Sunday, November 05, 2006

Worldbuilding with my head in a bathroom fixture

Did we ever seen anyone go to the toilet on Star Trek (TM)?

I mean that in all sincerity and with the greatest of respect,
and in the best possible taste.

Jacqueline's first rate posting about servants has stimulated me to
consider other necessary matters that world leaders would like to do
--or get done-- silently, invisibly, without fuss or flap.


Once upon a time, the King of a large, modern, Western country
came to visit one of a major auto-maker's design facilities. Both the Gents' and Ladies' bathrooms on one floor were closed to the public and reserved for their visiting Majesties' exclusive convenience.

As I recall the tale as it was told to me, their Majesties availed themselves of the opportunity (Royalty always goes when the opportunity presents itself, or is respectfully presented), took the entire entourage in with them (the host had assumed that the entourage would wait outside, and go afterwards), and conversation continued uninterrupted by any acknowledgement whatsoever that the setting was temporarily less formal.

My source has completely forgotten ever telling me this. He says I imagined it. I never forget a good potty story (but I do have strange dreams).

Bathroom scenes are part of my world building. The logistics of necessity are important to my fashionista heroine when she is marooned on a previously uninhabited island in INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL. She warms up to the hero considerably when he takes the time to fashion a decent toilet seat for her.

There are bathroom fixtures I've considered that would probably never get past an editor of romances. Just like only villains in Regency romances have bad breath, no one breaks wind in a spaceship, and there is no mechanism to deal with a problem that even aliens ought to have... I would have thought.

It's simply not heroic to back up to an interior, miniature porthole.

If water might be a precious commodity in outer space, much might be done with suction and air pressure (I suppose). Also recycling. One has to think of physics, and chemistry, and gravity, and logistics.

Assuming that all romantic aliens are humanoid... now I pause to think of the alien who kept his genitals in his knee caps... and if one could eliminate waste through ones feet, that could be convenient, depending where one lived, but again, it would not be romantic.

I've never been sure about fictional bathrooms on spaceships that appear out of nowhere at the push of a button. Walls move. Space is created with no discernable impact on the size of the living area. Solid bathroom fixtures appear. How? Is the bathroom like Dr. Who's Tardis? I could accept a shower, but not a jacuzzi, I guess. But, then, I am not a plumber.

Why push a button? What about a Clap-On Crapper? What fun if the alien-romance's human heroine were to clap her hands in delight over some unrelated matter, and the toilet would shoot out of the walls, slosh and retreat, and reappear until she had the wit to stop clapping!

Can any reader point me in the direction of a well designed alien loo?

Best wishes,


  1. Anonymous11:10 AM EST

    Wait a minute! What's this about 'genitals in his knee cap?' I want to see/ read that one!

    But you're right, I can only think of one romance I've read with a potty scene and they were outdoors, handcuffed together. And it wasn't a SFR.

    Vicky Woodard

  2. Hey, Vicky,

    This was in the Star Trek movie where an older and rather portly Captain Kirk was sentenced to "life" on a frozen prison colony and "befriended" by the cigar smoking alien shapeshifter who had been hired to lure him to his death.

    Kirk kicked a would-be assailant in the knees and was surprised that the assailant seemed so injured.

    Later, the shape shifter shifted to look like Kirk, and they fought each other. I wish I could remember how Spock was able to tell which was the correct one to kill in the nick of time.

    Best wishes,
    Rowena Cherry

  3. Anonymous12:38 PM EST

    Outdoors when nature calls...

    Hey, Vicky,

    Did you see this report of a Jay Leno show feature about the most embarrassing first date? It's been floating around the internet, so it may not be true, but I do hope this is fair use!

    If not, I apologise to the unknown author.

    It was midwinter, snowing and cold, when a gentleman took his feminine date for a pleasant, platonic day of skiing in the mountains.

    Late that afternoon they set off for the longish drive home as the temperature dropped.

    They were about an hour away from anywhere with a rest room and in the middle of nowhere when the young lady felt the pressing call of nature.

    After a while, there came a point where the embarrassed young lady told the gentleman (with great reluctance, because they were still strangers) that he'd have to stop the car and let her pee at the side of the road.

    He stopped, she got out and started to relieve herself. In the deep snow she didn't have good footing, so she let her butt rest against the rear fender for support.

    The gentleman behaved with great correctness, and stood on the other side of the vehicle keeping watch for other cars.

    Relief gave way to dismay as the young lady tried to rise and found that her buttocks were frozen to the car's fender.

    Thoughts of tongues frozen to pump handles immediately came to mind as she attempted to disengage her flesh from the icy metal. It was quickly apparent that she had a brand new problem due to the extreme cold.

    "What is taking so long?" the gentleman asked gently.

    The young lady explained her problem and requested his assistance.

    Both agreed it would take something hot to free her! There was only one thing to do (they had not packed a thermos).

    So, as she looked the other way, her first-time date unzipped his pants and peed her butt off the fender.

    I'd love to know whether that romance lasted!

  4. Very interesting, Rowena. I can see we have a lot in common...I've often worried about those omitted bathroom scenes, too.

    Maybe I should mention, my time-travel romance LADY OF THE TWO LANDS, set in ancient Egypt, has a scene where the heroine has to learn to cope with primitive bathroom facilities. I did quite a bit of
    research for that scene!

    Elizabeth Delisi

  5. Anonymous8:53 AM EST

    ROFLMHO! Oh, good grief, Rowena! The story about the lady who couldn't hold it, and the gentleman who "unfroze" her was hysterical!

    And...Clap-On Crapper, indeed!

    Carla, still chuckling : )

  6. Only you, Rowena! ;-)

    But excellent blog. Yep, I have bathrooms in almost all my books. Check my cabin descriptions in FINDERS KEEPERS, in which I also have a 'must do laundry' scene (now show me many books that have that!). In GABRIEL'S GHOST and AN ACCIDENTAL GODDESS, characters shower and deal with drying their hair and such necessities. In my current WIP, THE DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES, I have a Florida cop whose been transported up to an alien ship trying to figure out how to turn on the shower.

    And I have all this because yes, I've noticed as you have that these necessities are often ignored. My characters breathe, eat, make love, scratch an itch, wash, shampoo, shave and yes, use the loo. ;-)

    A clap-on crapper would scare the bee-jeesus out of me!


  7. Thank you, Linnea,

    We should have started an aliens'-toilet blog! I'm glad you deal with the less romantic facts of life, too.

    I'd love to see those scenes. Could you post them? Or could make Jan-Feb (midwinter) newsletter issue be dedicated to such scenes? What a theme! The ROTBFLMAO issue (B being bathroom!)

    Are you up for promo in jan/feb?