, I should be able to go back out and canoodle with Venice some more. I hear a knock at the bathroom door, there is an impatient person waiting to get in. I finally stand and survey the scene. Suddenly, I am in the stuff of nightmares. The white ceramic creation fixed to the floor is no longer white.
It is horrifying evident I have somehow missed the hole. I feel ill. How can I possibly open that bathroom door with someone else waiting to burst it? I cannot.
For a few seconds I stand there, my mind racing, hazel eyes about to release a river. This can’t be happening to me. Yet, it is. The person standing on the other side of that bathroom door could be the café owner, a local with a temper who will run me out of Venice and plaster my picture over the internet painting me as a toilet screamer. What is a toilet screamer? Who cares! Seriously, just somebody tell me what to do.
But there is only me.
Nothing on this earth can move me to open that door right now. I make a decision. Like a person possessed, I start tearing off wads of toilet paper and wiping what feels like a crime scene down. It is truly horrific. After using all available toilet paper, I survey my handiwork - far from perfect, but no longer simulating a crime scene.
I hear ‘the knock’ again, louder. Actually, it’s three knocks in a row.
My heart rate soars. I wash my hands like a demon and exit the bathroom like a cheetah on steroids - I don’t look back.