The worst home improvement decision we’ve made to date was to replace the toilet in our main bathroom. When it comes to crappers, there are only two in this house: one in the hall bathroom where we all shower and bathe and so on, and one in the tiny bathroom connected to our bedroom which I can never call a “master” bath because it’s about as roomy as stepping into a box of Saltines. Now, I know better than to complain about a lack of luxurious bathrooms because yes yes, privilege, some people have only one-sixth of a bathroom and it’s always filled with angry hornets, I’m just clarifying that there aren’t a lot of options so you can better understand the situation here.

We had to get a new toilet because the old one was truly old and was causing some sort of water leakage issue that was making the floor sort of distressingly spongy. In retrospect, I would have stuck with the squishy sounds and eventual sinkhole, because at least rotted floorboards can be dealt with when they happen, as opposed to the ongoing hate crime committed by the new toilet.

Who decided how new toilets should work, anyway? Listen, I don’t wake up in the morning and immediately begin plotting the number of ways I can personally contribute to the destruction of our planet before going outside and spending my day plunging a fork into the soil while shouting “How you like THAT, Cascadia Subduction Zone?” but my toilet appears to have been designed as punishment for some dastardly environmental sin. Its water conservation features are obvious, and yet the stingy, reluctant way it functions must surely be a burden on shared resources since multiple flushes are now required when one used to do the job.

You know what I’m talking about, right? There’s less bowl water than the Old, Earth-Killing, Yet Vastly Superior toilets and the flush action is a condiment-sized jar of pure weaksauce. Push the handle and I guess something technically happens but it’s a halfhearted namby-pamby gurgle that takes care of business as long as your business was limited to the first order of business and not the second, if you know what I mean and I think you do. Anything more robust than a slightly moistened solo-square of single-ply and your business hangs around, it endures, it’s the Shackleton Expedition of Business and it’s by god going to live to see another day unless you channel Liam Neeson and start issuing pointed threats about how you have a very particular set of skills, Business Remnants, and they involve a cabinet full of disposable wand sponges and the ability to stick your hands in disgusting places because you’ve been a parent for over a decade.

What I’m talking about is a scenario where all deposits sink through a way-too-shallow water layer and are essentially captured and prominently displayed upon a porcelain shelf — “Cigarette? Cigarillo?” — before being gently bathed with about a teaspoon’s worth of flush. Now, if you’re a caring citizen like myself, you then embark on an unpleasant and time-consuming effort to achieve the elusive Leave-No-Trace status, but if you’re one of my children, you just walk away completely oblivious to the fact that it appears as though someone has attempted to bake a Texas sheet cake in the bowl.

The worst part is that I’m the one who’s constantly dealing with everyone else’s leave-behinds, which means I’m like Winston Wolf from Pulp Fiction except way less cool, armed only with poop-specific problem-solving abilities, and lacking anyone to order around to do the dirty work. You’d think I would learn to take care of the cleanup with as little visual assessment as possible, and yet it happens so often I find myself mentally categorizing each scenario: Ah yes, my old friend, the Hershey Mudslide … an arduous job in terms of quantity and cling factor, yet still preferable to the Dexter Spatter Pattern Sneak Placement Howdy-Do-Doo.

We could replace it, but I’m not confident we’d be able to swap in anything more robust, since the bathroom aisle in every home improvement store seems to be in a competition for environmental bragging rights. While I know I should value going green over seeing brown, the truth is if there were an illegal market of toilets that operate via a steady fuel of spotted owls and polar ice caps, I’d one-click any sumbitch that also provided a pre-1999 flush.

There’s no question where my vote is going this November — when it’s down to a flawed but capable and intelligent human being or an angry animated wad of hairy circus peanut residue clinging to the nation’s collective publish button, I personally feel the choice is clear — but it’s true I might be swayed if only a candidate would address the real issue: when will we make America’s toilets great again?


27 Responses to “It’s Saturday night and I’m ranting about toilets, WITNESS ME”

  1. Ginger on October 1st, 2016 7:43 pm

    A secret shared by those of us who live near the Canadian border…US of A citizens go to Canada and bring back Canadian toilets. Either that or we refuse to give up our prehistoric porcelain.

  2. Cindy on October 1st, 2016 8:12 pm


  3. JanetS on October 1st, 2016 10:08 pm

    Ugh, I’ve been there. What you want is a Toto toilet.

  4. Jeannie on October 2nd, 2016 7:32 am

    Just wanted to say I love your writing! That was fantastic!!

  5. Grace on October 2nd, 2016 10:16 am

    When we remodeled our house, there was one PINK! PINK! bathroom with a PINK! toilet. So we had to basically burn it down and replace everything because as much as I love kitsch (which I don’t), there was no way I was letting that be seared into my eyeballs every morning.
    Anyway, our toilets (a blissful 3 bathrooms) are the ones advertised as being able to flush a basket of golfballs. All I’m saying is that we must have immense output because they are not always up to the challenge. I don’t often miss the 80s and 90s but when it comes to water pressure in showers, toilets, and faucets. (We live in a Southern Water Wars state so we have shit for water pressure.)

  6. Kim on October 2nd, 2016 12:10 pm

    Over these many years you’ve often written about things near and dear to my heart but I don’t know if you’ve ever cut so close to what’s really relevant to my life: my IBS. I will rue the day when we have to replace our 1992 toilets.

  7. Annie on October 2nd, 2016 1:33 pm

    Second vote for Toto. Pricey, but worth it. Handles all manner of the second sort. *Snort* Winston Wolf of poop

  8. Monica on October 2nd, 2016 6:12 pm

    Toto Drake. Low flow, but actually effective flushing. I spent an entire day down the rabbit hole of reading toilet reviews online before our recent bathroom reno. It’s better than the non low flow one that came with our house.

  9. Angella on October 2nd, 2016 7:39 pm

    I am always happy when you write. I also vote that you come to Canada for a toilet. With Matt being a contractor, I can hook you up.

  10. Mary Clare on October 3rd, 2016 6:55 am

    Make toilets GREAAAAAT again. Thanks for the toilet talk with my coffee. Seriously, I’m glad to read your stories!

  11. Jen on October 3rd, 2016 8:28 am

    I love your writing. And given we are building a house next year I am reading the comments and making notes.

  12. Heather on October 3rd, 2016 9:07 am

    So glad to see posts from you again!

  13. Pat on October 3rd, 2016 11:45 am

    I hear your pain. We went with 4 new low-flow toilets in our house a few years back, and the worst one seemed to be in out master (all 4 were the same but not the performance). The Toto is supposed to be excellent but we upgraded to a Pfister and no problemo!

  14. Jo on October 3rd, 2016 1:28 pm

    Awesome writing.

  15. Heidi on October 3rd, 2016 2:52 pm

    Toto! They are the shit. Ha.

  16. TheRachelSyn on October 3rd, 2016 8:46 pm

    Love that you’re posting again! We put in American Standard Studio Cadet 3s in our recent bathroom renos (3 new toilets)…but I’m also writing from Canada, so not sure if the model would be the same in the US or not?

  17. Sharon on October 4th, 2016 5:21 am

    My husband has replaced pretty much all parts in one of our old toilets to avoid exactly what you are describing. We have a newer toilet that needs a plunger on standby at all times. The two teenage boys do not help this situation one bit.

  18. Maggie on October 4th, 2016 3:45 pm

    I just want you to know that I’m exerting a monumental amount of effort not to go on an extended rant in your comment section. Let’s just leave it at we had to replace our 90s toilet in our master bath a few years ago and I hate the replacement toilet like no other. What a useless piece of bullshit it is. Total. Crap.

  19. Deb on October 4th, 2016 8:27 pm

    Dude, have I missed your writing. Pure poo poetry.

  20. Sarah on October 5th, 2016 10:07 am

    Adding to the chorus of the many who are happy to read your writing! And also, I have a fantastic toilet (my husband works for Ferguson Kohler) it is A Kohler, 1.6 gallons per flush and I’ve never had to plunge it. It WORKS.

  21. Shawna on October 5th, 2016 12:12 pm

    Disclaimer: I’m in Canada, so my toilets may not match what’s available to you…

    Okay we have a Toto toilet, and it is by far the worst of the 3 in our house. Nothing solid flushes without leaving a swirled line of “evidence”, and the bowl front is angled such that if you are a person who has to sit to pee, that pee, um, how to put this… bounces back? So that you are sprinkled lightly not only with pee, but your own pee after it has been in contact with porcelain that has also been in contact with the pee of others.

    Our other two toilets are American Standard. One we bought after research suggested it was great (it’s one of the ones capable of flushing a bucket of golf balls – someone else above mentioned it too), and it’s… okay, but you have to hold the handle down for a bit until the flush is properly underway. The other is the cheaper one that the plumber recommended and picked up at Home Depot. I don’t know the model, but it’s by far the best toilet of the three. No bouncing pee, no swirls left behind, no flushes that stop prematurely.

  22. Pete on October 5th, 2016 10:33 pm

    I have an air assist toilet that the kids and wife use since they can only crap tent stakes. That thing could flush a small cat, best investment ever!

  23. Stacy on November 3rd, 2016 3:24 pm

    Laughed until I cried. Just genius. Because, TRUTH. Ah, the Hersey highway of shame… saving the planet used to be a tree hugging happy adventure before low flush toilets.

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