Originally Published 31 March 2008, Update 19 Dec 2010

Yes, I know that it is completely insane. The kids got me started summer of 2007 in China when they started seeing star ratings on toilet facilities. You see, I grew up in the Upper Mid-West, US. Minnesotans are fairly laconical, not responding without thinking and of few words. Lake Wobegon is real; it is just all small towns, not one in particular. And things just …. are. And that is the way they are. As a result, I grew up with the understanding that toilet tanks came with this little lever on the side for flushing and that was the way you flushed a toilet.

Imagine my shock on traveling to Europe in 1972 – everywhere I went toilets were different. Many times not an improvement at all to my way of thinking. I had been in Israel for the summer of 1970, I don’t remember anything all that astonishing. But Europe – handles and chains to pull, buttons to push down, holes in floors. It was quite an eye opener for this quiet mid-western gal.

I moved to Germany for the first time in 1981, then again in 1988. We came back over seas in 1993 and have been living outside the US since.

Do you see where this is going? A refrain started running through my head – “There must be 50 ways to flush your toilet.” Starting with “Pull on the chain, Jane” and going from there.

It is that old Paul Simon song – “50 Ways to leave your lover” (the 1975’s Still Crazy After All These Years Album). Some of us were fully grown adults through university and professional school in 1975. Might even have the vinyl album. For that matter, I am well old enough to remember the original Simon and Garfunkel duo.

A snippet of the song goes –

But I’ll repeat myself
At the risk of being crude
There must be fifty ways
To leave your lover
Fifty ways to leave your lover

You just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don’t need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don’t need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free

Can’t you just hear it morphing in your head?

“At the risk of being crude
There must be 50 ways
to flush your toilet
fifty ways to flush a toilet.

You just pull on the chain, Jane
Step on the tread, Fred

(contributions for the rest of the lines always appreciated and will be credited if you want)

In 2008 on a fall cruise I started collecting pictures and will add to the collection. Rather than categorize by type (free standing tanks, hanging from the ceiling, holes in the floor, embedded in walls, electric) I am just going to label them by where and month I found them. I mentioned much of this in a post last Dec.

The Brits seem to be much like the Americans. Levers on the side of tanks. Unless I am on the road, once all the initial pix are up, it might grow a bit slowly.

Now, am I going to find 50? Do you have one that is unique?

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