Picture this. It is Sunday evening and you are at a popular coffee pub in the city. The air conditioner set at a convenient sub-zero temperature for the pleasure of all the schoolgirls in white diaphanous tops, who constitute by the way approximately 99.997% of the coffee-pub going population. The rest incidentally, made up by sensibly sweater-clad camera-cellphones bearing schoolboys who have come to watch said girls in diaphanous white tops.
You find a suitably noisy place near the speaker blasting venga boys and strategically positioned near the shrillest girl in the room who is right now deep in intellectual conversation with her friends (Oh my gaaaawd, Shah Rukh Khan is so cute ya!!). You order from their fascinatingly wide-ranging menu. It proudly proclaims they have Belgian coffee, Viennese coffee, Ethiopian coffee, freetrade coffee, fair-trade coffee, A-grade coffee, nonbiode-grade coffee, coffee flavoured chocolate, coffee flavoured tea, tea flavoured coffee, tea flavoured coffee with chocolate, coffee that has been especially prepared by Kenyan coffee growers and flown thousands of miles across the globe, topped with chocolate tenderly airlifted from Switzerland and lying on a bed of ice made from the purest mineral water from the snowiest peaks of France and infused with milk from the finest specimen of a cow in the entire herd of one that Mr.Gondaswamirajagopalacharulingam the milkman across the street owns. And all you need to do is auction a small portion of your ancestral property for that delectable cup of steaming liquid. Quite a bargain I’d say for something of incalculable cultural and geographical importance.
Once you have finally decided to settle for a cup of…. Coffee (Wow, you like to live life on the edge don’t you? Coffee. Gee, whatever will you do next, ask for a stirrer?) You may then blissfully sip through your ice-laced straw your ice cold coffee with crushed iced, generously sprinkled with ice shavings and served in frosted glass while slowly losing sensation in the right side of your body. An experience not to be missed.
After sufficient time soaking in the am-bay-yonce, that’s what they call it these days, as any convent-educated chick worth her airlifted-free-trade-salt will tell you, you realize to your absolute amazement that for some strange reason you seem to have an uncontrollable urge to pee. Ah must’ve been all that distilled glacial ice water from the snowy peaks of Alps. Damned Frenchies, should’ve known you couldn’t trust them.
Now comes the most perilous part of the entire exercise. Using The Public Convenience or UTPC as it is known in certain circles. UTPC is not something to be taken lightly. It is a serious craft, a technique perfected after years of practice. A good User of The Public Convenience (also named UTPC, betraying their rather warped sense of toilet humour) will enjoy the dubious distinction of being able to go anywhere. People on the street will point at him and remark, ah there goeth a man who will go places. And he will. Anywhere and everywhere with no reservations whatsoever. Such is the power he shields. Behold the UTPC, not to be mistaken with the MOPN, Makers of Public Nuisance, a very similar breed but lacking somewhat in the finer nuances of the art form.
For the first timer, Using The Public Convenience will be a daunting task and with good reason. It is an event of monumental peril. For the benefit of Novices In The Wise-use of Indoor Toilets (NITWIT) everywhere, I shall outline here the proper way to UTPC, reproduced with permission from the UTPC manual edition 11.34i.
First, ask staff where be the dreaded place. Do not be dismayed when he empathically points towards the backdoor exit effectively indicating that you remove yourself from premises for venturing to ask such a blasphemous question. He is merely pointing out to you that the abode you seek is appropriately located at the most deserted locale in the entire city. If you are in luck, you will find arrows and signposts for the benefit of the spatially challenged. These will invariably take you along a trajectory motion that has you going over every inch of free floorspace at least three times in either direction so that not even the mouse hidden in the third shelf of the coffee cupboard has any doubt as to your destination and purpose of visit.
Once you find yourself face to face with the great wooden barrier, adorned with the innocuous looking M or W or figurine, take a deep breath, hold it in, turn the doorknob and walk inside. Once inside, you will find a small rusty latch barely capable of fastening two sheets of paper, much less locking a supposedly sturdy wooden door. Nevertheless, you have no choice but to rely on this small piece of equipment entrusted with the noble task of safeguarding your modesty from the hundred-kg six-footer frantically pounding on the already splintered wooden door. As you have already guessed, being a UTPC calls for enormous reserves of strength and willpower. And faith.
Now, fish out the pack of tissues that you had the presence of mind to pack in your bag and use it to lock the door, taking care not to let any part of your anatomy make contact with the latch. The reason for this exercise shall be revealed later. For now, yours is not to question why, yours is but to do or die.
The WC. Assuming that the coffee pub is a place of reasonably decentish reputation, it will boast of an apparatus befitting its international clientele. Ay, therein lies the rub. The problem with this sort of advanced equipment is the inescapable act of making contact with the germ infested seat, a teeming hotbed of bacteria and various fungi diseases no doubt rubbed off from the hordes of posteriors past, not so well-versed in the fine art of UTPC. A daunting problem for the totally clueless, but not for you, the well-informed reader.
With the utmost cautiousness, fish out another wad of tissues from your bag and use to tear off the first 3.4 metres of the toilet roll. Oh yes, it LOOKS clean but who knows what microscopic orgies are taking place as we speak on that seemingly G-rated white strip of paper. To be on the safe side, tear off 3.45 metres of the strip and hygienically discard. The rest is what constitutes the usable portion of the roll.
With the entire surface area of the toilet seat covered in paper, which by the way you have handled only through a buffer layer of your own wad of tissues, fashioned into a makeshift glove by now, you may now proceed to perform the trickiest part of this entire task. The actual mechanics of the act under discussion are beyond the scope of this manual and so will be left to the interested reader to pursue at his leisure, if he be so inclined. Having thus safeguarded yourself from any unpleasant contamination, you may proceed to do your business in peace, remembering of course, that the entire exercise of lining the seat was merely a precautionary measure and that an experienced UTPC will endeavor to perform a series of acrobatic maneuvers that shall leave him delicately poised approximately six inches from the actual object under question. Depending on one’s positional tactics, flexibility and aiming skill, he may adjust the gap to something more suitable although it is strongly recommended that one maintains no less than the industry standard of four inches. After much scientific research and experimentation, experts believe that this is the minimum allowance of gap required for an optimum performance. This may be regarded as too less by the beginner but more experienced users will tell you that it is not the length that matters but the technique of usage.
Now that the worst is over, you may heave a sigh of relief and reach for the… aha, caught you! Cease and desist at once. The first-time user will undoubtedly make the mistake of letting down his guard, assuming that the act is over and that the danger has passed. A catastrophic folly. Do not be caught unawares, with the proverbial pants down as it were. Before you reach out for that seemingly innocent knob, take a moment to pause and consider the countless strangers with questionable hygiene habits who have stood before, poised in the exact pose with outstretched hand precariously positioned inches away from The Knob, bearing the dried remains of a hundred thousand possibly venereal-diseased sanitary-challenged Neanderthals.
Be afraid, be very afraid.
Slowly remove yourself from the vicinity, taking utmost care not to disturb the air around it, position self on one leg and hit The Knob with boot-clad foot of other leg. Using same procedure, meticulously wrap faucet in shroud of tissue before turning it to wash hands. The reader will do well to remember that the latch is to be treated with the same air of suspicion and mistrust, thanks to the alarming number of hygiene-impaired individuals who do not wash their hands after use.
Now that you have safely exited the area of peril, unscathed (one would hope), breathe. And now, on to the task of dealing with certain door-pounding individuals of giant-proportions. Such topics sadly are beyond the scope of discussion. Be afraid, be very afraid.