American reader, imagine that you are sitting in a restaurant in the UK with British friends all around you. Drinks have been flowing all night and bladders are starting to fill. Your British friend then turns to you and says, “Excuse me. I need the toilet,’ or maybe, ‘I’m off to the toilet.” Americans find this very odd. I remember it sounding like someone was heading to some solitary toilet plopped somewhere in the middle of Hyde Park. I imagined they’d be sitting there reading the Sunday Telegraph and waving to passersby. It may sound a bit crude to American ears, but American friends, Brits like calling things exactly what they are. The toilet is what they are using. Toilet is what they call it.
This is why they find it weird that Americans, no matter what the standard of facility, will say ‘I’m going to the bathroom.’ There might be a bath in there, but there might not. There might be a well-marbled room with enough heavenly scents to send your old olfactories into overdrive, BUT it could be a stop at a dodgy looking gas station with graffiti on the wall telling you who to call for a good time and pellets on the dirt floor that suggest rodent infestation. They’ll still call it the bathroom, even when their sole intention is to use the toilet, even when they’ve just walked into the woods to do their business into a hole in the ground. Off to the bathroom we go….