Monday, February 15, 2010

When nature calls, bring a friend

I pretty much have a love/hate relationship when it comes to public restrooms. Over the years I have been through a roller coaster of emotions that all pretty much lead to one thing: I don’t think I will ever be able to go to the bathroom alone ever again.
Ever.
It really all started when I was quite young at our neighborhood Big Wheel. I will never forget telling my mom that I had to use the restroom and after going, the stall door became stuck such that I thought I would be locked in that bathroom for the rest of my life, or at least until I turned five. My mother jiggled from the outside handle. I jiggled from the inside handle. We pushed, we pulled, and when it was all said and done, my mother said the most haunting words.
“You’re just going to have to crawl out on the floor under the door.”
Well. Having spent my entire life until that point being schooled in the way of germs and don’t-touch-that’s, I was pretty sure I would pick up some awful deforming disease from the floor of that bathroom.
Turns out there was no disease, just a burning memory.
But then I got a little older and entered the years of the grown-up world, where I would find myself in a situation at a table with a group of people. And we all know that when another woman says she needs to use the restroom, you just go along with her. We don’t know why we do it, it’s practically an instinct. It’s not as if we are incapable of going to the bathroom alone, we are just better at it in pairs or small groups.
If there’s no toilet paper in stall one, or if the sinks or wet or the towels are scratchy, we’ve just got to tell somebody. And the friend is there. Men, did you know that in some women’s bathrooms there are actually little couches? A couch, as in a seating arrangement for more than one. You won’t find a single chair in a nice ladies’ restroom. No way. If that tagalong friend doesn’t really have to go, she (or they, depending) needs a place to sit while a conversation of utmost importance is happening. Because yes, we talk the entire time we’re in the bathroom. Instinct. Can’t help it. It’s actually fun.
Nowadays I don’t find myself with the luxury of fancy bathrooms with couches. Mostly I’m dragging around my children through a store or family restaurants when one of them announces that the bathroom must be our next stop.
Anyone with small children know that when someone says “potty” you hit light speed overtaking old ladies and Girl Scout troops on your way there. And once you’re inside, the following things happen:
1. You inform everyone to not touch anything, and I mean anything.
2. Someone inevitably asks what the little trash cans are for.
3. There is no soap.
4. You remind everyone to not touch anything.
5. You accidentally spill your entire purse on the floor while looking for a bottle of hand sanitzer you have with 3 drops left in it.
6. And don’t touch the door on the way out.
All of this naturally takes a lot of talking, a lot of noise. After nearly 9 years of restrooming it this way, it’s for this very noisy reason I have come to the conclusion that am not humanly capable of going to the bathroom alone because I will a) get stuck in a stall, b) lose self-esteem from being lonely, or most likely c) talk to myself incessantly about the towels and the broken doors and make the other patrons inch away and wash their hands twice.
Even if there is no soap.

2 comments:

AmyLK said...

I love bathroom breaks with the girls! You just have to have back up in there! Never know who/what you are going to meet in there!

And totally agree with the lightspeed when the child annouces "potty"!

Koala Bear Writer said...

I love the restrooms at fancy restaurants and hotels. They feel so relaxing, comfortable, clean... everything a washroom should be. Now that I'm a mom, I appreciate those washrooms with change tables and decry those without. And thankfully I have a two-year-old who likes washing her hands and does so happily after a trip to the washroom... :)

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