Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Pissoir

One of my favorite things about Amersterdam when I first visited five years ago, was the pissoir. I was really happy when I saw them here, and really sad when I heard they were going to be removed. (Fortunately, that was a rumor and they are still around.)

In NYC any dark corner is an outdoor toilet. And that can start to stink, especially in the summer. I've know women to scream out the window and throw things at men who are peeing on the stoop below, or next to their taxi cab. I like it that I live in a city that is civilized enough to provide a place to pee where you can concentrate on your business and not have to keep an eye out over your shoulder for a cop or a woman with a good throwing arm.

Granted, it's no picnic inside that little loop of metal. Guys often leave stuff in there. I recently saw a soda can, an empty cigarette box, a banana peel (because you really want to eat something while you're standing there), a candy wrapper, a few napkins and some cigarette butts. Plus, the whole thing is splattered with urine. It's totally gross. But it's a place to pee. It's better than the side of a building, eh? I have a few of them mapped out in my mind for when I need them. There's one by the Homomonument, for instance.

And because the city understands what it could mean to have thousands of drunken men peeing all over the city , on the weekends, they put out temporary four-sided urinals here and there. It's a little disconcerting to pee out in public like that, but, again, it's nice that it's provided. I'm serious. You want these things in a city like this. Guys will pee anywhere. We can and we will. Not all guys, but enough where it's worth the city's while to provide them.

Sorry if that was gross.


Alyssa said...

That's hysterical!! I love it. I mean I would never go near because 1) I'm a girl and 2) its got to be god awful in there. But men will pee anywhere so give them a place...brilliant!

Elemmaciltur said...

There are toilets at most tube stations here in Munich...although I find them pretty gross, but I think it's pretty clean comparing to other places.

Eric & Tony said...

Wow. That potty is gross and kinda hot at the same time.

Brook Shields sounds wonderful!

Littlelou said...

Oh my gawd!! I hate those things..especially mid August. I remember the plastic open air ones in Haarlem for an event as even worse though. Eurghhh! Pass me the smelling salts! Haha

Mama Mojo said...

I was walking with a friend once in Amsterdam who wanted to have a drink at a place that just happened to be right across from one of those. It didn't occur to me that she'd chosen such an undesirable location until a man walked in there, and peed. It was summertime, and hot. Not very appealing. In Rotterdam they have those portable plastic ones. In Schiedam, they simply pee on the old church, or wherever, which is eroding the 13th century brick.

I was amazed that there were bathrooms in the train stations in Munich that you could freely walk into. As far as I could tell, you didn't even have to pay.

As a girl in Holland, you have to locate the bathrooms in stores, bars, etc., and then pay .50.

If they somehow devised something like this for women, I'm sorry to say, but I'm sure that some unsavory men would find ways of peeping. There actually is such a thing as a urinal for women....

Have you ever been in France, and encountered one of those toilets you have to stand over? It looks like a shower, but you have to stand there to pee. I guess the French devise a way to stand there without the pee splashing all over their legs, but I wasn't experienced enough to do so. I was astonished. Right in the center of Monmartre, and I had to stand up to pee. Oh well.