One of my previous hobbies involved taking pictures of the toilets (or a toilet) in a place I visited. (I didn’t take a picture if the place were filthy.) At the apex of my hobby, I had at least a 100 great toilet pictures. I’ll bet you’ve never read that sentence in your life before, have you? Say what you will about the foolishness of such an endeavor, it was certainly inexpensive to collect such “mementos” of the places I had visited. I would even take them back when all I had was a traditional film camera. Imagining what the people printing the pictures were thinking was no small part of the fun of the stupidity I enjoyed.
Whether I sauntered into the Imax in Tulsa, Oklahoma, or Liberace’s private bathroom, I would take a snapshot of the toilet. Doing this rarely failed to give a me a burst of laughter. There were times someone might walk in during my shot. More than once, I had looks of outlandishly bewildered expressions thrown at me. On one occasion, I took a shot and the flash must have bewildered someone in an adjacent stall I thought to be empty. I heard a very quiet “What the f$%^” come out of the supposedly empty stall. Explaining what I was doing in these situations didn’t seem to sate the curiosity of those who walked in during these photography sessions! No, it usually inspired the inquisitive people to march away quickly, very quickly.
A few years ago, I had visited Olive Garden in Fayetteville with my cousin Jimmy Terry. He wanted to “see me in action,” so to speak. He accompanied me to the bathroom and as I opened the stall door, he couldn’t control his laughter. “I can’t believe you do this all the time!” he giggled. I let him take the picture but his giggling resulted in all 3 of the pictures coming out looking like he had a seizure while trying to take the picture. More than once, Jimmy would later ask me if I took a picture of any toilets while I went to Vegas or to a new restaurant. He liked to joke that I should get a photography service started and do the photo shoots ONLY in bathrooms. He said it would be easier to clump everyone together if they were all crammed in a stall together – and that they would be more inclined to not waste time, especially if the stall were “between users,” so to speak. He added that since people were always running off to the bathroom, doing the shoot IN the bathroom would be thereby eliminated as an excuse, too.
When going through old photo albums, you could have seen two dozen pictures of the Air Museum only to be thrown off guard halfway through by a full-color shot of one of the toilets residing there. Every once and a while, I would throw in a picture of one of the toilets in the dvd picture slideshows I loved making. (From my perspective, there was just as much recognition of my visit having seen the toilet as the front of the building housing it.) Including toilet pictures in a person’s slideshow is a quick method to determine how much of a sense of humor someone might have.
(I used to joke that such a book would make an excellent coffee table book. The novelty of such an item should have been enough to achieve modest sales, even as a gag gift.)
Sometime not too long ago, I thought I was doing myself a favor by culling the toilet shots out of my photo collections. I think by doing so that I excised a portion of my wonderment and amusement toward the world. It would be a great pleasure to laugh at some of those pictures again and to test how many I could identify without any context.