Monday, January 28, 2008

One From the Road: Crappy Crapper Redux

Am I really talking about public bathrooms again? At this rate I may as well just commit myself to exploring this niche to the extent it so thoroughly deserves, and finally settle on a name and blog layout that I’m happy with...

So where was I? Bulgaria, actually. This story isn’t quite as epic a tale as the last in the series, but I hope you paid attention to the character development. (Cheat sheet: my father doesn’t like to be prepared on holidays, so spontaneity is the name of the game).

Last August, my two younger brothers and I decided that we would like to accompany our father in a visit to Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. After three days, we grew weary of wandering around the immensity of the city (novel as it was to play charades when negotiating nourishment from waiting staff) and we upped and left to Sunny Beach – an atrociously soulless tourist spot, akin to the Canary Islands.

Sunny Beach, which not only has an awful name, is also located an awfully long way away from where we were located. For some reason, we decided the best course of action was to hire a taxi to drive us the 360km to where we wanted to be. As much as I’d love to make this entry about the hilarity that ensued as this inept driver got us lost 150km in the wrong direction, stopped to defecate at the side of a busy (not to mention dusty) road, and the non-conversations we had with him through wild gesticulations and half-comprehensions, I feel I should keep to the theme.

Considering the magnitude of the voyage, Sunny Beach was a huge letdown. It was overrun by poor interpretations of Irish Pubs, and brimmed with beer bellied Brits who found the most efficient means of trans-cultural communication to be raising one’s voice. Since none of our party was interested in any whistle-wetting, we were only too happy to bugger off two days later. The only problem with this was securing a means of locomotion that would get us home in time for our flight from Sofia, which lay about 6 hours to the east.

In the end, we settled for hopping on a bus at 1am or so, in the hopes of sleeping until we got to where we needed to be. Getting to sleep was difficult, if not impossible, thanks to the sheer heat of the bus. Amazingly, the broken air-conditioning made enough noise so as to keep a person awake, while offering no cooling comfort whatsoever. About two hours into the journey, my 16 year old brother took off his t-shirt and lay slumped in the chair topless. I laughed at him. An hour later I joined him. Fifteen minutes later my father joined us. Must have been quite a sight; three crazy shirtless foreigners in the back row, arranged in order of chest-hair prominence.

So where does the eponymous toilet come in, the more impatient readers ask? At about 4am sometime, maybe later, the bus pulls into a really dodgy looking rest-stop, and everyone files out. We begrudgingly clothed ourselves and ventured outside into the refreshing cold night air. Despite how late it was, the rest stop were serving food and drinks, and there were a few kids playing around in the house that this makeshift cafe was attached to. It seemed quite perverse.

The pitifulness of my bladder has been well established by now, so it’s almost needless to say that my first order of business was to find a suitable venue to purge my piss.

Having learnt from past experience, I was equipped with sufficient amounts of the local currency to deal with even the most burdensome of bathroom invigilators. Staggeringly enough, there was one present after 4 in the morning! How much money is there to be made from charging people for their excretory needs, I wonder? Regardless, the results of the premium I paid for such a privilege are perplexing.

That is a toilet. Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you; that bowl is set into the floor. It’s not a misplaced shower-basin either; all of the other stalls were the same! Unfortunately, the phone doesn’t capture the local species of creepy-crawlies that reside in and around the bathroom prefab (to date, I’ve yet to see a bigger millipede)!

The most entertaining part of this story for me, on personal level, is my father’s reaction to my account of one of the more unique toilets I’ve encountered in my day. He decided he had to see it for himself, and so he bounded past the bathroom attendant. When she barked at him, seeking remuneration, he turned, shrugged at her, and continued on his mission.

Cheeky bastard.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Not Getting Enough Sully in Your Diet?

Millions of people blog everyday. No big deal. But when it's someone within one of my few feeble social circles, (and it's been a slow blogging month), I deem it worthy of a blog entry!

My older brother has jumped on the blogging bandwagon. But unlike his younger brother, he's not a mere 'blogger'. He has embraced the term 'blogster', which has a much more startlingly aggressive connotation!

The mission statement for 'For When I Have Nothing Better to Do'? To be the largest independent online resource for softcore male-on-male pornography! Um... Or not. Maybe I should let him speak for himself at this stage.

Being very much into IT and currently studying it (final year), I have a few nice projects and some source code that other students might find useful.

The URL for what will surely someday be a great repository for recommended programs and esoteric whoosy-whatsits is

I can't think about the URL of this blog without hearing that incessant (British Accented, oddly enough) voice in my head saying 'Diarmuidos'. So being the nerd that I am...

Let the record show that this took far more effort and time than it ought to have!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

4 Indisputable Proofs That The World Hates Sully

It just wasn’t my week... The following four tales of woe are related only by the long-lasting psychological trauma they have incurred. I have painfully relived the events here, as an attempt to document the root cause of sudden shift in my temperament that my loved ones must endure for the rest of my days.

The Heist
I love Cadbury’s Crème eggs. To an unhealthy extent. I’m sure that their seasonal-novelty is only half of the reason why I am compelled to shovel copious amounts of them into my face. I find them so arrestingly moreish, that the only way I can moderate my intake is to freeze them, thus making the act of cracking the outer chocolaty-shell a delicious challenge. On more than one occasion I’ve been airlifted to the nearest hospital to have my stomach pumped following a fondant-overdose (note- may not be true).

I tell you this, dear reader, so you can imagine the utter horror that struck me last Saturday. As I looked lovingly at the 6-pack of oval-wonders I had just purchased, and gently caressed the cardboard housing, my index finger felt a slight bump on the side of the packet where there shouldn’t have been one. It was a tear. Someone had pulled a Crème-Egg-Caper! As of yet, the local detectives have yet to return my calls, so I’m appealing to anybody who was in the Dunnes Stores in the Parkway Shopping Centre Limerick, on the 12th of January 2008 to come forward with any information they might have. I’m suspecting it was an inside job.

Whatever bastard deprived me of the full half-dozen lumps of joy is going to pay.

Air: The Basis of Breathing, but Bane of my Breakfast

I’m a stickler for bag scrunching. I like my cereal to be as fresh and as crispy as the day I opened it.

I like Weetabix. It’s a good cereal. Possibly the best cereal. My most prolific afternoons are often attributed to the bricks of wheat I ate that morning.

It’s a safe assumption then, that I like my Weetabix to be as fresh and as crispy as the day I opened it. But what if it wasn’t exactly fresh and crispy on the day I opened it? Amazingly enough, due to some packing error, the plastic wrapping over my ‘Bix was open before I laid eyes on ‘em, meaning that the air had been getting at the precious slabs of whole-wheat goodness for an amount of time that doesn't bear thinking about!

My housemates skimped on the sympathy, so feel free to leave your condolences in the comments section.

Running on Empty? I Wish!

I enjoy warmth. I enjoy washing my hands with hot water. I’m quite partial to having clean dishes and silverware too. I’m also a fan of eating hot food that was prepared on the stove.

Of course, I’ve been deprived of every one of those things, as my rented accommodation relies on the empty canister of gas out the back of the house for central heating, hot water, and the stove. The amount of things this has deprived us of is frustrating and liberating in equal measure. Sure, it sucks having a pile of crusty plates stacking up because washing them in cold water is pointless, but at least I have a reason not to shave!

My strategy has been to lounge around in other people’s houses as much as possible. My father told me to call over for a cup of tea – I left his house 8 hours later. When I have no choice but to stay in this sizeable icebox, I wear as many layers as possible. Whilst this provides most of my body with ample insulation, my hands get unusably frigid during typing endeavours such as this one, so in between lines I shove my hands under my ass until my buttocks numb, (which incidentally, is fun sensation that I heartily endorse).

I’m not the only one struggling with this recent inconvenience. Two of my housemates have tried to lure me into their rooms for bodywarmth-sharing purposes, and one of them has misappropriated the toaster from the kitchen and created a tinfoil satellite in the hopes of Macguyvering up a heating solution to tide us over.

Dead On Arrival

I’m a bit of a tech-whore. I have to restrain myself on an almost daily basis from blathering on about new innovations and breakthroughs that I’m excited about on this very blog. When I get a computer, I tend to get quite attached. I’ve taken to giving them names based on their aesthetics, and I casually refer to them as such to the befuddlement of my few remaining friends. They’re like my children, and I love them as such. The latest addition to my computer-family was Landis. Landis was a misbehaving old sort, and much like as if he were my own troubled child, I put him up for adoption.

Sorry - I’m confusing myself with this sloppy metaphor business. Anyway, Landis was sick from the first day I had him. In three months, I spent a total of around seven hours on the phone to Dell Tech Support, lost all my data 8 (!) times, had two visits from an engineer, went through four harddrives and two motherboards, but still, nothing fixed the problems. The final straw was Dell Support telling me that there was nothing wrong with my computer whatsoever, based on the extremely shallow diagnostics they ran, only for the Harddrive to physically fail a few hours later. Following a somewhat epic struggle, I prevailed in getting a refund, despite the endeavours of the folk at Dell’s Indian call-centre who assured me such a thing was impossible.

Dell’s courier collected the computer today. Considering I’m not a particularly sentimental sort, I found myself quite choked up at the prospect of disposing of a prized (if inherently flawed) possession. The folder I backed up my data in was rather melodramatically called ‘Goodbye Landis’. Of course, part of the reason I felt as though I was at the end of the era could have something to do with the successor to Landis’ throne, but that’s a blog entry for another day (Monday hopefully).

Stashing Landis into his cardboard coffin was a ritual I was all too familiar with, but the prospect of never seeing him again saddened me somewhat, especially since the final 24 hours of use I got out of him were the best I had ever got out of him over our brief time together. Looking morosely through a rain-spattered window as the Interlink van crawled out of the driveway and out of sight, I almost began to regret being so harsh on poor Landis.


I won’t dwell in my despair for too long... Maybe this will cheer me up.

Huh... Guess not!

Friday, January 11, 2008

One From the Road: The Crappy Crapper

Holidays with my father are always an adventure, mostly because he stubbornly refuses to plan anything. A few years ago, he booked a flight for all of us out to Vienna in Austria, but didn’t reserve any hotel rooms. We arrived in this massive city, toting some heavy bags in the kind of heat that doesn’t suit pasty white Irishmen like ourselves, and wandered around for hours looking for shelter.

Despite how fun that doesn’t sound, there is something hugely liberating about that kind of an outlook while you’re on holiday, as we didn’t feel tied down to any one hotel, or country, for that matter. After two days of Vienna, we felt we had seen enough, and ventured onto Budapest, until we tired of that, at which point we decided to check out Bratislava in Slovakia.

I can’t quite remember the circumstances that led up to the point of this overly personal story; it’s possible that we were after getting off a bus that took us to a train station, but when we finally arrived in Bratislava, my bladder was brimming in such a painful fashion that I was dangerously close to considering wetting myself and letting the dry heat dry the stain away. After hours of holding it in, the relief I felt at finally witnessing a large, albeit derelict-looking, train station before me caused me to shudder a little joyful shudder at the prospect of excreting these troubling litres of fluid.

I ditched my brothers by the bus as they waited for the driver to retrieve the bags and hurled myself into the train station. It was every bit as run-down looking on the inside as it was on the outside, but it smelt extra musky. I looked around frantically for a place to deposit my urine, but saw nothing. The signs were exclusively in Slovak, so I had to take a moment to compose myself and figure out where I wanted to be. The universal stick-man/woman symbol pointed upstairs, so upstairs I went. I bounded up the large wide staircase as my bladder bounced around violently in protest, but I didn’t care - I was on the home stretch! Salvation lay just ahead! Or so I thought.

Perhaps I switched from a stride to a stroll a little late, as I crashed into that bathroom with such aplomb that I almost knocked a small bespectacled woman off her stool. It was a mensroom attendant. Urk. The toilets were dark, dank, and clammy, bereft of a single window to offer light or odour extraction, and after my first breath I got a distinctly salty taste in my mouth, which should give you an idea of how potent the stink was. The seemingly ineffectual bathroom attendant pointed to a sign that caused my heart to falter for a moment, but my adrenaline had yet to run dry. Despite the fact that it was in another language, I will never forget that sign as long as I live.

Pisoár 15 SKK
Skriňa 25 SKK


I did what any man would do in the situation. I shrugged at her and walked past. I had no money! I had to go! She started barking at me in Slovak as I approached the nearest free urinal. Just as I was undoing my fly in this decrepit hole of a toilet, someone grabbed my arm. The bathroom attendant. Despite the fact that other men were relieving themselves, she deemed it appropriate to reprimand the cheapskate. The withered hag dragged me out to the same sign she had once pointed to and now began to slap it vigorously, all the while yammering away in a tongue I didn’t understand, but a tone I knew all too well.

Few times in my life have I felt physically crushed by disappointment. This was one of those moments. Pleading is quite futile when playing charades is your only means of communication. I clasped my hands together in prayer, begging her. Nothing. I grabbed my crotch and danced on the spot for her. Nothing. I tried pointing at the urinal, miming a urination stance, pointing at my imaginary watch, then at the basket full of foreign coins. Nothing. (Okay - so maybe it’s understandable that she didn’t respond favourably to the last one, but how the hell do you mime “I’ll urinate first, then return and pay you”?) I put a 2 euro coin in her basket, she fished it out and threw it at me in a manner that suggested she believed it would poison all the other legal tender. Her incomprehensible nattering was clear. It said “No toilet for you!”

Possibly the lowest moment of my life, that moment of resignation. I did a quick Pro/Con analysis. Was I willing to spend the rest of my life being called ‘Seanie-Seanie-Pee-Pants’ at every family reunion? Would I be able to regain the trust and respect of my future children if I explained to them the tenacity of the bathroom attendant and the extenuating circumstances that led to my public act of incontinence?

The next part is all a blur. I went downstairs, found my father, dragged him over to the bureau de change to change those Euros into something useful, ran back upstairs with a pile of strange notes, and returned to the scene of my attempted crime, equipped with the means to gain ingress to this rather exclusive shithole.

“Pisoár?” she asked as she pointed at the sign.
I shook my head.
I nodded. I wanted a cubicle. I was willing to pay the big bucks for the privacy, seeing as I had realised how elusive it was on my previous visit.

She outstretched her palm. One transaction later and I’m strolling towards the cubicle. She beckons me back, and I realise that in my tunnel vision, I’ve neglected to notice that she’s holding up a roll of toilet paper. I try to take the roll, and she slaps my hand back. Nonplussed, I look at her as she uravels a few squares and grunts a question at me. I nod, without a clue as to what she has just said. She unravels some more. She grunts something at me again that ends with a question mark. I nod. She tears the eight squares of
toiletpaper off and hands it to me.

It isn’t until I’m safely in the cubicle that I realise no toilet paper is kept within the stall. The woman was asking me to predict how much paper I would need to satisfy my excretion needs! Had I intended on defecating in the world’s narrowest cubicle, she had left me considerably short changed in equipping me to do so, but these thoughts yielded to more pressing matters.

The relief that bathroom provided almost moved me to tears. The nightmare was over.

This story is a solid illustration of what my ideal holidays are. I got to converse with a Slovakian local, and witnessed first hand some quirks of their society. Quirks like privacy invading bathroom attendants, who charge a premium based on which call of nature you intend on satisfying, dole out toilet paper based on how shitty you predict your arse will be, and wield the authority to interrupt you at any time to accost confused tourists who are delirious with desire to utilise the facilities.

Granted, we didn’t get off to the best start, but I did sign up for their Frequent Pisser Card, which entitles me to one free urinal trip every Saturday.

Monday, January 07, 2008

SWAG! (X-mas Edition)

7th of January already? We’re already a week into this whole 2008 lark and there’s not even a belated ‘Happy Christmas’ blog entry here to show for it? Bad form Sully.

To rectify this malady, I humbly present:

What Sully’s Loved Ones Think of Him

(As interpreted through their Christmas Gifts)

Subject: My Father

Gift: An envelope with money inside.

Meaning: “Acquaint yourself with brown-envelopes well, my son - they will get you far in life.”

Subject: My Girlfriend

Gift: An animated Superman film on DVD.

Meaning: “You are a perpetual man-child. I hereby announce my decision to cease trying to reform you.”

Subject: My Older Brother

Gift: A Wii Carry Case

Meaning: “If you show up at my house, you’d better bring more than your dazzling personality if you’re expecting a warm welcome”

Subject: My Younger Brother

Gift: Nothing

Meaning: “Blasted abacus! I knew there was another brother I needed to buy for!”

Subject: My Mother

Gift: A large suitcase

Meaning: “Piss off. To somewhere far away, preferably.”

Subject: My Aunt

Gift: This item of clothing.

Meaning: "You dress like a pervy old man"

So at this rate, I think I can safely forecast Christmas '08.

My father and I will meet in the park and trade briefcases whilst wearing suits and looking inconspicuous. My girlfriend will gift me a great big starter set of Duplo Blocks. To continue the theme, my Aunt will either give me a zimmer-frame or a bottle of viagra. If I'm lucky, my younger brother will actually go the effort of wrapping a box of nothing, instead of just shrugging at me on Christmas morning. My older brother will 'treat' me to a method of transporting whatever new electrical appliance of mine he covets, whilst my mother pours gunpowder into my brand new cannon, as I have yet to procure myself a means of locomotion to take me away from her house.

Don't you love Christmas?