Flush, With Excitement!

Trip Start Aug 01, 2006
Trip End Aug 13, 2006

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Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Wednesday, August 2, 2006
Frankfurt, Germany

There isn't a whole lot to write about so far on this tour (but count on me to use a lot of words to say not very much). I have a seat in Business Class from Chicago to Frankfurt, and am a little disgruntled that it is behind a bulkhead. That means all my carryon bags must remain in the overhead bins for takeoff and landing. I usually like to nest before takeoff, and organize around me all the things I want to use during the flight-laptop, files, books, unguents, lotions, eye drops, earplugs-you get the picture. I decide the universe is telling me that I shouldn't do anything but sleep on this flight and just leave everything but the eye drops and ear plugs up top.

As soon as the flight attendant brings me a drink and takes my meal order I pop a sleeping pill. I order the express dinner so I don't have to sit through several courses. They deliver it all at once so you can gobble it down and go right to sleep. My appetizer is smoked salmon and capers with caramelized onions. The entrée is a Caesar salad with a hot pecan encrusted chicken breast. Desert is a slice of Eli's Cheesecake. I restrain myself and only eat half the desert.

The priest sitting next to me in his black jacket and shirt with collar and slacks (in the 100+ degrees we left behind) is headed to Lisbon with a group of 100 on the plane. They are all going to a retreat facility at Fatima, where he is going to do a lot of "preaching." He seems excited and eager to talk. I don't encourage him lest I say something inflammatory and disrespectful, like: "How do you feel being a cog in an organization that discriminates against gay people?" I show him how to work all the gadgets on the seats in Business Class (he is obviously a first-time B.C. flyer), and ask him to poke me when they come around with breakfast service.

I lay my seat back and try to go to sleep at exactly 9:00pm, Chicago time. It is turbulent, and I feel a gentle bouncing. The next thing I know the priest is poking me. It is now exactly 2:00am Chicago time. Five hours of solid sleep-pretty good for a flight to Europe!

I find the Star Alliance Executive Lounge and have my first cup of coffee. They have a machine that makes a mean cappuccino. Except for apples there isn't a crumb of natural fiber in sight. Meats, cheeses, crackers, gummy bears, all the liquor you could ever consume-but no bran!

Undaunted, but woefully unprepared, I make a valiant effort on the toilet. The only good thing I have to report is that I added to my ever-increasing repertoire of stories I can tell about "Toilets I Have Known Around the World."

I have marveled at the various additions to the standard American version that creative people have developed in other countries. The pinnacle, of course, is the Japanese "Toto" brand, which is very much like taking your butt to the car wash-complete with rinse and dry cycles. At O'Hare I enjoy the fact that you wave your hand over a wall-mounted sensor and the plastic seat cover changes to ensure you are sitting on something no other naked rear has previously touched.

Here in Frankfurt they have taken the seat cleanliness concept to a new level. As soon as you flush the toilet, a little gadget comes out from the wall and clamps down on the toilet seat. It begins squirting water and disinfectant, and the entire seat rotates as this thing sanitizes and then squeegees it all around. You end up with a seat that is still a little wet, but clean enough to eat off of! Isn't that information something you are really happy to know? Don't all rush to make your Frankfurt reservations at once!

Obviously it is a slow news day for the intrepid Toto reporter. Perhaps I will sign off now, and write again when there is something of greater consequence to report! On to Moscow!

Big hugs,
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