Toilet

I pee for a long time. Which is great. I pee for long enough and it is great enough that I wonder if this is the act I should be seeking to preserve. Which, as the wondering does not cease, make me wish to be done with it, the peeing and the walking and the sexing and the loving, to be at home in bed next to a breathing Reb who will hate me or love me or both when I will have had sex with Antoinette.

Such a time may never come. I pee. My pee mixes with the pee of Antoinette and dilutes hers, or concentrates it. It far outdoes hers. I believe. I cannot know. I was not here to measure the volume of her production or the length of time she produced. A matter of faith then that the probability of another peeing as long as I is inconsequentially small. Although if she has equaled me in this attenuated exercise, that poor poor longhaired vivacious young woman, we may unfortunately be meant for each other for the moment. Bladders may seem to have nothing to do with it, and indeed they do, have nothing to do, in this instance, with it, as my bladder is not why I still pee, but why shouldn’t our bladders mean we are meant for each other versus any other organ if our bladders do have something to do with it?

Apparently I have time to survey the bathroom. Which is an exciting proposition. Or something to do while I pee. Which, as you can imagine, I need. As, you can imagine, how tiresome it becomes. I am anyhow always looking for something to do. Which is how I got into spending all day alone collecting sticks and gathering stones, depending on the day. Which also gets tiresome. The always looking for something to do, not the collecting sticks and gathering stones. Though usually I do not have to talk about it so much, which helps. The talking about also gets tiresome. If I am lucky enough to leave the house before the family wakes and return after they bed down, I may pass an entire day without encountering a soul. I may then pass said day without a word. For I am not the kind of person who converses with myself, much less others, it is your presence that draws it out of me, if you left I could stop going on and on, which is not how I wish to spend my few brief moments of existence. Yes, I am quite capable of transacting sticks and stones in town without exchanging words. Numbers is what we talk in town after all, and I have digits on my hands. Stick to the basics. Yes, today is a rare day. Far from home, far from a wordless day. Far from alone, you are with me today, of all God forsaken days to have a witness or compatriot or accomplice, and Antoinette is with me, or has been and will be. She is inside or outside the door at the moment.

My God I am still leaking and have yet to begin to give an account of the bathroom and have begun to call on my unreliable and amorphous God of dubious existence. The situation must be dire. I have not to the best of my knowledge, and if we do not by now take my knowledge with a grain of salt then we will swallow anything, called on my God since I sired my fifth or sixth child, which is the last one I explicitly remember siring, and also coincidentally the one Reb says has a spark of God in him or her, what with the red hair and the plastic wrap on the toilet seat and the soiled toilet paper dangling from all of our neighbors’ trees, and we do not even have neighbors, I do not believe in them, our trees then or nobody’s, so that the neighbors all say The devil’s in that one. Be careful what you believe. All of which may have come to pass because I called on my God while Reb and I reconsummated our union, or perhaps it had nothing to do with the words but with the infinite quality of that particular bout of loving, which lasted several days as I recall, we decided to love like turtles that time, slowly and precisely, if indeed that is how turtles love. Yes, those were a good couple days, good is not enough of a word but it was good, the quality of the act being what is important, the quality being such that you or me or anyone would feel compelled to call on a God in which we may or may not believe, using whatever words dribble or do not dribble from our lips, not the words but the dribble is what is important.

I am pissing away my life.

Good. Got that out of my system. It may have hurt you, but it hurt me more, rest assured, that stone. It caused no uncertain splash to accompany the pain, which they, those who say things, say is like giving birth, though I do not believe them, mostly because they say anything, and also because I know a woman who gives birth often. I have always passed a lot of stones, none of which have lived to be babies, but what I have done or not done is somehow beside the point. Which is that that stone seems to have been damming a reservoir of urine hidden in my distended bladder. The point is I pee more. Perhaps what is required of me to end the pee is to provide a vivid description of Antoinette’s bathroom, as I have implied. Which implies that I created the necessity of the bathroom description by my very implication of its necessity, which implies that I create my own if, then logic: If I describe the bathroom in excruciating and unnecessary and excessive and obnoxious detail, then I will stop peeing. Which implies I created or create the law by which I currently live or do not live as the case may be. Which is a neat, if too neat, implication to imply.

The toilet is a normal toilet. White, a porcelain bowl, a lid of wood, open, a seat of wood worn smooth, open. To give the toilet some personality, let us hang the water closet from the wall, one of those raised, old-fashioned cisterns with a pull chain that, I am assuming here, the engineers must have hung so as to provide a greater distance for the water to fall and accelerate and thereby achieve greater velocity and more flushing power. Why you do not see such raised cisterns anymore I do not pretend to know. Perhaps the acceleration of water has increased over the years, which may imply that gravity has increased, or perhaps less aqueous velocity is necessary to trigger the siphon, or perhaps less siphon is necessary to dispel the former contents of our bowels, which are the contents of our bowls. Perhaps our bowel contents are less than they once were. Perhaps we are getting more efficient. In a word, better.

Oh for that to be the last word. We will let it lie. In spite of its old-fashionedness, this toilet works like most toilets in the free world. The closeted water when released falls past the toilet bowl outlet and due to its greater relative velocity to the water in the toilet bowl establishes a negative, or positive depending on your frame of reference, pressure gradient. Bernoulli’s principle establishes that as a liquid’s velocity increases, its pressure decreases by means of the conservation of energy. Not by means of. I do not know what the means might be, but the conservation of energy, which states that the energy in a closed system remains constant, nevermind that systems are not closed and constantly leak energy to what we vaguely call heat, which is in fact sometimes heat and sometimes light and occasionally noise and all other manner of God abandoned energies, and even receive the rare energy input at the cost of some other system’s energy, explains it. En sum, as the kinetic energy increases, potential energy decreases, and vice versa. Hence, as the velocity of a fluid increases, its pressure decreases, and vice versa. Lose kinetic energy, gain potential. Lose velocity, gain pressure. I will not define these terms, I feel time slipping away, especially energy. Okay, energy is the capacity to do work. Work is force applied over a distance. Force is the rate of change in momentum per unit time of an object. Distance is the distance from here to there. Time is time. I could sustain and attenuate this definitioning and mention actions and events and past, present, and future, and dimensions and spatiality and the spacetime continuum, but I will not, it all arrives in the same place, or does not arrive there, without ever arriving there it arrives at the limit of physics and words, which spliced and nevertheless continued on become an integral, an indefinite integral without bounds, which is calculus which is math which is toying with numbers which is a language begotten to explain which does not explain, a created game which has no winner and is not fun. Be careful what you believe, how deep you dig, what you say, what you do not say, to what limits you exert yourself, push yourself, pressure yourself. The still dirty water, no, if yes, still no, the dirty still water is under greater pressure than the water descending at a non-zero velocity and is therefore pushed or pulled if the pressure differential is great enough over the hump of the S-pipe holding it back by means of hydrostatic pressure, which is again just what the principle is called, not the means. The S-pipe acts like a dam. The S may as well be a dam. The S is in fact a dam. What I am saying is water will not flow over a hill of its own accord unless the hill is totally submerged. I have moved on to hills, which I did not know, though I do now, having experienced unbeknownst to me an uninspiring moment of knowing, also called a realization, revelation, or grasp, of my talking about hills. I am wrong. I am right about the dam-hill-S-pipe, and about Bernoulli’s principle and all the velocity and pressure buggery which is not the means but the explanation by which planes and birds and really anything I know of flies. Not missiles or rockets or bullets, which are projectiles. Do not fear, I do not intend to describe flight here, which is really much more complicated than Bernoulli’s Principle, and ancillary. As it at this point seems unlikely that I will today fly or be associated with flight, a shame, though my path does bear some kinship to projectile motion, or will.

What I am wrong about is, flying has nothing to do with toilets but the fluid dynamics. Bernoulli’s Principle does not explain the flushing of a toilet. The siphon is the means and explanation by which a toilet flushes. A siphon is initiated when the cistern water is dumped in the bowl, note an epiphany here, and pushes liquid down and up the S-pipe, over the dam, over the hill, past the sewage vapor block, actually compressing the sewage vapor and pushing it before it into the sewage line. The falling wastewater pulls the remaining wastewater after it. Or rather, the wastewater column in the descending waste pipe beyond the toilet has a lesser pressure than what remains in the bowl, and therefore pulls what remains in the bowl behind it until the bowl contents are fully evacuated and the toilets emits the familiar gurgle burp gasp of air breaking the siphon. Or rather, since the exiting wastewater column is at a lesser pressure, the remaining bowl contents are under a greater pressure from themselves and the atmosphere and are therefore pushed, not pulled but pushed, furiously out of the bowl in a mad rush supplanted in the end by a gurgled gasp. Push, pull, out of me into the bowl into the pipe out of the bowl, me pushing pee, pee pushing water, water pushing pee and water, pulling other pee and water pushed by more pee and water and the atmosphere, me not pushing but draining, leaking, dribbling, more than, streaming, pee pulling out of me, please please understand, gasp, gurgle.

Please understand why.

Why?

This explains why a toilet flushes, one kind of toilet, one kind of why. The toilet I pee in does not flush.

Please note that though being right is not important to me because there is no quicker way to ruin a marriage than by being right, I was not entirely wrong in the first place in my initial, exploratory explanation. Pressures and the like are involved and integral in waste removal by siphon toilet. Also, I do believe my initial idea is a plausible and workable idea which would have the added benefit of creating a briefly lived vacuum between the descending water and the bowl wastewater and suggests the possibility of the non-necessity of soiling the clean cistern water by introducing it to the dirty bowl or of cleaning the dirty bowl at all, instead conjecturing a parallel flushing system where the cistern water falls, triggers flush, is pumped back up to the cistern with a little energy input without ever being soiled itself by human waste, and is used again and again and again without the need for outside water, without the need for water outside itself, forever clean and useful and self-contained, once the leaks are clamped and taped and caulked and tightened and cemented, but it is unwise to ever get too married to an idea. Because ideas are unfaithful. For one thing, the cistern water would have to fall very very very fast. For another, the toilet would never be cleaned. Ideas are never as good as they should be. Ideas let you down. What dribble.

To finish with the toilet. Lord, Lord, to be finished with the toilet. The responsibility for my continuation is yours, as you believe it is unrealistic that my by now unrealistic volume of pee has not overflowed the large but finite capacity of the bowl. You are wrong, and I will show you nothing could be further from unrealism, and I would appreciate you not doubting my reality, at least any more than your own. As I fill the bowl we must revisit the siphon. Let me just say this, I do not pee fast enough to trigger the siphon. There, that is enough to say, to explain the whole shebang, but I will elaborate for your pleasure and because you must please understand how this works, please, or I am not, or at least I am for not. For though I pee for a long time and in what I, if not you, would call a torrent, it is not fast enough. As I make water into the toilet the volume of water in the toilet does not rise, yes I know this is miraculous, wait, yes unbelievable, and okay, it rose slightly at the beginning but it has not risen in a long long time, for nearly the entirety of our duration, not since our very beginning. Please permit me to explain this because it is quite magical and if I can sufficiently convey the magic perhaps I will forget I am peeing altogether and thereby cease to pee. If nothing else I would like to not know that I pee. The water rose in the bowl and concomitantly in the S-curve of the outlet pipe until it reached the top of the curve, that is the cusp of the hill which typically dams the bowl’s contents. But now, as I pee, the liquid in the S-pipe wishes to rise, fuck this need to anthropomorphize, to deify, but has nowhere to rise to because there is no more hill. With nowhere to rise, the wastewater falls into the sewage pipe. At the same rate with which I introduce it to the bowl. I trickle into the bowl; I trickle out its orifice in equal quantity. Steadystate, an equilibrium so rarely achieved, a picture of beauty.

Herein is the crux of the siphon: the deposited liquid must enter the bowl fast enough that the S-wastewaterway is filled to the brim with liquid, pushing away all gas, so no air remains in the S-pipe, none, or as near as none as is feasible, which creates a siphon when said liquid filling the waterway falls to the sewage pipe and does all that pushing and pulling nonsense with the rest of it until the bowl is empty. Modern toilets employ a siphon jet to directly deliver the cistern water to the S-wastewaterway with a speed and volume that readily achieves siphon. My bodily engineering does not enable a sufficiently quick delivery of my water column. I do not trigger a flush. The energy in a closed system remains constant. I pee. The beauty does not stop.

Photo by boris van hoytema.

Photo by boris van hoytema.