An Interesting Job, where you get to Travel and Meet People
I get to travel a fair amount in the course of my work. I get to know new places, get to return to old places that I know quite well enough, and sometimes spend inordinate amounts of time going to places that are fine in and of themselves, but were built in the wrong place.
The greatest drawbacks to travelling, however, are not to be found in where you go, but in how you get there. Is there anything more relaxing than reclining in a first-class train seat, reading an edifying book, enjoying the food and drink delivered to your seat, snoozing a little, and alighting in a station just a few minutes away from your hotel? Of course there is. But there is a far less relaxing alternative as well: take a plane.
An aeroplane is a high-powered bus with bits glued on. It is therefore a source of constant wonder to me that while a bus station is a simple affair, in its most sophisticated form composed of a few bits of road with pavements between them and a roof above, where passengers are expected to be capable of carrying their own luggage up to the vehicle and may do this at any point up to the scheduled departure time, airports have evolved into steel and glass monstrosities whose primary effect if not explicit design purpose is the creation of opportunities for the passengers to wait.
Waiting is not in and of itself necessarily unpleasant. There is no indication in the Word of God that the angels of the LORD were displeased at having to wait several hours for the spontaneous feast that Abraham had Sarah prepare for them. A few contemplative minutes spent in a pleasant environment seldom did anyone any harm. Unfortunately, those charged with the design and operation of airports, having done all they can in terms of conception and organisation to maximise waiting time, then put their not inconsiderable creativity to work making that time as free of pleasant or calming stimuli as possible. For those among us who do not gladly spend their time contemplating overpriced ugliness in the many retail opportunities with which the airport authority improves its revenue flow, and who are not blessed with the particular combination of spinal and pelvic abnormalities that the designer of the insufficiently numerous chairs by the departures gate had in mind, a stay at an airport can never be too short.
How grateful I am, therefore, for any small ray of light that may shine into the gloom that is my passage through an airport. And so did I recently feel moved to thank such gods as may have made it through security for introducing this jaded traveller to the Travel Pussy.
The Wonders of Human Creativity
It was a toilet like any other toilet, although bigger and shinier than some, in the middle of the trackless waste that is Terminal 2 at Munich Airport. Terminal 2 is easier to find these days than it was when built: all you have to do is follow the sign pointing to Terminal 2 from the station downstairs. (Originally there were two signs, each claiming to point to both terminals 1 and 2, and pointing in opposite directions.) Once you have found it, you are faced with a choice of many locations provided to serve any lavatorial needs you may feel, the closest never more than 100 metres from your current location, all of which are equipped not only with the usual plumbing and fragile sensor-operated towel dispensers, but also with small white machines which will respond to the placing of four Euros in the appropriate slot by dispensing latex goods suitable for reducing the risk of contraction of infectious diseases and child maintenance obligations in the case of pleasurably intimate contact with the beautiful and friendly inhabitants of your final destination. Even if the Pope is Bavarian. Given that Consumer Choice is of the essence in the vibrant Market Economy that sustains our airports, these machines offer not one but several models, in varying colours, flavours, and denier ratings. The models available are identified by sample packaging in small windows above the levers to be pulled to release each one, and it was one of these that caught my eye as I passed: "Travel Pussy," it promised, "The Artificial Vagina."
In the world of marketing and PR, a short piece of text encouraging a potential consumer to find out more about a product is referred to as a 'claim,' at least in German. As claims went, the name of this product was a good one: it made a direct link between the situation in which the potential customer found himself (few non-travellers use the toilets in airports) and something of great desirability likely to be in short supply in the immediate future of many travellers. But the magnitude of the promise seemed to me to sit uneasily with the size of the box: how could it be possible to deliver so much in a package just big enough to hold three condoms?
When suitably queried, the World Wide Web reveals that the term 'travel pussy' is in use in some jurisdictions to refer to various cumbersome pieces of equipment that could be most briefly described as the male-use counterparts of dildos and vibrators. Few of us would feel relaxed about taking them through a security check, and none of them would come anywhere near to fitting into a little box that would fit into a condom machine. But further research reveals the solution to the mystery: water. Just as real human bits are mainly water, so the Travel Pussy when in operation is filled with water, and expands to a multiple of its folded and packaged size.
Imagine a flat plastic bag. Now imagine another one. Now imagine sticking them together on nearly the whole of one side, leaving a roughly penis-shaped gap in the middle of the sides free and unstuck, with its opening facing away from the open ends of the bags. Now fill the plastic bags with warm water and put lubricant in the gap. Knot the open ends of the plastic bags shut. To a first approximation, this is the Travel Pussy. Of course, since this is a successful commercial product, it is much more sophisticated and convenient than that. The seams are thermally welded, not glued. It is not made of just any old plastic, but one chosen for the appropriate combination of softness and strength. The most interesting part, in my opinion, is the closure: after filling the Travel Pussy with water, you do not have to tie a knot or put in a plug to stop the water pouring out: a clever valve, made entirely of flat bits of floppy plastic, keeps your companion's precious bodily fluid safe inside. For this reason, when you wish to dispose of your Travel Pussy, you cannot just empty it, you have to destroy it. Freud would no doubt have something to say about that.
Sources and further reading/viewing
Travel Pussy website
Discrete picture demonstrating principle of use
Wikipedia has a picture of a resting Travel Pussy
There used to be a video on YouTube demonstrating the filling, automatic sealing and destruction of a Travel Pussy. It is gone, and no-one will believe me.