Monday, August 6, 2012

A Rose By Another Name

2012 08 06
Naoussa, Paros Island, Greece

Back home no one would ever take photographs of an outhouse.  You know the outhouse: used for a toilet before we had indoor plumbing.  A few old barn boards not needed for useful purpose, broken, sundried, weathered beyond usability were nailed together around a hole in the ground to permit an occupant to perform the execratory part of their morning ablutions.  

Its purpose was to providew a modicum of modesty to the user of the facility and to keep the bitter winds of winter from freezing said user's heiny solid.  Its boards in ordinary usage went so long in service without benefit of sealing paint they absorbed the odours of its occupants, all those sulfur compounds and nitrates and now oozed them back in a gross parady of ambiance.  It smelled.  Usually it smelled horribly.

If you took that same reekings pile of useless worn out boards to Greece or Italy or Spain within minutes some tourist would be seen filming the decrepity capturing it from every angle and in every sun.

"How quaint" they would gush, as if the execratory function executed in Europe were somehow sainted, removed from the realm of the ordinary and given grace by virtue of geography.

The building would be called a "Maison de de la Bûche qui Tombe" and an enterprising European would soon be charging €5 admission so you could enter the building and experience first hand life as it was lived at the Palais de Versailles (ignoring the fact that in the heyday of that institution of government its residents and guests just found a quiet spot and relieved themselves in situ.  Talk about need laws to curb your dogs).

All said and done it is just a smelly old outhouse.  A building which time has passed by leaving with no useful function and a building with no aesthetic or historical or cultural purpose; a building which, if it sat in your backyard, would  be torn down.

In truth some of the toilets, private not just public, I have entered in Spain have resembled, in smell, hygiene and appeal outhouses far more closely than you would ever believe.  In Tunisia an outhouse would be preferred to most public washrooms and many hotel bathrooms and undeniably superior to the controlled entry marina washroom and shower at Hammamet which I refused to use.  

Ahhhh.  But stick that decrepit smelly useless piece of cultural and historical irrelevance  on European soil it would be revered.

Even better if you built in mid desert in North Africa UNESCO would declare it a world heritage site.  

And the lowly outhouse would be in good company, surrounded by all the other treasures of antiquity found here.  Amongst its peers.

1 comment:

  1. Well done Bob. You are now an authority on outhouses. I look forward to the continuing high standard of literary prose as you continue to dissect European culture. By the way, the Caribbean awaits you.