Philadelphia Reflections

The musings of a physician who has served the community for over six decades

Related Topics

Customs, Culture and Traditions
Abundant seafood made it easy to settle here. Agriculture takes longer.

Old Age, Re-designed
A grumpy analysis of future trends from a member of the Grumpy Generation.

Put Down That Lid!

Emily Post

Indoor plumbing, which the British call the loo, has been around for a couple of centuries without stirring up much dissension. Recently, however, attention has been drawn to the outrageousness of the male habit of leaving the lid up. Popular television or something similar has put it about that walking away from the loo requires some statement of etiquette on the point of leaving the lid up or down, depending on knowing the gender of the next person in line for the facility and courteously anticipating the correct up-or-down requirements. Apparently, it's like holding a door open for someone who follows you (rather than letting it slam in their face), except it requires a degree of prediction that some people might think gets a little presumptuous. Furthermore, there is an intimation that only males are now to be required to make the proper gesture. A little thought on the matter would indicate that graceful anticipation might reasonably be suggested to either gender using a common loo. Emily Post is now regarded as fussy and outmoded, but she always offered some commonsense explanation for her rules of behavior, while this seems just a little mixed up.


Putting considerable thought into this new discussion topic, one important issue does pop up. If the bathroom owner happens to be a single lady, finding that her lid has been left up would seem to imply that the lady had recently had a visitor. Perhaps we are really on to something, here.

And then, there are the ladies of a certain age, whose habits are firmly fixed. Being occasionally in a great hurry, they might not notice that some ill-mannered brute has left the lid up, and suddenly find they were in cold water. It could indeed happen, but raises the question of just who has failed to develop proper habits or receive sensible training in childhood. Since the consequences might well be getting stuck, or at the least needing to get completely undressed to take a shower, perhaps outrage is somewhat justified. Certainly, one has to sympathize with the need to keep the matter secret from waiting for dinner guests. Boiling with rage at the thoughtless person who has done this to her, the frustration of being unable even to mention the matter without being ridiculed -- must be painful indeed. Most brutish males would think it was a pretty stupid situation, possibly a hilarious one. Particularly unfeeling ones might even hint this ought to be heeded as the first sign of Alzheimer's disease.

Originally published: Wednesday, February 14, 2007; most-recently modified: Monday, June 03, 2019

Walter Z. entertained us with this at lunch today.
Posted by: Bob Twitchell   |   May 15, 2007 9:27 PM