A brutally honest and exceptionally helpful review of the Kohler 4734 “Rutledge” elongated toilet seat with Grip-Tight™ bumpers, Quiet-Close™ release hinges, and Quick-Attach™ hardware (white)
When I first decided that I needed a new toilet seat, my search focused on only a few essentials:
- The toilet seat must not slam. The world solved this problem decades ago, and there are regressions for which I will not stand.
- The toilet seat must not wiggle, shift, scoot. Modern fastening technologies give me confidence that under no circumstances am I personally in physical danger from the shifting of a toilet seat, but I do believe that absence of any instance of what one may call “terror” during a toilet session is a basic human right.
- The toilet seat — and mind, this one is new to me—must not squeak. My most recent toilet seat developed an annoying tendency to announce its objections that came in conflict with my admittedly tightly-wound sense of shame and its associated requirement that I always be seen as someone who simply does not need to use a toilet, and never has. Because I don’t, and I haven’t.
- Being a family man of reasonable means, I generally look at necessity of replacement as opportunity for upgrade. And while I do not often sit on a closed toilet, when I do I would like to relax with some faith that its lid will not snap in half under me. Being overly concerned about sturdy material and construction quality in this day and age is an expensive and exhausting fool’s game, but I decided that this was a stretch goal I would throw a few extra dollars toward, should the opportunity present itself. This is, after all, an area where I claim a stake in some level of hardiness (see points 1, 2, and 3 above).
In short, like most things I shop for, I have a few actual requirements, but more to the point: I want the good one. Not the gilded one. Not the exquisitely tuned hot rod that will make other toilet seat owners jealous, or my wife roll her eyes. But also, not the one that I will need to replace next year, or the one that rattles with cheapness while it’s still in the package. Not the one that already seems discolored, but somehow not if you look right at it. Not the one that declares, as though the very idea is not horrifying, “I have a need for, and use, toilets”. I do not.
And so I set out on my way. Now, if you haven’t done this in a while, or ever, let me be the first to assure you that it is not by any stretch simple or straightforward. As with any shopping these days, one can find oneself twenty layers deep in toilet seat search facets before realizing not a single one of those checkboxes was labeled “the kind I’m looking for”, and accordingly they have all been entirely unhelpful. All products are mis-categorized, or employ some ungrounded notion of how English words are defined, presumably not used in any portable sense by anyone since the ancient toilet druids ceded influence. Manufacturers themselves often have a surprisingly weak idea of what they even make, let alone what is still, or ever was or will be, actually available to the public. You think you’re going to just type out your desired features, tack on “high quality” at the end, and Bing will understand that you want the good one? You are an idiot. Bing scoffs at you.
Nevertheless. Imagine this. You wake up one lazy Saturday, and you go about your morning routine, part of which is using your foot to give the seat of the toilet you don’t use but consider yourself responsible for a good jiggle to make sure it’s holding up. Today, something is different. The squeak has worsened. A little too much slack, maybe. Too much “play”, as your father would call it. Could be those attachment bolts that are made out of something closer to paraffin than plastic have started to rot through. Maybe the rubbery anti-skid bumpers beneath the seat have become hard and slick with age. Perhaps someone has been moving it with their foot—kids will do that sort of thing. In any case, a line of sorts has been crossed, and you decide it’s time.
Jump to three hours later, you’re still in bed and staring at your phone. The various ways of identifying the thing you are looking for, and maybe more importantly the ways of avoiding or filtering away the things you are not looking for, have all lost their meaning. You are tired, and just wish the work week would start again so you could get some real rest.
That is the moment when your fourth, identical attempt at a search for “elongated toilet seat sturdy high quality NOT ‘mallard metal flake’ NOT ‘transitional potty’ NOT ‘horsehair tassels’ NOT padlock” again fails to surface anything of use but does trigger a nearly-missed corner advertisement for Throne Barn. You click through to that because obviously one must. Smack in the middle of Throne Barn’s front page is the Kohler 4734 “Rutledge” elongated toilet seat with Grip-Tight™ bumpers, Quiet-Close™ release hinges, and Quick-Attach™ hardware (white). It looks promising, but you’ve been saying that for hours. Still, you are nothing if not a toilet seat shopping optimist. You click through again to find it is out of stock, and, cursing the name of Duggar Duggins, proprietor of Throne Barn and proclaimer that there “Aint No Nother Way To Treat Your Butt Brother”, you finally rise from the only embrace that will still have you and move to the bathroom to do the only thing you ever really do there, which is shower. As you try in vain to cleanse yourself of anguish, the rancid stench of wasted potential, and the lingering, borderline noxious sloganeering of Duggar Duggins, you think a lot about the importance of punctuation. Some time later, you make a mental note to buy a higher-performing, larger-capacity water heater. An upgrade.
The Kohler 4734 “Rutledge” elongated toilet seat with Grip-Tight™ bumpers, Quiet-Close™ release hinges, and Quick-Attach™ hardware (white) sticks with you. It seemed like the right fit, or at least it had a decent shot. This could be the toilet seat that would serve the needs of you and your family, and do it well, without defining you as a person. You are pleased with yourself for putting your hopes in those pragmatic, direct words. That felt right, and not at all insane, and you wished someone was there to hear it when you just went ahead and said it out loud. Unfortunately, your family has left you. Not for someone else, or for a new life where they will not be judged for what they do in the bathroom as if such a life exists, but for a “break from whatever all this is”. Toilet seat shopper, if you are wondering now whether those words were delivered with a rather obnoxious gesturing of hands and very obviously condescending and intentionally, indefensibly hurtful tone: yes, thank you, they were. Never mind—they do not deserve you. You try very hard. You know that. We both know that.
Your instinct is to jump right back online and start searching for this thing by model number, now that you have it. Most of the rest of you is rather insistent that you not trust your instinct, and so you spend most of the remainder of Saturday spilling soup. On the floor, on yourself, on the cat. Just, like, barely even noticing. Worse, you aren’t really eating the soup. The TV is on, but you are not watching it so much as just kind of looking at it. Admiring it.
Without warning, it’s Sunday.
You Bing the address of Duggar Duggins. You don’t find it. The best you manage is the name of his high school. You pack up a box of dirty cat litter for them.
Early afternoon on Monday, you wake up in a pool of sweat, having missed your alarm by six hours. You stare at the ceiling for a minute or two, then launch from bed and sprint down the street in an attempt to catch the USPS lady, who stops stupidly shouting about how it’s so hot today into the cellphone she is stupidly holding like a stupid slice of pizza, long enough to tell you that for either of you to go into her shitty little truck to retrieve and return the package she just picked up from your house would be illegal. You think she’s probably lying. You say so. You kind of bark it, really. Still staring through your eyes and into the back of your skull, she mutters “yeah… I’m still here” into her pizza. You realize you still have to see this person almost every day.
You go back home, where you find you have locked yourself out. After a few minutes of watching you walk around the outside of his house in an open bathrobe, attempting to open each of his windows, your next-door neighbor asks you to leave. He is polite about it, says please, but uses the wrong name, as he has for fifteen years because you never tried to correct him and now doing so would be exceedingly awkward. Still, as the kind of person who believes in self improvement, and who upgrades rather than simply replaces toilet seats, you decide now is the time to finally put that issue to rest. Your neighbor takes some time to process the new information and eventually thanks you, but not before engaging you in what you quickly clock as a neighborly staring contest, which he loses, badly. Still got it! You feel better, and imagine ol’ what’s-his-name probably does too.
Back in your own home, you phone your boss. It goes to voicemail. You let her know you missed work because you were hit by a garbage truck while jogging on the freeway and you’ll be fine but the doctors prescribe bedrest for, like, a week? Hanging up, you realize you panicked a little there and should probably call again to clarify, but you aren’t sure what you would say. Never been a great liar. You make a mental note to better prepare when making phone calls. A little later, you consider shaving. You do not.
Tuesday, you try calling your wife. She doesn’t pick up.
Thursday night, as you consume a misguided—unguided, really—mix of canned foods, you ponder what actually using a toilet is like and remind yourself how fortunate you are that no such disgrace is part of your life.
Is it possible you are special somehow? Blessed? Chosen?
At this point, the toilet is more or less mocking you. The seat squeaks when you aren’t even in there using it (as a chair). You consider that perhaps just removing the toilet seat could give you the jump start you need to continue on the journey finding a rep—no. No. Upgrade. Yes, this is what we will do, you tell yourself. We will remove it and see what happens.
It’s a new Saturday, full of promise. You rise with a plan and waste no time getting to it, and one hour and two hacksaw blades later the toilet seat is no longer attached. Bleeding from one ear but invigorated by your baby-step success, you step out to the back yard with your prize and hurl the newly-removed toilet seat, discus-style, over the fence and into Captain Jackass’s yard. That’s what you call him now. Hah! It’s a funny name. Makes you laugh. The seat makes a thud that you don’t find as satisfying as you had hoped, but the important thing is that it’s gone. You belt out a healthy yawp.
Bolstered by a hopeful sense of progress, you fire up your computer and lean in to settle this toilet seat shopping thing once and for all. You notice that you have a new email. It’s from your brother-in-law, who appears to be droning on about something having to do with your wife and an “unsettling” voicemail about a garbage truck and “we just want to make sure you’re alright” and “please answer your phone” and blah, blah, blah. You don’t have time for this right now, he’s crazy and a jerk and always has been. You are on a mission.
You Bing “Kohler 4734”, hoping it will really be that simple. And damned if it isn’t—this thing is literally everywhere. How it escaped your efforts the first time around is baffling, confounding. You make a conscious choice to not be enraged by this fact, as frustrating as it is, because what would the point of that be? We’re reasonable and we don’t whip into fits of fury when something just incredibly dumb and, frankly, likely indicative of a menacing, presumably universal conspiracy to ruin us doesn’t go our way. That’s not us. No, when we are still haunted by the squeaking of a long gone toilet seat while we attempt to find a repl—upgrade, god damn you—when something like that bothers us, we simply don headphones. Literally as well as figuratively, we’re the headphone donners. That’s what we’re about, you and me.
You make a mental note to consider shopping for some headphones when this is all over. The good ones.
The feature set of the Kohler 4734 is sound. It has the essentials you’re looking for in a toilet seat, although you can’t help but pause and consider that you once pretty much believed the same about the toilet seat that you only this morning managed to make someone else’s problem. We don’t want to do that again. We learn from our mistakes. We don’t put our faith in what those who wish to part us with our money want us to think. We read reviews.
You begin to question the sense of that as you scroll through one useless review after another. Five stars: “does the job”. One star: “arrived late”. Three stars: “I would give this four stars except I wish I ordered a different color”, later updated to two stars with no explanation. You promise yourself that when this is over you will return to write a proper, helpful review. You don’t want your own laziness to be what allows the propagation of misery. You want to help people. We want to help people. That’s what we’re about.
Finally, a review with some substance catches your eye. Intrepid reviewer “Lorna K” includes in her review what seems like some pretty useful detail about the stability and heft of the Kohler, even going so far as to say it’s great for sitting on—like a chair. Is Lorna K also one of the chosen? You imagine what Lorna K is like. She is definitely smart, and she does not need or want to use toilets, and she is probably extremely attractive. She would find you handsome and funny. Reading on, however, you find that Lorna K has also called the toilet seat an “excellent conversation piece”. Exclamation mark. You freeze. Lorna K does not explain. Does she mean to tell us that she has actually had conversations about her toilet seat? Does she want conversations about her toilet seat to take place? Did she seek out the Kohler 4734 because she believed it would inspire those conversations? This is of deep concern—while she seems to like the Kohler, you can’t help but wonder if Lorna K’s perspective on the purpose of a toilet seat is wildly different from your own. You do not want to talk about your toilet seat. You would in fact prefer that its existence never be acknowledged, such that the notion there is even a toilet in your house is not a given among you, your family, your visitors. We do not talk about toilet seats. We are not talk-about-toilet-seats people. Other people may talk about toilet seats, but that is because they do not care about anything.
And so, a conundrum. Lorna K wrote a thorough review, and it was quite positive. If not for this wrinkle calling into question her motives in owning a toilet seat, the Kohler 4734 would be a no-brainer. You think to yourself: I am a person who believes in becoming the best version of me, always, and sometimes that means taking chances. If this toilet seat which by most accounts seems it will serve the needs of me and my family and do it well without defining me as a person turns out to in fact be an excellent conversation piece, then I must be willing to accept and prepare for that risk. Should someone attempt to engage me in unwelcome conversation about my toilet seat, I will not lose my mind in panic. That’s not me. I will politely inform them that I do not know what they are referring to. I don’t really use that room except to shower, or sit on the chair, I will say. They will drop the subject. They will drop it. We will make them drop it.
It’s settled. You “Buy It Now” because you don’t want to introduce wide-open opportunity to second guess yourself. This is the right thing to do, and you’re doing it. Even better news: because you chose upgrade over replacement, you spent enough to qualify for free two-day shipping. Huzzah and kudos! Fortune favors the bold, indeed. Beaming in your brave accomplishment, you sit back and take a moment to breathe. You watch a couple of videos about cats who are afraid of vegetables. You check in on your social media games of Battleship, all of which you are losing because you do not, like some people, have all day to strategize. You browse the daily news. With dismay, you learn that the toilet seat squeak has been nominated for a Grammy™. It is disappointing, in the way that one feels a bit let down by the universe when they discover their school bully has gone on to become a successful entrepreneur. But never mind. This day is yours and you believe—you know—evil never dies happy. You eagerly await Tuesday.
On Wednesday, you are cool as a cucumber, because you were not awake the entire night with boiling anger burning through your core the way some people who do not have control of their emotions might when confronted with having waited until midnight for the non-arrival of a purchased item that was expected on Tuesday. That’s not you. That’s not us. Even so, you make a mental note to mention the delay in your review. You notice, in what feels like renewed self-awareness, that you really do enjoy making mental notes.
You decide to spend the morning on the porch enjoying two of your favorite pastimes: not feeling tremendous, debilitating anxiety, and not cooking from the inside with a fury forged in the fires of creation itself. Sometime around, say, precisely 12:47 PM, the pizza phone USPS lady arrives on your block, screaming at whatever poor fool is on the other end of the line at such a volume you can make out the words through the door of her shitty truck, about a bad customer service experience at Home Depot. She parks directly in front of your home and, beginning with Captain Jackass and making eye contact with you numerous times throughout the journey, visits every house up and down both sides of the street before finally arriving back at her truck. She opens the door and retrieves a conspicuously toilet seat-sized box. As she makes her way up your walk with that snotty waddle that definitely does not make you seethe, she examines the package. You approach her to accept the delivery just as she screeches to her pizza communication device friend that this guy she delivers mail to just got the same exact toilet seat. Her stupid, open-mouthed expression of delighted incredulity as she hands you the package makes you feel warm and happy, because that is what a normal, non-rage-having person feels in a situation like this. She bellows a supervillainesque laugh, claps you on the shoulder, tells you to enjoy that toilet seat, hon, and pivots away.
You do not silently flip all the way out and suffer what some later Binging of symptoms reveals may have been a mild aneurysm. That’s not us.
Back inside, you consider that it might be wise to take a nap before starting in on your toilet seat installation, just to let some of the raw, unfiltered, let’s call it joy that is rattling through your every cell subside just a bit. That’s not to be now though, because not a minute passes before your doorbell rings, triggering a fresh adrenaline spike that amplifies all of your feelings, thus making you happier than you have ever been in your entire life.
Still holding the package, you return to the door and open it to the familiar and friendly face of your neighbor from across the street, Martha or something. She looks unhappy and, as it turns out, comes bearing grave news. It’s Jonas, she tells you. He’s dead. She’s terribly sorry—she knew the two of you were friends. You are taken aback. Flabbergasted, devastated. Also a little confused, owing to the relative certainty you’ve never known or even met a Jonas, ever.
Who? you ask. It comes out a little mealy, maybe because of the aneurysm you did not have. She says his name again, louder, and nods her head to the left. Her left. You realize she is referring to Captain Jackass. You are taken aback. Flabbergasted, devastated. He seemed so young, so vital, you say, not really remembering what he looked like nor possessing an especially strong concept of his age. She nods, sighs, and goes on to reveal that he was found in his back yard, dead from blunt head trauma. The only clue was a toilet seat found next to him.
Investigators are perplexed.
A lot happens in your mind just now. You have questions. Questions about fingerprints. About calculable trajectories. Questions about whether there was a version of the Kohler with metal hardware that you didn’t think to look for which could have extended the life of your new toilet seat by, what—five, ten years? Even if you were to suddenly double the number of very long and very hot showers you take and in turn the frequency with which you might require a bathroom chair? Questions about why it didn’t occur to you to see if the cheap plastic hinges were responsible for the squeaking, you moron. Questions about Lorna K’s full surname and whether it is possible that not only your toilet seat purchase but your entire vision of permanently leaving your ungrateful family for a future with a hyper-intelligent and gorgeous woman who understands and sees the best in you and finds you, just, wickedly attractive and hilarious has been compromised—planted—by a corporate empire family stooge. You hate Lorna K in this moment and vow to supplant her review with a brutally honest one that absolutely thrashes, obliterates her “people found this helpful” count.
Kohler. Is that German?
You consider inquiring as to the make and model of the toilet seat. A toilet seat murderer would never ask that—they would probably already know the make and model. On the other hand, you worry that a smart detective would be looking for a toilet seat murderer to ask that question as a ploy to throw them off the trail. You have been drafted into a deadly game of chess. Maybe even 3D chess. Or an even more intense game called something cool but scary, like “Outwit or DIE!” It would have one of those plastic bubble dice rollers.
Instead of making that inquiry, you loudly and abruptly announce that your toilet still has a seat, so. You recognize the clumsiness of what you’ve said, how you’ve said it, but feel the “so” was such a nice touch—you appreciate the way it sort of hangs in the air, the wispy suggestion of a second sentence the completion of which would constitute the step too far that tips your toilet-seat-having status over from casual alibi into desperate defense. That is important right now because you are acutely, sweatily aware that your toilet in fact does not currently have a seat, and at a surprise diarrhea level of awareness that you do currently have a brand new toilet seat, sealed in a box featuring multiple illustrations of toilet seats, tucked under your arm. You know this about yourself at this moment because you are sweaty, and are having surprise diarrhea.
Mabel or whatever crinkles her forehead.
It is unclear whether she is reacting to what has rather noisily just taken place inside and eventually outside of your body, or if she is slowly becoming conscious of the gravity of how her behavior in the coming moments may influence her own fate.
A few hours pass while you wait for Melba, maybe, definitely Mabel or Melba, to process what is happening in front of her. You smile, broadly, because nothing could be more innocent than a broad smile. Fifty thousand years later and a few steps farther away from you, she stammers out that Jonas’s family has elected not to hold a funeral, but she will be hosting a small gathering for the neighborhood at her house next Saturday. Awesome, you say, sounds like fun. You tell her you are super excited to celebrate Jonah’s death. You cannot wait. Your smile feels like it is probably radiant.
Meblabal takes her leave and crosses the street to home. You think she may have started crying. Crediting your laser-focused insistence on eye contact, you are reasonably sure she did not notice anything you did not want her to notice, except probably, pretty likely, the diarrhea.
By this point, you are very tired and in need of a thorough cleanup, so you hire from the internet a single-serving handyman, Luis, to do the seat installation. As you exit the shower he is unfortunately still working, and so you do not get an immediate opportunity to try out your new chair, but a quick inspection over his shoulder through the thick steam reveals that he appears to know what he is doing. He also does not seem to speak a lick of English, which in this particular case is kind of nice because you really just aren’t in the mood for small talk, or pointless, dumb questions about things like blood or hacksaw damage.
When the job is complete the handyman takes your money, nods, and exits. Following him to the door, you notice a police car parked at the curb and, quickly but casually so as not to raise alarm, follow Luis uncomfortably close behind as he makes his way to his truck. You chit-chat at him, loudly so anyone in earshot is sure to hear how remarkably casual you are. A policewoman posted at the front door of the Jackass home takes notice. She is holding a bagged and labeled toilet seat. You smile and nod at her. So does Luis. Grasping the handle of the door of his pickup, he turns slightly and checks you out of the corner of his eye. His breaths are quick, erratic. A lone bead of sweat trickles down his cheek. You grab his elbow—firmly, but only firmly—and whisper a tight, growling BE. SMART. into the back of his head. He straightens. Pops the handle. Climbs in.
So. Seems ol’ Luis here understands a word or two after all.
He drives away, leaving a little too much rubber on the pavement for your comfort. Smiling again, you lock eyes with the policewoman, shrug with a cheery “Men!” and turn back toward your door, shaking your head and chuckling the chuckle of a very casual man who is definitely not absolutely one thousand percent on the edge of doing literally anything to get out alive. You hop up your steps, also very casually, not thinking even a little bit about how committed you are to the idea that while they may outnumber you, overwhelm you, take you down, as God is your witness one of them will lose their whole entire face in the process because you, the kind of person who looks at necessity of replacement as opportunity for upgrade and has complete control over their emotions, will have nothing left to lose. You don’t need to think about that, because that’s not you. That’s not us. That’s not what we, the donners of life’s metaphorical headphones, are about.
Wearing your broadest and most radiant smile, you give a quick wave to the policewoman and slip inside to break in your new bathroom chair. Maybe start some laundry and get that nap. This evening, having experienced a nice long sit while you browse headphone shopping websites or stare blankly through a magazine, maybe you’ll write that honest and helpful review.
So, while the Kohler 4734 “Rutledge” elongated toilet seat with Grip-Tight™ bumpers, Quiet-Close™ release hinges, and Quick-Attach™ hardware (white) doesn’t try to be a toilet seat that people will want to have unwelcome conversations about with you, the bottom line is that it does the job. It is a reasonably priced mid-level seat if you are the type who likes to spend a little extra just to not have to buy a thing again any time soon. It has just the right bells and whistles. It’s comfortable, stays put, and you can count on it to support a little weight when you feel like sitting in a chair after your shower or something. Looked like it was probably pretty easy to install. The color and fit is a perfect match for my Kohler Santa Rosa Comfort Height™ 1-piece 1.28 GPF compact elongated bathroom chair with AquaPiston™ (white). I would go the full five stars, but knocking it down to four because it arrived a day late. Also I hurt my finger opening the box (see my honest and helpful review of Vishal Pandhare, Senior Design Engineer on LinkedIn).