Sunday, 1 December 2013

Passing Through the Loo at Kalamazoo!

Christmas came early this year! We received this rampantly delightful missive from Tudor Friend, regaling us with tales of the loos at Kalamazoo!
The Western Michigan University hosts a medieval congress every year, and since a lot of our friends tend to veer towards the medieval in more ways than one, they can frequently be found stalking this event. Tudor Friend has been reflecting on the quality of the toilets at Kalamazoo for quite some years, and finally put her thoughts into words. There are quite a few words, actually, and although they're written in Tudor Friend's characteristic elegant hand, with charming green ink, not many of them are complimentary. They make for spiffingly entertaining reading, however!

Dear [Privy Counsellor], 
I have been meaning to send you these pictures forever. Here I present, for your amusement, The Most Dire and Tragic Loo on earth. (Editor's note: We're all for melodrama at the Counsel!) Behold, the dorms at Kalamazoo! Each bathroom is between two bedrooms (and remember that everyone has roommates in the U.S., so four people have to share the Crap Loo). Photo 1 is taken from the doorway of one of the bedrooms, looking towards t'other. (The rooms share the Alcatraz-brick-decor style.) The shower (3) is all the way down by the other door, behind the sinks. It's rough in texture, presumably so no part of you could ever slip; of course, this creates infinite attachment places for mould, mildew, and soap scum. I presume the oatmeal-gone-bad colour was chosen to hide this phenomenon. I'm not sure but think it's possible that the Biology Department finds this useful. The sinks, as you see (2) are utilitarian. Yah, okay, it's America so you do get to enjoy mixer taps. I figure this advantage is cancelled out by the fact that the shower head, although clearly designed to move, does not, and is pointed at such an awkward angle that, to actually get water to your head for such useful things as, say, washing your hair or rinsing it out, you have to hug the pebbly, mouldy walls (thereby negating any true feeling of showerly achievement). And it just gets better...

Tudor Friend's charming handwriting.
We hasten to add that the apparent lopsidedness
is due to the cantankerousness of our scanner.

Meet the Kalamazoo toilet. 
And note that, despite being shared by four total strangers for the prison term duration of a school year (September-June), THERE IS NO FUCKING DOOR ON THE STALL. We'll overlook the fact that you actually can't get the old roll off the holder without rupturing discs (hence the balancing act). And the fact that this toilet has no bin whatsoever, for anything. Not to mention that it can suck down about one square of bog roll and maybe, if you're lucky, some pee, without blocking up. All of that is nothing compared to the fact that THERE IS NO FUCKING DOOR. Every year, 2,000 + medievalists, many of them great and Terrible Eminences in their fields, spend a week in these dorms. Rumour hath it that steamy annual affairs are conducted (and if you saw, much less slept in one, or heard the cacophony it makes if you sneeze, you would wonder how romance, much less sex, much less good sex, could ever happen in a K'zoo bed!). All of this is a bit hard to fathom, and I say this after attending for something like six years. But the thought that undergrads have to live in this hole all year, breathing its stench (and contributing to it - the rooms reek of Unwashed Teen Boy Laundry), and having to crap practically in public... Let's just say that it makes me very grateful that I could afford to avoid the state-school experience.
One is rather reminded of the AbFab episode "Iso Tank":
"Takes you back. Testosterone mixed with cheap perfume."
Image from Stylebistro.
My theory is that, as medievalists, we put up with it because our work makes us aware of how bad 14th century toilets were: we can go to Kalamazoo and either be very grateful we weren't around then, or we can suffer the K'zoo loo and feel a kinship with them (minus the fun of the Black Death bits). Phew. I feel better now. It's been a slightly rough week, and I really needed to do something a bit inane, not to mention cleaning my C drive a bit. Sometimes when life sucks, you just need to share a shitty loo with someone who cares. (I need to put that on a sampler!)

The infamous Kalamazoo toilet

Let's finish with a rampantly festive video! We don't know about you, but we feel like we could certainly do with some more AbFab action in our life - in fact, we have a very amusing AbFab-esque orgy planned with Tudor Friend for the future!

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