Stephanie Hayes

I found it. The moment technological advances became so powerful they were rendered irreversible. The fulcrum of a changed human experience.

A toilet that can flush golf balls.

Inside a Lowe’s, the world folded in on itself like a neutron star grown too large. Was I imagining this? The box in the toilet aisle read:


Therapists say you should sit in your discomfort. My husband, sensing I needed time, shuffled off to look at cabinet pulls.

It was the American Standard Champion 4, which sounds like a heroic golden retriever. This collection was introduced years ago, an exciting addition to the world of powerful plumbing. I have never claimed to be a breaking news reporter. They are popular in both homes and hotels, with the motto: “We are tired of coming to the room at 2 a.m. to see about a clog.”

This commode haunted me. We are in the middle of double bathroom renovations, and each decision feels like the most important and least important thing in the world. I have projected all anxieties about troublesome global events onto the EXACT. RIGHT. TILE. Have you ever heard the word “Schluter”? You have now. It’s as relaxing as watching Uncut Gems.

Could the perfect toilet really exist, flushing all ills? If mankind can create an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant, comfort-height throne with a large trapway that flushes with the power of the Titan gods of the four winds, does that mean there is hope for this broken world?

We are perpetually lectured by bathroom stall notes. Usually, it’s a straightforward request to flush only toilet paper.

Or it’s a whimsical rhyme, like: “What’s this poem all about? Flush your tissue and get out!”

Then, worst of all — there’s the passive-aggressive missive, written by the same anon who posts that the office microwave “doesn’t clean itself.”

With good reason, though! There is something called a fatberg, which is a disgusting sewer blockage of all the bad things people flush. And American Standard doesn’t want us to flush weird things, either, of course. Golf balls are a marketing stand-in for, um, you know.

But it can flush golf balls, and there is Toilet Content online to prove it. Have you ever spent a Monday morning watching toilet vids on company time? Don’t answer that. There’s one of a kid throwing in Barbie heads, miniature bottles of Pert Plus, stuffed animals and bras. You can watch flushing marshmallows, banana peels, cat litter, hot dogs, rubber tubes and miso paste.

If you’d like to further exacerbate your break from reality, delve into the world of super high-end toilets, like the one made of solid gold in Hong Kong or the one covered in Swarovski crystals in Japan. Briefly, it will make you forget about any looming constitutional crises.

And yet, nothing is perfect, not even the seductive golf ball latrine. You will know this, because your next stop will be toilet review websites. We are always flushing forward in pursuit of something better.

Then, I learned about American Standard’s “VorMax Flush Technology: The Cleanest Flush Ever Engineered,” and time froze across a primordial black hole.

— Stephanie Hayes is a columnist at the Tampa Bay Times in Florida. Follow her on Twitter: @StephHayes and Instagram: @StephHayes. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.