As hard as it may be to believe, toilets have become a high-profile lifestyle item in American society.
Remember when your basic toilet came in white or beige – perhaps pumpkin or avocado during the early ’70s – and had a no-nonsense name like “Standard”?
Today, choosing the right toilet for your domicile is as important as what color your paint your house or what kind of carpeting you’ve got in the living room.
“Standard” is no longer the standard.
A colleague recently brought this to my attention after the flushable bathroom disposal unit in her 30-year-old home unceremoniously gave up the ghost (not a pretty picture, amigos).
Being a no-frills, Welsh-Italian homemaker who grew up in the wilds of El Dorado County, the rustic consumer thought that purchasing a new commode would be as easy as finding a generic porcelain replacement and then getting on with her life.
As we used to say on the mean streets of San Jose, “Sweet dreams, chump…”.
Bustling down to a local home improvement center, she was confronted by a wonderful world of toilets, each bearing a name guaranteed to make a statement about her bathroom and her lifestyle.
Among them were “The Designer” and “Repertoire” as well as “Reminiscence” and “Ravena.” Across town one could find “The Apollo” and “The Patriot.”
This once-mundane plumbing fixture has somehow been elevated to the level of status symbol. And, in at least one case, a patriotic status symbol.
Sorry. I don’t get it.
Do guests really pause in your bathroom and whisper enviously “Ooooh, look – they’ve got a Ravena!”
(And do the good people of that historic New York community realize somebody has thoughtfully named a toilet after their fair city?)
Then there’s that “Repertoire.” Sure, it’s a cool-sounding name, but how many people do you know who proudly assert that they’ve got a toilet in their repertoire?
Or is it the toilet that’s got the repertoire?
Curiouser and curiouser…
As for “Reminiscence,” you’ve really got to wonder just how many folks actually spend a lot of time reminiscing about toilets.
I’m sure we can all dredge up some pleasant or at least amusing memories about our bathrooms over the years, but fond reminiscence about our favorite toilets would seem to be pushing the concept just a bit.
Eventually, I suppose, the status symbol toilet will go the way of the American automobile, adding a few letters or numbers to the name to indicate an upgraded, more desirable model.
Soon the canny toilet shopper will be able to choose between the “Patriot GT” and the “Ravena SST” or, perhaps, the “Apollo 450 SEL.”
Opt for a turbocharger and you’ll have bragging rights to the fastest toilet on your block.
The possibilities, unfortunately, are endless…
Originally published September 15, 2002