The Dutch have very special toilets: Dutch toilets have a shelf. A shit-shelf. For those not intimately acquainted with this phenomenon, an illustration:
(Actual holiday cottage's privy.)
The beauty and genius of this invention cannot be overstated. After pressing a particularly good turd, one is left with ample opportunity to examine one's product in glorious technicolour detail. Even when (or especially when) said product could be labelled inferior, this process can be most enlightening.
You have to hand it to the Dutch. For a nation which can get it so wrong in so many respects (their food, their beer, their popular music - I could go on), they get it so right in this one. This national obsession with feces somehow endears them to me.
I've always said that if we ever build our own house, I want my own Dutch toilet. I am sufficiently anally focused to have an endless interest in my every daily excretion, so I truly believed such a toilet would enhance my life considerably.
Now... I'm not so sure. The glorious technicolour detail is without a doubt impressive, exhilarating and most informative. Which sentient being in their right mind would not, post-poop, get up to admire one's own doodie if offered it literally on a platter? The pleasure is pure and sweet. The smell, however... not so much. I now see the value of instantly immersing one's kaka in water, sealing all odours subaquatically and leaving the pooper fragrantly free to finish reading one's magazine article in pongless peace.
Of course, a compromise might be attempted. An alternative shelved toilet could be constructed, with more of a bowl where the shelf is now. The bowl should be filled with enough water to completely immerse one's stool, while still leaving it fully free for visual inspection. This may be hard to engineer, a watery bowl being by its very nature a very slippery proposition. The jobbie may just slide straight out of such a bowl and down the drain if too forcefully excreted. Perhaps a system of valves would be needed. I digress - this is a problem best left to the better water closet engineer. I am most probably also missing the point entirely: it may very well be that the olfactory component is a crucial element in the Dutch fecal inspection process. A good sniff probably tells you at least as much as an analysis of colour, texture or girth.
Now that I'm back at home and reunited with my boring old Belgian commode, I'm not sure what to think any more. While my daily evacuation was surely less offensive to the world at large, I very much missed the subsequent analysis I had got used to. I am left wondering about the quality of my crap, while yesterday I had certainty. I miss ogling my waste, but I don't miss smelling it.