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Greg Davis

Up or Down? That’s the Question.
By Greg Davis
Apr 4, 2005 - 1:34:00 PM

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There are many issues that create tension between men and women. Some questions do little but divide. One question, though it hasn’t been with us that long, remains a source of conflict between husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, mothers and sons. I blame Thomas Crapper.

Legend has it that Sir Thomas Crapper was the inventor of the flush toilet. Those who have studied the history of plumbing (and believe it or not these people do exist) say that it wasn’t Sir Thomas at all. In fact he was never knighted so he shouldn’t even be called “Sir”. That is just another myth that grew up from his service as royal sanitation engineer for some member of the English nobility. In 1898, British Patent 4990 was issued to Mr. Albert Giblin, an employee of Mr. Crapper, for the "Silent Valveless Water Waste Preventer". The best guess is that Thomas Crapper who had nine plumbing patents to his name, purchased the rights to this patent and marketed the device through his plumbing business.

Even though the benefits of this one fixture of indoor plumbing cannot be adequately expressed, the war over the correct position in which to leave the seat has caused everything from minor skirmishes to all out nuclear war. Since legend has it that Crapper provided us with the flush toilet, his legend will also have to carry the blame for the divisive “Up or down?” question.

I started thinking about this when I noticed that after using the bathroom in my home, I put the toilet seat down. So, what’s the big deal? There is no one else in the apartment but me. I could leave that beloved bathroom fixture in any position that pleased me. But I realized that a habit that I had reserved for other places where it was an issue had just been reenacted in my own bathroom where it wasn’t an issue at all.

The realization that I was sometimes putting the toilet seat down in my house, a genetically unnatural act for males, became a reminder that the “small stuff” is important, especially in relationships.

Based on my experience, a twelve year marriage followed by twelve years as a single-again adult, some dating, some reading examining relationships between men and women, talking with other guys both married and single, I have determined that fighting the up or down toilet seat battle is a no win situation for guys.

Men, before you call me a traitor, hear me out. To us it seems logical that when you go into the bathroom you simply adjust the toilet seat according to the need of the moment. This is a simple procedure that anyone, male or female, can accomplish in a second. But we must understand that this is “testosterone impaired reasoning.”

Men’s logic and women’s logic work differently. As I understand it, women would say something like, “When you are finished in the bathroom, the toilet seat should be returned to its correct position.” Make no mistake men, the correct position of the toilet seat, written in stone, has always been and forever shall be, DOWN, world without end. Amen.

Since I try to choose my battles wisely, this is one “hill” so to speak I’m not going to die on. So, when I’m visiting my friend that I’ve been dating for awhile, I always (well, almost always) put the seat down. This issue is important to her and it is her house, so down it goes. When I do forget, I remind her that by the unnatural act of putting the seat down, I’m attempting to overcome a hard-wired genetic predisposition and thousands of years of ancestral programming. (She doesn’t buy it either.)

If there is someone in your life that is convinced that the correct position of the toilet seat is down, so be it. Down it shall be. But don’t stop there. Start looking for other ways to show consideration and respect. They may seem  “unnatural” at first, like picking things up or really listening or sharing the remote (wait what am I saying?).

But in the long haul of relationships, what appears to be the small stuff, seldom is. Love shows itself most clearly by action played out daily in the small things. How situations like this are handled count, and they count big time.

So, as an act of faith, a reminder, a point of discipline, in spite of thousands of years of male ancestral conditioning fueled by genetic programming and testosterone impaired reasoning, I’m choosing (or at least attempting) to leave the toilet seat in the “correct” position.

But am I ready to thank “Sir Thomas” for this opportunity for personal growth? No way. His legend can handle the blame.

WARNING: the following comments are for GUYS ONLY ...

PS: I do for the most part believe the above, about looking for opportunities to grow and showing respect through actions, but I can’t believe that this is such a big issue. Why can’t “they” just fix the #&%#* seat to suit themselves. If it’s down and I need it up, I put the seat up. If the seat is up and they need it down why can’t they put the stupid thing down, how hard is that? I mean, for crying out loud. Okay then, so I won’t forget to put it down, I’ll just LEAVE it down ALL the time. How would they like that? NOOOO way! Whew, that felt good. And I’ll feel even better when I go through my house and put ALL the toilet seats UP.

PPS: To all the females who ignored the warning and read the “PS”. See? Stuff like this makes us crazy. I know you too. So with just a little understanding and lots of patience we can make it, no matter how that seat is left.

Now back to persona of being the sensitive (blah dee blah) male.

Greg Davis is a single parent who may or may not have a girlfriend after she reads this article. He might still have a chance if he can get the seat thing “right”, along with a few other “small” issues. E-mail:

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