Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Disclaimer: Those of you who do not enjoy toilet talk may want to skip this one.
A few situations I've been in of late have gotten me thinking about a little-known French phenomenon - the silent peeing.

Silent peeing? But whatever could you mean, dear Ksam?

Let me explain. When I first moved to France, I noticed that most people had the bathtub/shower+sink in one room, and then the toilet in a separate closet. That in itself is fine - but the problem lies in the fact that the toilet room usually has very little insulation, meaning that you can hear anything and everything happening in there. I mean, everyone knows why you're going in there, but do they really need to hear it? Enter: the skill of silent peeing.

I've been doing an informal survey these past few days, and most people, while not having ever noticed this before, do agree with me once they think about it a bit. Think about the Frenchies in your life? Do you ever hear them pee? I remember asking Fab about it once, and he said that while he'd never thought about it, it was indeed something he unconsciously did.

Now we get to the "How do they do it?" part. There's got to be some trick to make up for the fact that their toilet bowls have funny shapes and almost no water. I've been picturing all kinds of contortionism or and crazy positions, but Leah suggested a much more practical solution - she says she's heard they line the bowl with toilet paper so as not to make any noise. Aha! Could this be the secret?

And now I'm wondering - is this something you yourself have noticed? And is it specific to France, or do other countries do it as well?



Blogger Katia said...

i remember way back when I was at uni, i read something that someone wrote on the back of a toilet door : "if you don't want anyone else to hear you pee, just put toilet paper on the water in the bottom of the bowl".
i thought it was the most genius thing ever and wondered why i'd never thought of it AND i have to confess that i practice silent peeing thanks to this. you don't need to be wasteful with the toilet paper and you don't need to clog it up - just a few squares and you're good to go.
i don't think it's a cultural or country-specific thing. i think it's just an issue with privacy and discretion ;) and i really don't like everyone else hearing me pee! LOL!

April 20, 2010 at 3:27 PM  
Blogger Eileen said...

I actually think the fact that there's less water would help them out. I mean, the American guys in my life pee really freakin loud and I think it must be a combination of the extra distance (as opposed to a girl) and the splashing. Not to get too graphic....

April 20, 2010 at 3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to be culturally insensitive but is throwing gobs of toilet paper down just to mask the sound of urination really something to champion? It's already a horribly overused commodity-- I would rather see the production of little music boxes rattling away on toilet backs instead.

Of course as a person who can choose to stand and bounce off the sides, maybe I'm speaking out of turn.

April 20, 2010 at 4:27 PM  
Blogger L Vanel said...

Ha! You too. Men can pee on the side of the bowl. I asked the very same question.

April 20, 2010 at 5:04 PM  
Blogger MilkJam said...

MG is a loud pee-er and prides himself on it. You can hear him from downstairs and his family always comments that they know who is peeing!

But he said he has tried the TP technique when need be... I have never heard of it until today!!! when i asked why he never told me, "well you never asked" !! LOL

April 20, 2010 at 8:23 PM  
Blogger Alisa said...

Wow, I am going to have to try that toilet paper trick... especially with a visit to the boy's parents coming up, this could come in very handy!!

(And otherwise, I never did really notice hearing or not hearing any bathroom noises in France, which I guess means to say that I did not in fact hear them. iiiiiinteresting...)

April 21, 2010 at 2:04 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Aim to the side of the bowl and it is nearly silent.

Not that I do this. I am past caring if people can hear me pee.

April 21, 2010 at 11:14 AM  
Blogger Leah said...

First of all, "thank you" for tagging me in your pee post! Ha.
Second, pee angling, I think that must be the ecological version of TP bowling! To each his or her own!

April 21, 2010 at 12:05 PM  
Blogger misplaced texan said...

I definitely do the toilet paper sound-barrier thing before peeing! My germaphobic self figured out that my pee was silent after tossing the TP in the bowl that I used to wipe the seat down with before sitting (I still do this at work and at strangers' houses, otherwise I'm a squatter).
Funny stuff!

April 23, 2010 at 3:43 PM  
Blogger Cécy said...

I never put toilet paper in a bowl for that. I think it's more of an angle and toilet bowl shape thing. If the steam hits the side of the bowl instead of the water it's a lot more silent.
I miss the French separated toilets. I also miss the dual flush system, it's hard to find here in the US. Probably why there is a lot more sound here too, people don't seem to care as much about water consumption in the US as in France.

May 4, 2010 at 3:48 PM  

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