Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Brief Disquisition on the Existence of Butt-cooties


What with one thing and another, I've spent a lot of time in public restrooms. And, having been a scientist in my previous professional incarnation, I can't help observing things, and drawing statistical inferences. Which is why I am in a position to inform you that roughly half the female population of the US suffer from the twin delusions that 1) butt-cooties exist, and 2) they will, given half a chance, leap several inches from a toilet seat and burrow into the skin of an unsuspecting buttock, resulting in scrofula, assorted STD's, herpes, and probably leprosy.

I draw these conclusions from the fact that roughly half the time I enter a public restroom cubicle, I observe that the previous user has peed on the seat. Ladies…

I can only guess that at some point in an impressionable youth, these women were told by some female authority figure that One Must Never SIT On A Public Toilet, "because you might catch something." Firmly indoctrinated with this policy, they do not sit on public toilets. They hover. Ladies, ladies…

Look. The skin of the buttocks is actually pretty germ-free, owing to the fact that we normally keep them covered and don't (usually) touch other people, animals, etc. with them. Your butt is much cleaner—microbially-speaking—than are your hands.

Various studies of the bacterial content of public restrooms indicate that there are a LOT more germs on the door of said restroom than there are on any toilet seat therein. You acquire millions more microbes by shaking hands with someone than you would if our social system involved mutual butt-rubbing. (To say nothing of the teeming worlds of microorganisms you acquire every time you accept change from the counter-guy at Burger King. How many of you race to the bathroom and scrub your hands after ordering the meal, but before eating it?)

In order actually to catch one of the communicable diseases with which excrement or other bodily fluids are associated, two things would have to occur: 1) the bodily fluid of an infected person would have to be applied to the toilet seat (which would not happen, if said person would sit her bottom on the potty where it belongs and not spray the thing like a hippopotamus), and 2) an uninfected person's mucous membranes must come in contact with said fluids, within the few seconds that most bacteria and virii can survive outside the human body. You don’t have mucous membranes on your buttocks.

Now, by and large, urine really doesn't contain all that many bacteria (Male urine contains almost none, owing to the fact that its exit is, um, less impeded by surrounding tissue. A good many alchemical and medical recipes up through the early 19th century require "urine of a newborn male child" as an ingredient—this being the most sterile water available). Feces…well, yes. And I have in fact encountered the Really Nasty evidence that there are not only seat-pee-ers, but also seat-poopers (to say nothing of the occasional person who is so afraid of physically encountering a public toilet that they actually don't hit it at all, and leave the evidence of their mental derangement on the floor of the facility), but this is fortunately rare.

All right. In periods of heavy traffic, one might possibly encounter a live bacterium or virus present in the urine that some inconsiderate idiot has left on a toilet seat. Not likely, but faintly possible. Are you going to encounter it with your mucous membranes? Not unless your excretory habits are both Highly Athletic and Dang Unusual.

OK. So if the risk of catching a bacterial or viral disease by sitting on a dry toilet seat is negligible, then plainly, the Thing to Fear must be…Butt-cooties!

Traveling as much as I do, I am in a position to collect international data, albeit in an anecdotal and unstandardized manner. On the basis of such casual observation, though, I hypothesize that while butt-cooties presently have a fairly wide global distribution, they probably originated in the United States. Speaking generally, at least fifty percent of all public toilets in US airports, convenience stores, museums, and restaurants indicate evidence of infestation (judging from the aversive techniques employed by the patrons). European toilets have a much lower incidence—perhaps 10-15%.

(Point of etiquette: ought one to meet the eyes of, and/or nod to, a person emerging from a toilet cubicle that one proposes to enter? Common politeness would argue for such cordial acknowledgement—but if the next few seconds reveal that the departing patron was possessed of butt-cooties, this might lead one to think harsh and unchristian thoughts of said person, and surely it's worse to think unchristian thoughts (WWJD? I'm pretty sure He wouldn't pee on a public toilet seat, and if He did, He would certainly wipe it off. Ditto the Buddha, and doubtless any other religious figure you care to name) about someone whose face is imprinted in your short-term memory, than of an unknown quantity.)

In fact, we might hypothesize the geographical origin of butt-cooties as having occurred in or near Chicago. On what basis? Well, of all the airports I've been in (and I've been in a lot of airports, from New Zealand to Saskatchewan), only O'Hare International has public toilets equipped with a sliding cylinder of plastic sheeting that encases the seats; you wave your hand in front of a magic button, and voila! The plastic slides round the seat, and you are presented with a pristine surface on which to park your booty. Such is the prevailing fear of butt-cooties, though, that people pee on these toilet seats, too.

Well, there's no arguing with psychological aberration, and thus I make no attempt to persuade Those Who See Butt-Cooties away from their convictions. I would, though, urge them—in the most kindly manner—to address the results of their antisocial psychosis, and thus leave them with this classic advice:

"If you sprinkle when you tinkle—

Please be neat, and wipe the seat."


  1. By the way, Off Topic, but on-topic with your recent comments on Homonyms That Drive Me Crazy (on your website), may I also add that "piqué" is a French/Ballet term which I'm told means "to prick" where the pointed toe is touched briefly onto the floor and then lifted up again; it's also a type of fabric, I think (but I'm not too sure about the spelling there).

  2. Dear Jenereight--

    Yes, pique' (pih-KAY) is a type of fabric. And piquet (also pik-KAY [g]) is a card game.

  3. and PK is a type of chewing gum ;-)Jen (in Oz)

  4. About 30 some years ago, having been stationed in south korea, you would get the local gals coming in and using the facilities. unfortunately they were used to a hole in the ground. so instead of sitting they actually climbed upon the seat and left foot prints. and still did not sprinkle the seat.

  5. AT LAST! I have been anxiously awaiting this. Not just since you announced it, but for the many years that I have worked in a building with public-access toilets. I've been wanting to post such a notice on the walls for as long as I can remember. Maybe I will! Ah yes, you may be a famous author right now for your massive books, but it's the Butt Cootie essay that will cement your name in history.

  6. I would so love to have this in a "Cliff Notes" bullet point version so I can make a million copies and slap them on all ladies restroom stall doors! I have been guilty of hovering, but usually only because someone else has christened the toilet seat with their own holy water. And in my 35 years of life I should know to make sure the seat is sprinle-free before I sit on it, but on the rare occasion I manage to sit in somebody else's urine... Very disturbing!

  7. OMG!!!! ROFL!!!

    Before I had lasik surgery (which, by the way, I regret at least twice a week) I wore progressive lenses. Since that, I no longer have the 'reading lens' to assist me and often, with the very bad lighting in the stall (which I believe is some sick man's way of trying to hide the 'jarring to the senses' decorating so common) along with the fact that the doors open IN (another male design which, in very small stalls, impedes my ability to get IN the stall and when I'm in a hurry, getting in and the door closed is my top priority) I half the time, never saw the 'evidence' of the previous pee-er. Now, I can be dying, I'm in such a hurry, but I will still take the 15-30 seconds it takes to wipe the seat first. Because I'm not sure whether it's the butt-cooties or the squishy sensation one gets when sitting on someone's antisocial psychosis, as you so aptly put it, but I cringe now whenever I have to use the public restroom...which could be what adds to the fact that I'm in such a hurry when I finally decide to take a chance...

  8. At the risk of exposing Too Much Information... WHY doesn't everyone (tinklers and butt-cootie-fearers alike) simply cover the seat with toilet paper BEFORE they sit? Um, that's what I do...

  9. Diana,

    Either they're hoverers, or they're my three year old daughter; despite her toddler footstool, she insists on sliiiiding on of that toilet seat, with the concurrent mess. (g)

    Oh, and homonyms ... just had my first looksee at the anthology in which my short story was published - seems my chaise lounge is now a "chase" lounge. Gotta laugh (and I guess comparativley few will know the difference!)

  10. Rachel,
    I think that's a bit odd because I don't pronounce "chaise" (shayz) and "chase" (chays - rhymes with "race") the same. Doesn't that mean they're not homonyms?
    The homonym mix up that really bugs me is sight/site/cite - particularly when it appears in an email or web-post... often from those people who would, instead of saying "ta-da!" to make an announcement, say "walla!" [G]
    Jen in Oz

  11. You made me laugh and I agree with you 100%. There is nothing worse than see the mess that some people leave on a toilet seat.....GROSS!

  12. AMEN! Simple solution...sit your booty on the seat and do your business! As a scientist in my previous life as well (before dd's arrived) I often have this conversation with friends and acquaintances. I realized I had succeeded in reaching SOMEONE when my 8 yo dd informed a friend in the lav at school that you get more germs from shaking hands than sitting your booty on the toilet seat. She also reprimanded the friends for using a "ridiculous amount" of t.p. to line the seat and wipe. She told her to be more "environmentally conscious". Tee hee! Our rule of the house...two squares for pee and three for poo...

    Thanks for the laughter and support!

  13. Dear Diana:

    I have been having DG withdrawals and most apprehensive I would miss a new posting as I am departing (in the early a.m.) for vacation (to Yosemite and NO! we are not bringing technology other than iPods). Thank goodness you posted, and what a delight -- it's the long awaited, "ABDEB-C."

    Diana, I believe I was traumatized in early childhood by my well-meaning mother who told me never to sit on a public toilet seat for fear of contracting some disease. So terrified was I that I ended up not being able to use a public convenience until I was in my late 30's. I could hold "water" like a camel. I did relax my guard during my trips to Europe because of the matrons installed in the facilities there. Now, sadly, my fear of butt-cooties has taken a back seat (so to speak) to the rising concern of being caught on some sicko's spying device cleverly planted in a public toilet. And, if caught with my pants down, I wouldn't be viewed on Girls Gone Wild, it would be some freaky fetish site.


  14. I, too, had the Asian Toilet Experience, lo so many years ago. I would be washing my hands at the sink and see the top of my Chinese teacher's head rise A B O V E the stall door, and the sink D O W N again.

    It also threw a wrench into the American/Western custom of looking under the stall door for feet to determine if said stall is occupied. Ooops! Pardon me Respected Chinese Teacher!

    The mazing thing about these Chinese toilets was that if one was game enough to actually sit (a challenge because the seat proper had been removed . . . too dangerous when one is standing on such a movable seat, one could not, in fact, shut the stall door as there was not enough room for one's femur.

    Aren't toilet stories the best?!

  15. Amazing that we think we are at the top of the evolutionary chain.  That is until you walk into a public bathroom.  Then you see how nasty-nasty-nasty human beings can be. 

    The concept of self flushing toilet's is a good one if they work, but unfortunately they don't half the time.  I absolutely hate to walk in and see what someone else ate or drank the following day.  There is a back-up button to push if it dosn't flush immediately.  PUSH IT!

    Off topic:  I'm not going to read anymore excerpts on Echo of the Bone until the book comes out.  I was always one who couldn't wait to turn to the next page and when there is no more page to turn in the excerpt, it feels like the rug has been pulled out from under me.  So!(until the next excerpt comes out) I'm not going to read anymore of them.

    I was doing a pretty good job of getting my mind off Jamie and Claire by reading tons of other books. POW! one excerpt and I'm back to comparing them to characters in other books. Not fair!

  16. Well done and highly entertaining! :)

    As I've worked in a (fairly popular) retail establishment... Well, I normally trekked to one of the less popular restrooms. (If I could manage, the one in the stockroom.) I'll trade a few paper towels on the floor or a raised seat (again, the stockroom) for a clean seat.

    Glad to see something from you! :)

  17. As far as I'm concerned, the only reason for anybody NOT to plant their butt firmly on the seat is in the (extremely unlikely) event that there's a rattlesnake in the toilet bowl -- a la Claire's experience in DRUMS [g]. And as for people who leave messes for the next person: That's just disgusting. I mean, really, what's so hard about wiping up after yourself?


    P.S. To sharaf - welcome to the club! [g] I used to devour every excerpt I could get my hands on. I swore off ECHO excerpts in mid-December and have managed (more or less) to avoid them since. But it's not easy.

  18. OMG...That was not only funny, but informative!

    I agree that women who hover should have the decency to, at the very LEAST, wipe up their own mess.

    How can we as a gender complain about MEN who have aiming issues, when we have our own?

    Oh, and on a different subject, is anyone going to Tulsa for Conestoga in July(besides you, Diana!)?

    :) Terri

  19. Thanks for a giggle this morning, Diana. As ever, you provide a witty, intelligent commonsensical approach to just about any subject.

    You have also made me feel just a tad better about germs; I have always been a practical person who is not afraid to "just sit" on a public toilet seat, and now a scientist has confirmed that I was right all along!

    My greatest danger of icky bathroom experiences is at home, however, where I have a 5-year-old son with poor aim who does not put the seat up before he does his business. Ick.

  20. Having been raised by a woman whose bottom never ever touched a public toilet seat, my sister and I have always made a point of sitting. Recently I was out to lunch with an acquaintance, who infromed me in all seriousness that she always flushed with her foot (clad in a sturdy shoe). I was speachless with amazement but then when I thought about it, that makes somewhat more sense than hovering (which she also advocates). I'm sure if she could, she'd turn the latch with her foot, too. Just amazing.

    When I was in college (in Chicago) I noticed that the seats in the psychology department always showed evidence of hovering, while those in the art department never did. I chose a career in art. Marjorie

  21. Well, it's official. My office mates think I'm nuts, for the insane giggling I'm doing over here. :-D

  22. Thank goodness the ladies I work with don't have these issues! Heck, we pee in horse trailers, barns, stalls...


  23. http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/personal/05/06/o.tinkler/index.html

    Sorry, I was trying to include this link to a similar topic!

  24. THANK YOU!!!! I thought I was the only person gets upset about this. And, those people that leave the seat cover behind. EYUH!

  25. Burlington, Vermont has the sliding plastic on the toilets in their restrooms, too. I'm more concerned with door and faucet handles, so I use the papertowel that I dry my hands with (or shirt) to open shut off water and open doors.

    You are the correct in the Ballet term pique', pronounced "pih-kay."

  26. Burlington, Vermont has the slidng plastic toilets seats, also. I use a papertowel or hem of shirt to open the door. I'm more paranoid about those than the toilet seat.

    You have the "pique'" ballet term correct...pronounced "pih-kay."

  27. Hee hee. This reminds me of a conversation I had with my friend's three-year-old granddaughter, Ava. We were at a restaurant and I took her to the bathroom. It went like this:

    "Well, sit down and get to business, Ava,"

    [horrified look from Ava] "I can't do that! You have to hold me up. Grammie says..."

    "I don't care what Grammie says. Sit your butt down. I am not holding you above the toilet while you go pee."

    Of course the little rat told on me as soon as we got back to the table.

    "Grammie, Aunt Nikki made me sit on the potty! I told her you'd be mad."

  28. Thanks once again for a delightful read. I always find it very disgusting to have to clean up after someone else when I use the rest room. I hope this makes the hoverers out there think twice before leaving a mess on the seat.

  29. On a related note, my daughter's microbiology lab TA warned them about the dangers created when flushing...many germs are thrown into the air in aerosol form. Her advice? Don't hang around to make sure everything goes away, just flush and run!

    Of course now I can never use a public restroom without thinking "flush and run, flush and run", lol.

  30. Ah, DG. A am assuming you wrote this after just emerging from a public toilet with a wet seat! I for one on more than one occassion have wanted to chase down that woman right before me! This pisses me off (pun intended) more than just about anything dealing with public toilets.

  31. Fabulous essay. Should be required reading for every person who will ever use a public restroom. Btw, the Oklahoma City airport (Will Rogers International) also has the sliding plastic covers. Love them!

  32. This was wonderful!!
    Harvey's Resort in Tahoe has the plastic sleeves.
    My eight year old dd still is terrified of the automatic toilets and I have to squeeze in the stall with her and cover the sensor with my hand.
    But the worst was at this school I worked at had toilets that would "spit" at you when you flushed and you would get dirty toilet water sprayed on you if you didn't get out of the way fast enough. This was only possible in the handicapped stall.

  33. It was the "hippopotamus" part that got me guffawing out loud...


  34. Now I will think of you and your butt-cooties blog every time I enter the loo. I think someone should invent a seat squeegee that wipes the seat after each use.

  35. For the record I never hover I always line the toilet seat with t.p. I've always been a bit frightened when using public restrooms; not of but-cooties but of disease. I am type I diabetic and I used to take my injections in my rear-end (it is the most fleshy/fatty part of my body) sometimes the tiny puncture caused by the needle would bleed- not much. Since the realization that strangers used public restrooms I was always paranoid that one of my little wounds would touch the seat exactly where someone with HIV touched the seat and maybe they had open sores or butt pimples that would infect me. A little far fetched... but I say better safe than sorry. teehehehe.

  36. As a "sitter", I seem to be in the minority. I have no patience for lining the seat with toilet paper, I hate the burn in my thighs as I hover, and after a quick investigation to ensure that there is no evidence of previous inconsiderate hoverers, I am quite happy to sit myself down and tinkle. That is what the seat is for, ladies. Thanks for confirming what I've long known to be true, Diana! I share your frustration.

  37. Amazing what subjects will be broached in this blog. I love it! My husband just rolled his eyes when I told him what we're all talking about on your site this week.

    And for the record, I agree. If you can't pee straight, go outside!

  38. Diana,
    I also sit. My Mom taught me to hover in public restrooms. Well, bah humbug to that! I just make sure the seat is dry before I sit. I know some toilets do spew water up out of them when you flush. And yes, I do find it disgusting for an adult woman to flush a toiled with her foot (in shoe, of course). How childish!!! That is one of the reasons you should WASH your hands after you are finished!
    Thanks for the entertaining story!


  39. In response to Gail's daughter's micro. TA, yes, s/he is correct. That is why I have my tooth brush far away from the toilet. One idea is to close the lid when you flush, but I heard the spray effect last awhile so keep lid shut for a time before lifting.

    How many of you are thinking about how to rearrange your powderooms?

  40. Do you know this toilet seats that circle around themselves to get cleaned when you have flushed?
    Was that understanabel? I don't know exactly how to explain it in another way.
    The children love these toilets and always want to flush. :)

  41. Amen, sister!!!! Finally, someone scientifically backs up what I've been saying for years! :-) For heaven's sake, people, please park your posteriors on the toilet seats and stop spraying them like a cat marking its territory!

  42. thank you thank you thank you for posting this! I think the last two lines should be posted on the back of every stall door in a public restroom!

    I also don't understand why there are no lids on public toilets considering whatever in the toilet gets sprayed into a fine mist in an upward direction when you flush...

  43. lmao. You are so right. We should be more concerned about dirty fingernails than Bum Germs.

    In all seriousness I did see a picture of a girl in her 20s who had been the casualty of a broken toilet as she stood on it - in heels no less. She deeply lacerated her thigh and bottom.It actually looked like a shark bite. The ceramic toilet had broken as she had stood on the rim. Not pretty.

    On a FAR lighter note. A Toilet paper issue - Husband has 3 females to contend with and moaned about the constant need for t/paper in our house.
    Reply, courtesy of our 11 year old - "well, we have more to mop up Dad".
    It made me laugh anyway.

  44. I agree. I have never used one of those toilet covers and never will. Now, I need to go cook supper...

  45. Dear Susan--

    Dear me! Perhaps that--standing on seats (good grief)--accounts for the mysterious state of some public toilet seats. Often, one will look as though someone took an ice-pick or a hammer to it, and I always wonder what the heck happened?

  46. Thank you so much for all the enrichment you give us with your imagination, humour and anecdotes.
    I did tell my husband that you must be working away on the next novel, because you hadn't blogged in a while. Now, we are on to bathroom habits! HEHE
    Well, Diana, if you wanted a survey of North American women's public restroom habits and phobias, you've got one, and with candor!
    My mom used to line the toilet seat with tissues. My young twin daughters and I just wipe errant pee drips(although I cringe a little), but my biggest peeve is not being able to cram all three of us into those itty bitty stalls. You see, my girls hate to be locked away by themselves in the stalls-fear of noisy toilet flushing, fear of the door sticking/or not locking properly. The list goes on. The point is, they aren't made for moms with children in tow. I am NOT acrobatic, but I am sure my girls think Mommy is a contortionist at times.
    The next hurdle is how to maintain clean hands after washing but having the main door to contend with.
    Finally, there is a British house cleaning show that takes care of homes that have been neglected. They claim most kitchen sinks are more bacteria-infested than the average toilet. It seems that toilets are cleaned more often than sinks. There is something to think about.

  47. Oh yeah... talking about stall sizes... they don't make regular stalls large enough for big pregnant ladies! I looked like I had a beach ball under my shirt with both of my pregnancies. Nothing like smashing the backs of your legs into the front of the toilet and having the door still rub your belly, while you are trying to bend backwards over the toilet, without falling in!


  48. I have spent quite a bit of time in Russia--Moscow and St. Petersburg, with most of my time in Moscow. I am always amazed that there are very often FOOTPRINTS ON the toilet seat. On them. I don't get it.

    I'm currently traveling in California and Washington/Oregon. I'm amazed at the toilet seat covers in EVERY bathroom...and yet, there are still incidents of "accidents" anyway.
    Go figure.

  49. Too funny and SO true. What's even more frustrating is that men have a very bad opinion of women being particularly dirty because of the disgusting state of female toilets. I share a bathroom with at least 8 women, and it is horrendous. And this is AT WORK!! For goodness sake, if you’re that worried buy a $2 bottle of sanitizer and go to town on the seat first! Sheesh ladies, think of your sisters!!!
    P.S I was totally convinced ‘WWJD’ stood for what would Jamie do, until the other religious figures were announced. Is it sacrilegious to call Jamie a god?

  50. Jess:

    What Would Jamie Do? That's simple. We've seen him "marking his territory" wherever it's convenient. [g] A bit unsanitary by modern standards, but I don't see him contributing to the problem. If the toilets were too much of a mess, he'd just pee outside. [g]


  51. AMEN! As a side note - I had this conversation with a few Scots a few years back. They rolled on the floor with laughter that American women "hover." They couldn't think of a more ridiculous thing to do!

  52. Now that was funny! And very educational too. Oh Diana, I have one quick question. When do we get to SEE Jamie? I'm longing to see pictures of him for the graphic novel. My apologies if this has already been answered. I check your website daily (sometimes twice daily) in hopes of finally seeing Himself. Thanks,

  53. The definition of "COOTIE" is louse. Which means that it is lice. Is a butt cootie any worse than head lice and can you get it off a toilet seat? Or would the hovers kill the lice by spraying the seat? Don't it make you itch just to think about it.

  54. You always give us variety, Diana! If I encounter a messy seat, I'll raise it and then use the hover technique. To the poster w/ small children, I use the larger handicapped stalls or I've taught the kids to do a military style sound off at some point when we're using multiple stalls to assure me they're still close by and safe.

  55. Speaking of disgusting - is there anything more disgusting than someone who uses a public restroom and DOESN'T WASH HER HANDS?!? I mean, really! I work in a college, and I have witnessed people with doctorates either bypass the sink altogether or just run their hand (yes, one hand) under the water. And this in front of witnesses - imagine what they do when they're in there alone! Yuck! And inevitably, it's the science teachers who are the worst offenders!!!

  56. Classic!! I encounter this problem all the time and have never understood WHY women cannot sit on the seat. Thanks for your brilliant commentary on this subject!

  57. Thanks for airing one of my pet peeves! In honor of which, I offer the following ditty, suitable for writing on stall walls:

    If you sprinkle when you tinkle,
    Please be neat; raise the seat!

  58. Another restroom ditty, sometimes seen here in the US mountain west when/where water is scarce:

    "If it's yellow, let it mellow
    If it's brown, flush it down."

    Sorry, had to share that ;-)

  59. I have long held the same opinions re: but cooties! Being a Microbiologist by trade,I have learned to not worry so much about butt-cooties and freak out more about raw meats.
    So, I am a rebel... I don't even use the seat covers. As long as the seat is dry and not filthy, I do without. Saves so much time. And I am still alive and am not infected with all kinds of diseases.

  60. I have long held the same opinions re: but cooties! Being a Microbiologist by trade,I have learned to not worry so much about butt-cooties and freak out more about raw meats.
    So, I am a rebel... I don't even use the seat covers. As long as the seat is dry and not filthy, I do without. Saves so much time. And I am still alive and am not infected with all kinds of diseases.

  61. Oh Diana you've done it again! 'Brief Di - Squish - ition'? Must have been an uncomfortable flight to inspire this one. I do hope you tote along spare panties in your carry on!

  62. Oh! Thank you so much for that. I haven't had a good giggle all day. By the way, doesn't LAX also have the sliding plastic covers on their seats? I was actually thinking about those a few weeks ago (weird day dreams, I know) and I couldn't recall where I had seen them. "...and not spray the thing like a hippopotamus..." tee-hee! I love it. I like discovering when things that annoy me also drive someone else nuts! Loved the latest excerpt on your page, by the way. Thanks for dishing out the tid-bits...

  63. I appreciate this well-researched Scientific Study. The Horror of Butt-cooties unearthed, unshaken and unsung. Thank you.

  64. Hahahaha, thanks for the grins. And the New Orleans airport has had the auto toilet seat covers for years and years. I remember going in there as a teen just to watch the magic. *G* Ok, I'm easily entertained. *g*

    So maybe that's where the Butt Cooties really got started huh?

    Anyway, just wanted to say that I grew up with the last name "Booty". I kid you not. At least I didn't marry a man named Slap or Spank!

    Hope I gave you a grin for today too. *G*

    Keep doing what ya do. Love it.

  65. There's this (unknown) woman in my building who evidently buys into that With Her Whole Heart (tm) not because she pees on the seat, but because she covers EVERYTHING in TOILET PAPER! And she is apparently so terrified by the thought of butt cooties, that she won't even touch HER OWN TOILET PAPER! She leaves it for us to pick up after her.

    hangs head.

    yeah, it's still covering the toilet seat if you go in after her. *sigh*

  66. Dear Diana,
    sorry but I had to show this to my DH and we both cracked up about the hippo comparision. His comment: so you girls are not any better. I always thought womans toiletts would be cleaner. An other illusion taken away. *g*
    My question here: is this ..just be neat and wipe the seat! an american saying? I loved it and wonder how long it takes until we can find that handcrafted in cross stich. Happy Greetings from Germany

  67. Dear Birgit--

    Yes, my husband was amazed to learn that women don't just sit on the toilet--couldn't figure out _why_ they would do that. [rolling eyes]

    If you translate "Please be neat and wipe the seat" into German, be sure to post it here; might be handy, when traveling abroad!

  68. Dear Diana!

    To translate that is a fun challenge!
    I would say:
    Wenn du pinkelst und du kleckerst, sei so nett und wisch's doch weg!

    have a sunny day!

  69. Dear Birgit--

    Rof,l!! Thanks--I'll have to see if I can work that one into the act that Barbara (Frau Schnell, my friend and German translator) and I do when we do the next book-tour in Germany!

  70. Dear Diana,
    that would be honor for me.
    Already looking forward to the book tour, keep writing *g*

  71. Thank you Diana. Excellent information and I wish you could post this to an even wider audience since this is such a huge problem in public restrooms. Even if you did, I suspect many will still be stuck on those messages from their childhood and wouldn't believe you anyway. I did like your little rhyme especially since it reminded me of a similar one my family used to use when I was a child.
    "If you sprinkle when you tinkle,
    Be a sweetie and wipe the seatie."

  72. Several years back I was 'Next' in the long bathroom line. The occupant of the stall brushed by me as she approached the sink. As I looked into the stall I had the opportunity of a lifetime. I turned to her and said, "If you are going to pee all over the seat, the least you could do is wipe it up." The perfectly coifed and expensively dressed woman chose to pretend I wasn't speaking to her. As I exited the stall, leaving a dry toilet seat, there were several woman waiting to congratulate me on doing something they had always wanted to do - but never had the opportunity. For the record, I wipe any misplaced pee before sitting on the seat and leave it clean & dry for the next occupant. I'm pretty certain my almost 60 year old quads wouldn't let me hover.

  73. Dear Cathy--

    Brava!! [wild applause]

  74. Thank you for the ditty. I have been trying to remember it for days. We have a "sprinkler" in our office who refuses to clean up after herself. I plan to make tasteful little signs to post in each stall. Maybe she will get the hint. ---Probably not!!


  75. I saw a new toilet ditty (new to me, at least)this weekend at the house we went to for a Memorial Day BBQ. This was on a plaque over the toilet:

    My aim is to keep the bathroom clean. Your aim is to help me!

  76. We had friends, growing up, who had a sign near their outside loo, near their swimming pool, which read something like, "we don't swim in your toilet... so please don't pee in our pool!"

  77. We aim to please.
    You aim too, please!

  78. Diana,
    You should send this to Newsweek, they run a column every month "In their own words...", I've seen it on almost every subject there is, except this one. It's perfect! :-)


  79. birgit,

    Here you go:


    *big grin*

    I also despise the public restroom toilets that flush so violently that it splashes water onto the seat and makes you think you sat in pee on accident.


  80. Whoops, sorry it cut off the end of the address. Here it is again:



  81. dear stephm,
    lol and thank you! So it is a saying in the states!! I love it!
    the only things you get taught this way here in Germany is mostly for the guys, saying to be nice and sit down. (well, at least in private restrooms) It was about time to say some open words here.
    "Not unless your excretory habits are both Highly Athletic and Dang Unusual." That sentense cracked me up! Diana rules if it comes to pointing things out.
    still grinning

  82. It's nice to know that someone feels the same way. This is definitely a gripe I have myself with women's public restrooms-- especially now that I have a two year old who has to sit on the seat and touch it and everything else in the stall while I stand by grimacing. All it takes is one hover and then the cycle repeats. gahh! We recently visited Zurich, Switzerland and they have the cleanest bathrooms I've ever seen, and some of the strangest ones too. Some of these contraptions terrified my daughter and left me completely speechless. Funny topic-- thanks for posting!

  83. Hey - great blog! I put toilet paper on the seat, too (even at home), in the face of family jeers. It might not do any good, but the rite assuages my soul. I saw a variation of the closing poem in a gym bathroom several years ago:

    If you sprinkle
    When you tinkle,
    Be a sweetie -
    Wipe the seatie!

  84. This comment has been removed by the author.

  85. Oh I applaud that entry. Amazing that people would actually think that they could get germs from the toilet seat, you would think that after the 80's and the hysteria AIDS caused, with people thinking you could catch it by using a toilet after someone infected, shaking hands with said infectee or smiling in their general direction, it just baffles me to know people are still as naive as ever. I do put it down to parents teaching their children to "be careful, you don't know who has been here before and you could get germs from 'someone dirty'"
    Hopefully your entry along with your actual factual knowledge has opene the eyes of at least a few germaphobes. For those parents out there who are telling their children about all the evil germs, just remember, the germs didn't kill you, nor will they your children ... exposure could actually save them by allowing them to grow a resistance to them.
    That's my two cents worth!

  86. tLOL - I am definitely a sitter myself; I don't even understand the toilet seat covers as they have run on news programs like 60 minutes about the germiest (is this a word?) places in a bathroom and the toilet seat is the cleanest. The floor is the worst. So if you do flush with your feet, you are inflicting all kinds of germs on the next person who flushes with her hand.

    I lived in Japan for 2 years, and they rarely have "American" toilets. The facilities are a porcelain trench, so to speak, which you very carefully squat over. It takes a great deal of getting used to, but then, they have no butt-cooties, either.

  87. I work at a University in Halifax, NS. I have never been in a public washroom which can compare to the one here at work. We have a mixed bag when it comes to women here, and maybe that explains the mess. There is always pee on the seat, sometimes poo, sometimes other drippings. I wonder how they who make the mess can walk away and not clean it up? I have often gone to other floors in our building, ones which I know more men work on, and use the ladies lav there. It is always cleaner, with less ladies using it. How can highly educated women working in a university and performing research not know how clean their butt actually is? I guess I will never know. I laugh and laugh every time I read this post...and my husband now knows what butt cooties are...he assures me the men's washroom looks much worse than the ladies, if that's any consolation! :)

  88. My dad always tells the story of when he took my nephew (his grandson) into a public restroom at DisneyWorld. He gave "Little John" a mini-lecture on not touching anything in the stall because it's dirty, etc. etc. As they exited the men's room, "Little John" was proud to report to Grandpa that he didn't touch ANYTHING at all in the stall, all the while dragging the palm of his hand along the wall . . . :)

  89. I really like this blog. It made me laugh because I can relate. My best friend has some sort of phobea related to public restrooms, and gags whenever she enters one, (which I could understand if she didn't also gag in restrooms that had just been cleaned to the point of being sanitized!) And my step-mom is a hoverer. I, on the other hand, share your views and just make sure to check the toilet before I sit on it. It's really no fun to sit on a wet toilet seat!
    Thanks for putting a smile on my face!

  90. DG -

    I laughed my booty OFF with this one! THANK YOU for saying the thing that apparently many women have been wanting to say. Please tell me you will submit this to some large publicaton as a bit of humor and information. Heck..make it another wee book for little girls growing up and toilet training.

    Take care.

  91. Brilliant Diana!!!
    Definitely agree with gerri that you should do a bullet point version for people to print off and hang up on walls in public toilets!! (and my bathroom for that fact at party times!)
    And what is really terrible at the moment is some British supermarkets now have this weird blue lights in their toilets (i'm told its so drug users can't see their veins to shoot up..how true this is...i don't know) and back to my point you can't see the mess people leave on the seats, due to the poor lighting...have had a few nasty experiences becuase of it I can tell you (well i won't because that would be gross)
    Everyone should give the seat a quick wipe just in case regardless!
    Have finished ranting now!

  92. Oh! I found this on Jupiter Girl's blog here and had to post it. Warning...do not have any liquid in your mouth or a glass in your hand when you read this:

    When you have to visit a public bathroom, you usually find a line of women, so you smile politely and take your place. Once it's your turn, you check for feet under the stall doors. Every stall is occupied.

    Finally, a door opens and you dash in, nearly knocking down the woman leaving the stall.

    You get in to find the door won't latch. It doesn't matter, the wait has been so long you are about to wet your pants! The dispenser for the modern 'seat covers' (invented by someone's Mom, no doubt) is handy, but empty. You would hang your purse on the door hook, if there was one, but there isn't - so you carefully, but quickly drape it around your neck, (Mom would turn over in her grave if you put it on the FLOOR!), yank down your drawer's, and assume ' The Stance.'

    In this position your aging, toneless thigh muscles begin to shake. You'd love to sit down, but you certainly hadn't taken time to wipe the seat or lay toilet paper on it, so you hold 'The Stance.'

    To take your mind off your trembling thighs, you reach for what you discover to be the empty toilet paper dispenser. In your mind, you can hear your mother's voice saying, "Honey, if you had tried to clean the seat, you would have known there was no toilet paper!" And your thighs continue shake and quiver even more.

    You remember the tiny tissue that you blew your nose on yesterday - the one that's still in your purse. (Oh yeah, the purse around your neck, that now, you have to hold up trying not to strangle yourself at the same time). That would have to do. You crumple it in the puffiest way possible. It's still smaller than your thumbnail .

    Someone pushes your door open because the latch doesn't work. The door hits your purse, which is hanging around your neck in front of your chest, and you and your purse topples backward against the tank of the toilet. "Occupied!" you scream, as you reach for the door, dropping your precious, tiny, crumpled tissue in a puddle on the floor, then losing your footing altogether you slide down directly onto the TOILET SEAT. It is wet of course. You bolt up, knowing all too well that it's too late. Your bare bottom has made contact with every imaginable and unimaginable germ and life form on the uncovered seat because YOU never laid down toilet paper -
    not that there was any, even if you had taken time to try. You know that
    your mother would be utterly appalled if she knew, because, you're certain
    her bare bottom never touched a public toilet seat because, frankly, dear, "You just don't KNOW what kind of diseases you could get."

    By this time, the automatic sensor on the back of the toilet is so confused that it flushes, propelling a stream of water like a fire hose against the inside of the bowl that sprays a fine mist of water that covers your butt and runs down your legs and into your shoes. The flush somehow sucks everything down with such force that you grab onto the empty toilet paper dispenser for fear of being sucked down too.

    At this point, you give up. You're soaked by the spewing water and the wet toilet seat. You're exhausted. You try to wipe with a wax coated gum wrapper you found in your pocket and then slink out inconspicuously to the sinks.

    You can't figure out how to operate the faucets with the automatic sensors, so you wipe your hands with spit, the all purpose liquid, and a dry paper towel and walk past the line of women still waiting.

    You are no longer able to smile politely to them, and you no longer try. A kind soul at the very end of the line points out a piece of toilet paper trailing from your shoe. (Where was that when you NEEDED it??) You yank the paper from your shoe, plunk it in the woman's open hand and tell her warmly, "Here, you just might need this."

    As you exit, you spot your hubby, who has long since entered, used, and left the men's restroom. Annoyed, he asks, "What took you so long, and why is your purse hanging around your neck?"

  93. Brava! Brava! This needs to be published in every newspaper in America. You can't get cooties from the toilet seat! Siddown! :D

  94. When we moved into our new office three years ago, I was weirdly excited about the novelty of toilets that flushed themselves, thanks to the strategically placed electric eye. The novelty wore off rather quickly.

    It took a few frustrating days of pulling out the tissue thin toilet liner, billowing it out like a miniature parachute, placing it gingerly on the seat and then stealthily moving to align myself into proper position, before watching, usually from the most undignified position imaginable, my "protection" sucked away by a premature flush.

    I now wipe the seat of any remnants of the prior occupant and get down to business immediately. Not only do I save time, I've actually succeeded in reducing my blood pressure.

    A win - win if there ever was one. [g]

  95. :D
    I love that bathroom sign. First spotted it in an employee bathroom.

  96. I know I'm joining this discussion a bit late in the game having just discovered this extremely poignant and timely discourse on the Butt-Cootie. I thought the ensuing hilarity might result in an embarrassing and unseemly incident of Peeing-in-one's-Pants. Butt cooties abound in Houston as well as in the afore documented Chicago. This is also one of my pet peeves. Nothing worse than to be unexpectedly "christened" in a public bathroom with something a little less pure (but certainly almost as sterile as) holy water.

  97. ... and a third: "pallet" (great for slumber parties).

  98. this is hysterical!

    i am in total agreement with you on this one...i give a similar speech at burning man each year, as the fear of public toilets seem to be actually more intense if the public toilets in question are portable =)

  99. Butt cooties!! LMAO! Thanks for the good laugh. I needed it!

  100. That is the most hilarious rant I think I have ever read. Thanks for the laugh.

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