Friday, September 14, 2018

Nobody Gives a Crap

Profiles in Middledom: #2 in a series, featuring Middle Children (real-life or otherwise) who have earned their place in the pantheon of birth order oblivion.

Required Reading: every
Middle Child's favorite
bathroom book.

     Middle Child Thomas Crapper is often cited as the inventor of the modern flush toilet. But lavatory historians will tell you, that’s a load of crap. While Crapper was a prominent London plumber who did do much to popularize sanitary plumbing in the 1800’s, he’s hardly the first to sit in the “Oval Office.” He was the first to display flushing toilets in a showroom and held three patents for water closet improvements, including the floating ballcock and siphonic flush toilet -- but none was for the flush toilet itself. (By the way, if you think the word Crap derives from his name, you’re shit out of luck. Crap is actually of Middle English origin, predating the creation of Thomas Crapper & Co. in 1861 by hundreds of years, so there’s no direct link -- just a too-good-to-be-true coincidence.)
His Royal Hiney-ness?: Well,
now you know why we call

it "the John."
     But fear not, Middle Child. Our flush with greatness remains intact, because it was another Mid Kid who lays claim to the porcelain throne. Sir John Harington was a godson of Queen Elizabeth I who liked telling risqué stories. (An early case of potty mouth, maybe?) As a result, he was banished from the court and exiled to a small town near, wait for it -- Bath. Can’t make this shit up.

"Going to the crapper" since
World War I:
American GIs

in England saw the name on
cisterns and used it as slang.
     During his time away, somewhere between 1584-91, Harington built himself a house and created the world’s first flushing toilet. When the Queen eventually forgave him and visited his house, she was so impressed with the invention, she had one installed in one of her palaces. Still, it took another 200 years of improvements for the idea to catch on. In the 1880s, England's future King Edward VII hired a prominent London plumber to construct lavatories in several royal palaces. Yep, you guessed it -- Mr.Crapper. And since I can’t resist making another toilet-related pun, the rest is shitstory.
     So the next time you use the "crapper" or the "John," you can do so proudly, knowing a Middle Child helped make it all possible. No ifs or ands. Just plenty of butts.

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