Saturday, 19 February 2011
Man has had a long, up-and-down relationship with the privy. Our ancestors made the best that they could out of some bushes and a thick leaf or two; it's hard enough to enjoy dropping a deuce when you don't have two-ply, but imagine doing so while wondering if a hyena is around the corner. Thankfully, we don't have to worry about that anymore. That's because we live in the golden age of the latrine. In the distant future, scholars will point back to this epoch as the time when the bathroom became more than just a bathroom; when a few brave men began the migration from the living room to the W.C.; when the study took a back seat to the dunny. When man claimed the throne.
The seeds of revolution can be traced to the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in the year 1440. Gutenberg changed the world, allowing for the democratization of knowledge and spreading of religious gospel on a scale never before possible. But, more importantly, he laid the foundation for the first quantum-leap in bathroom physics - the modern newspaper.
Within a few hundred years, the hand-operated Gutenberg press was replaced by the steam-powered rotary press, allowing printing on the industrial scale (part of the "industrial revolution" - you may have heard of it). As factories began churning out newspapers by the thousands, man now had a daily publication to occupy his time on the head - only there was no time. Not enough, at least, until the mid 1900's, when workers began demanding shorter hours, paid vacations, and weekends off. Finally, Mr. Jones could come home, give the wife a kiss on the cheek, kick off the loafers and have a glass of bourbon.
That's not all he could do. In between kissing Betty and petting his kids, Don Draper could now take leisure shits - fun ones. Informative ones. The iconic image of the businessman dropping trow and catching up on foreign affairs was born.
Now we have entered the modern age of the john, where things begin to speed up. In a few short decades time, there is an explosion of levy-friendly technology. The laptop began seeing regular duty in the 1990's, and when combined with the internet, the shitting world was again changed forever. In terms of scope, global impact, and shifts in the balance of power, the leap from newspaper to laptop has been likened to the advent of the gatling gun. Pundits began calling the internet-connected laptop the "pinnacle of bathroom technology". Little did they know, La Revolución was far from over.
Smart phones packed the power of a laptop into your pocket, enabling early labor revolutionaries to evade sideways glances from carrying their computer into the stall at work. Angry Birds made it okay to scream "HELL YEAH!" in the restroom. One could drop a Nixon while listening to a historical podcast about Watergate. Newspaper sales declined at record levels; titans of industry were brought to their knees; estimates for lost productivity at work skyrocketed into the billions, making the NCAA tournament look like childs play. The nation's economy came to a screeching halt, ushering in the Great Recession, one dump at a time.
For the fat cats on Wall Street, the modern age of the crapper is a financial nightmare. But for the regular folks on Main Street, it's a win for the people. So go ahead, grab your fully-charged iPad and mount your throne. Hell, if you're at home, bring a beer with you and fashion a cupholder out of the potpourri. Throw on some Credence and spend the next ten minutes Wikipedia-ing serial killers. Facebook your old girlfriend and see how tall her new man is. Start your fantasy football research early this year. Whatever it is you do, do it until you can't feel your right leg anymore - and always remember those who came before you and blazed the trail.
Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to go see a man about a horse.
Now tell us, how have you reclaimed your toilet-seat throne?