Thursday, April 30, 2015
I’m having one of those weeks, so you, you lucky reader you, are getting one of those blogs. Today I’m going to share with you my favorite bathroom stories. Yes, that means exactly what you think it does. If this topic isn’t to your liking, we have a whole bunch of other posts you can scroll to or click onto. I won’t be offended. There won’t be any pictures, either. I’ll try to keep this as clean as the subject allows.
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Actually, a picture does exist. Years ago my mother took one of those cheap mass-produced Sears paintings and made a collage of family snapshots. Of course she included the one of five-year-old me sitting on the hopper reading a comic book. Every parent has at least one of those, which they trot out when you ask your boss to dinner or bring home a potential spouse. Mine hung it on the wall for everyone to see. The scary thing is, fifty-odd years later nothing’s changed. I still read anywhere I come to rest for more than a minute or two. Talk about your multitasking.
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And now, the tales of not-so-quiet desperation.
I was headed out somewhere, not even five minutes away from the house, when that sense of urgency hit. Rather than turn around, I stopped at a local grocery store. I make it a point to know where every public restroom is in any given area, because you never know when that knowledge will come in handy. Like right now. This place only has one room, so I was taking a chance here. My body let me know a long wait wasn’t an option.
I park the car and rush into the store and head for the back of the building. As I enter the frozen food section I notice some guy just ahead of me. He’s not walking fast but he’s moving with a purpose. All of a sudden I know, I just know, where he’s headed. I pick up the pace but I can’t catch up.
I’m right. He’s headed for the store’s single rest room, and he’s going to get there first.
Which he does. Except somebody’s already in there.
Now my bladder and I are stuck with two people ahead of me. What the hell? I thought men didn’t go to the bathroom.
This one didn’t. After an agonizing several-minute wait the guy ahead of me gave up and left. One down. The bathroom’s occupant came out shortly afterward. Another guy. I must have picked that one hour in the day when all men relieve themselves. I got in before I embarrassed myself.
While I was taking care of business, somebody outside tried the door. That morning cup of coffee, it’ll mess you up.
Let’s review: that’s four people all wanting to use a single-room facility in the same ten-minute period. I’ll bet nobody else went near the place for the next three hours. Timing is everything.
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I had a similar incident in a mall once. This was out of town, so I wasn’t familiar with any and all locations. The public restrooms were right ahead of me, though, so I headed for them with time to spare. Almost. Just as I got close two little girls darted into the ladies’ room ahead of me. Once again it was a single offering. Naturally. And we’re talking two little girls here. You know they’re never coming out.
Right next door was the men’s room, just sitting there. Men never go to the bathroom. I waited. Looked around. No one’s in sight. I wait some more. Still no indication the girls are anywhere close to finished. Still no sign of male presence. What the hell. I went into the men’s room.
I didn’t even get my pants down before a guy opened the door that I thought I’d locked. I was forced to vacate, and not in the way I’d planned. Lucky for me the ladies’ room opened up shortly afterward. I hate these single-room facilities. Sooner or later my luck’s going to run out.
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It almost did during that three-hour drive to New Jersey. When I go to the shore I stick to the back roads to dodge all those tolls on the turnpike. That means no rest stops. There was one gas-and-snack place along my route, and I really needed it. So did the woman who was already in there. “It’s occupied,” she said when I rattled the knob, then added, “I’m going to be in here awhile.” Terrific. The only public potty within miles, and she’s not giving it up. Somehow I made it to Rio Grande, where they have a KMart. I’m not sure if my bladder’s ever forgiven me.
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These days, in a case like the above, I’m more likely to say screw it and just go out behind the building. Crouch by the dumpster or something. Why not? Men do it. Men are like cats. The whole world is their sandbox. Given their plumbing, it’s easier for them to hide what they’re up to. Spoiler alert: women are built differently. We have to make ourselves completely invisible, and that’s not always possible even under the best of circumstances.
Case in point: I was on a family trip with the folks in the wilds of central PA. We were headed back to the campground from some tourist trap. I wanted to go before we hit the road, but the facilities had no doors on the stalls, and there was a crowd in attendance. I don’t do public performances, so we left.
When it became obvious I wasn’t going to last the trip, I had Dad pull over next to a wide, empty field. Plenty of room. Tall grass. One road with nobody in sight for miles. You already know where this is going, don’t you?
Yeah. I removed myself a healthy distance from the car and assumed the position. Just as I get underway, a school bus packed with kids cruises by on the formerly-deserted road. Did I offend some god or something? On the bright side, the students had a highlight for their “What I did during my summer vacation” essays.
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Still with me? Good for you. This is the cleanest of a lifetime collection of similar desperate stories. I’m looking forward to old age and senility, when you’re allowed to let loose whenever you want and no one can say anything. It’s like being a guy, but without the drunk part. All hail equality!