Tuesday, September 23, 2014

On potties

I have a new bathroom at work, one that is closer to my new office. The old bathroom was literally right outside my door. The new one is about 15 steps away, so you know, I have had to adjust.

The women's restrooms here are one-seaters, but the outer doors do not lock and there is a stall within the bathroom. Because of this, the unwritten rule is that if you start to open the outer door and see that the light is on, that means the bathroom is occupied and you must find another. Don't even walk in. Since it's a one-seater, any sounds or odors emanating from the stall are unable to be blamed on others, so be polite and just scram. Once, a colleague found herself in complete darkness in the stall after someone opened the door, saw the light on, huffed in impatience, and turned the light off. We all have a suspicion who it was, and we think (hope) it was unconscious on her part, but it's still a running joke among the female staff.

I have an issue with the new bathroom. Besides the distance, that is. The toilet seat is perpetually loose. When you walk into the stall it's usually already caddywampus on the toilet, forcing you to use your toe to nudge it back into place. I don't know why I bother because as soon as I sit down I skid uncertainly to one side and feel as though I'm about ready to fall into the toilet. This is an unsettling feeling, to be sure. It has made me very conscious of ensuring I carefully sit straight down on the toilet.

After a few days of this, someone mentioned that the toilet seat is quite dangerous and that maintenance had been notified again to please fix it. Because the maintenance men are, well, men, they never really fix it. They tighten the bolts and that works for about a day and then we all start our sideways slides again. General consensus is that they just need to replace the whole damn seat.

I suppose I could just hover. At 41, though, I'm finding the hover technique to be more and more difficult. And with serious repercussions if done too much. Besides, if the seat is crooked during the hover then there's a much higher chance of hitting the seat and not the bowl and that's just disgusting for everyone.

So as I was contemplating all this during a pit stop, I reflected on toilets in general. (It was a slow day.) One grandmother calls them terlets. Another always said The Pot. My father-in-law calls it The John and my husband calls it The Little Boy's Room and my Daddy referred to it as The Throne and my daughter says it's the Potty. In college, we worshipped The Porcelain God more than once. I have a British friend who says it's The Loo and she likes to take selfies in them. She finds some very interesting loos. (To clarify, she does not take pictures in the stall. And she's always fully clothed.) (Nevermind. Loo selfies just sound worse than they actually are.) When the Olsen family on Little House on the Prairie got an indoor toilet, it was the Water Closet, or WC. When Cousin Eddie cleaned out his RV in Christmas Vacation, it was because The Shitter was full.

When I was in Ireland with my dad, after driving miles and miles while having to piss like a racehorse, we finally stopped at a petrol station. (To be fair, I didn't blame him for not wanting to stop. He was driving on the right side of the car, on the left side of the road, and having to shift a manual transmission to boot. "Thank goodness the pedals and the H-pattern are the same," he said. Once we were going it was far easier to stay going.) I rushed in and asked the attendant if I could use the restroom. He eyed me suspiciously, like I had asked for all the pounds in his pocket. "We don't have a restroom." I almost peed on the floor right there. "Really? You don't have a restroom? I am desperate." I turned to leave and he called back, "Oh, wait Miss. Do you mean a toilet?" Crisis averted. And I learned that the Irish consider a restroom a room where you rest. Not where you pee.

Our daughter spends an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom. She'll go in and ten minutes later, there's still no sign of her. No flush, no running water in the sink. "Zo! Are you poopin'?" "No, Mommy!" After five more minutes the toilet flushes and the water runs and then she comes out smiling. I think she meditates in there. This can't be comfortable. Her legs don't even hit the floor yet. She gives no explanation. M continually asks me, "What does she do in there?" Beats me. I'm an in-and-out kind of girl.

Except when prepping for a colonoscopy. I've only had one, but it wasn't so bad. I drank about 27 gallons of Gatorade with human Drano in it and then kept pausing the DVD to run to the bathroom. All in all, it really wasn't a bad night, and quite typical of many other nights that didn't even involve a procedure the next day. (I have yet to meet a woman who doesn't have intestinal issues. You'd think the doctors would have figured this out by now.)

Once, when I was a kid, my dad and step-mom took me to the movies. In an attempt to avert the inevitable disruption halfway through, I was taken to the restroom before the movie started. Apparently I was learning to read and quite curious as to the writing on the inside of my stall. "Hey! What does F-U-…" "I'll tell you later!" I've also been told that it was my habit to visit the bathroom of every. single. place. we. visited. Maybe that's where Zoe gets it. I like quantity as in number of potties, whereas she prefers quantity in minutes-per-stop.

At Girl Scout camp, they now use ETs. When I was a kid it was the latrine, which was a smelly wooden building with bench seats and round holes. Now they are Environmental Toilets, which are positively luxurious compared to the old latrines. These kids don't know how cush they have it. No hazardous waste smells, no giant buzzing flying things, no butt splinters. The Girl Scout Flush is to close the lid and turn off the light.

In the spirt of potty contemplation today (potemplation?), I leave you with this: the Best Restrooms in America!

Eh, well. No matter. It all comes out in the end.

Sorry, I had to.


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