Episode Four...this isn't going to be pretty
Why do some Germans toilets present you with a shelf at the back and a hole at the front? When I first encountered one of these "Flachspüler" (horizontally flushing) toilets, I was confronted with a series of emotions.
Firstly, confusion: was one meant to straddle these things backwards? The answer was clearly no.
Which then led to other emotions: disbelief, shock, disgust (is that an emotion?), fear, then a kind of peaceful acceptance and now, on occasions, a morbid interest.
The disadvantages seem to me, a non-German and prudish Kiwi, rather obvious. I won't go into detail (this is a family blog), but suffice to say that certain unpleasant issues can arise including odour, trying not to look down as you grope for the flush, then a phenomenon I will call "heavy streaking" and, the worst of all, on occasion, finger grazing. (Okay, you can open your eyes. The worst part of this blogpost is now over.)
The advantages of the Flachspüler? These appear to be far more elusive. I have now quizzed quite a few Germans at parties as to why some people opt for this kind of toileting experience in their homes and work places and have never had a convincing response. But one thing is clear: just as the German language does bother with euphemisms (Brustwarze is the word for nipple and literally means "breast wart" - I rest my case) so too do the Germans themselves seem to be completely un-squeamish when it comes to bodily functions...Steffen's got some fun drawing ahead!