The night before last we went out with some friends to a BBQ and Blues place. We had decent food, good conversation, and enjoyed some great music. The only dilemma? I had to go the bathroom when we first arrived. And, I never went. Afterwards we moved the group to a pub, ordered coffee and dessert, and played Scrabble for an hour or so. Again, we had a great time. And yes, I still had to go to the bathroom. And again, I didn’t. So, here’s the thing… going into a public restroom as a woman is, how should I say it… a bit of an adventure. As Forrest Gump said, “You never know what you’re going to get”. And in this instance, that Forrest, he knew what he was talking about. There are so many issues awaiting a woman who decides to go into a public restroom. It’s exhausting really. So much so that sometimes it’s just easier not to go in. Holding it is less complicated… not as fraught with the possible dangers and decisions one might have to make.
Here’s what I mean… Right off the bat there’s the cleanliness factor. Some places keep their restrooms tidy, clean, and well looked after. Others? You walk in and feel as though something could crawl up your pant leg at any moment. They are, in a word, scary. Even still, sometimes, because we just can’t wait, we have to make the decision to proceed. To venture into the places we would never, under normal circumstances, walk into. It’s then that we are faced with all of the other things that can annoy, freak out, or cause alarm of one sort or another.
Ladies, you know what I mean. There are so many factors to consider. First, there’s the approach. It could be you, or maybe the woman in front of you in line. She approaches the stall and hesitantly pulls the door back to reveal what’s inside. Her expression says it all, helping to determine whether or not you, in your turn, will approach that same stall. If she looks and walks in, no problem. But, if she looks and closes the door, stepping back from the stall to look for another available stall you know it’s not good. Especially if she makes… the face. You all know the one. The classic… EW… I WON’T be going in there and neither should anyone else. It’s like she’s looking at the most nasty thing she could possibly imagine. Those stalls, you avoid. Then, if you can go in, there are the other things. Like… is there a seat cover and if not, can one hover, or maybe just sit. Is there actually paper available, or do you have to ask total strangers to pass you some under the side of the stall. Men wonder why women go in packs, now you know. It’s better to ask a friend or loved one to pass you some tissue or Kleenex than it is to ask that total stranger. There’s also the question of balance, because some stalls don’t have latches. So, there a girl is, balancing on one cheek, foot in the air pressed against the door hoping the seat cover doesn’t slip off with her on it… another reason for the pack mentality. If you go with friends, they can guard your door.
Then… there are the things we don’t want to talk about, but always notice. Like the women who pee so loud you wonder why they aren’t shooting off the toilet into mid air. You hear them and you wonder to yourself, am I a loud pee-er? Then you try to be quiet, as if you can. I admire the people who don’t seem to care. Women who go in, do their business, no matter how loud or boisterous it might be, and afterwards walk out confidently, as if to say, yeah, that was me, and I am damn proud of it. And the other big issue… the opening of the dreaded feminine hygiene product. You just know, as you peel away the loud wrapping that, any minute, a man will come over the loud speaker and announce, “woman in stall 3 opening feminine product, woman in stall 3.”
I guess there is the bright side to all of this. In many public restrooms, we don’t only get to tend to our bodily functions… we also get to read, thanks to the long line of people who preceded us in the stall. I always think, they obviously had time to kill and a handy pencil, pen, or other scratching item. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been privy to fine works of literature I’m sure I’d never have gotten a chance to read anywhere else.
Which brings me back, once again, to where I started. I guess I didn’t want the adventure of it all. I didn’t want to use the facilities at any of the places we ventured into that night. I held off. I waited for a place I didn’t have to peek into first. A place I knew would be clean. Where seat covers weren’t necessary and paper was plentiful. Because, when you get right down to the bottom of it, sometimes it’s just better to wait. It’s less complicated, and it’s definitely not as exhausting.