My Three Seashells

In Demolition Man, police officer John Spartan is cryogenically frozen and revived in San Angeles, a utopian/dystopian repressed future Southern California. After using the facilities, Spartan searches for toilet paper and finds instead only an enigmatic set of three seashells.

The movie (wisely) never explains how these are to be used, leaving the audience just as puzzled as the protagonist.

In Australia, I’ve encountered my own version of the Three Seashells.

Australia Toilet Buttons - My Three Seashells

Australia Toilet Buttons - My Three Seashells

Every toilet down under has two buttons. In the example pictured there is a smaller button and a larger button. On others one button is labeled with a filled semi-circle and the other a filled circle.

One might guess at the proper use of the two buttons, and one might be right. I’m still not sure.

As one hypothesis, I thought one button might produce a bidet action. Upon testing (standing well back to be safe), I determined this was not the case.

Failing some special function, it seems implied that one button should produce a stronger or longer flush than the other, but on casual inspection I would say if this is the difference, it is a subtle one.

I was hoping one button might provide a proper Northern Hemisphere swirl pattern for us Yanks, but sadly I’ve found most toilets here produce no swirl at all. So much for witnessing the Coriolis effect. (Yes, I know it doesn’t really work that way.)

So, the purpose of two different buttons remains a mystery to me. It may be better that way, as you really do not want to know how the three seashells are supposed to work. Really, I’m warning you not to click on that link. It will take you to a blog called the Poop Report. Consider yourself forewarned.


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