Saturday, April 21, 2007
I'm Going Public . . .
I hate those tissue seat covers. And the little message on the dispenser makes me want to scream - "Provided for your safety by the Management." God Damn it! If there's a safety issue, I want management in here with some ammonia and sandpaper. Don't leave behind a sheet of tissue .0000002 microns thick with your thoughtful message! Using them never works anyway. If they have the hole in the middle that you have to tear out, you end up destroying the whole thing anyway.
And I hate the noise they make when you touch them, dispense them or apply them. You might as well stand in your stall with a bullhorn and announce, “ATTENTION ALL PUBLIC RESTROOM USERS - LISTEN CAREFULLY! I’M ABOUT TO GO NUBMER TWO!” I prefer a little mystery. I never want it to be a sure thing for the guy in the next stall. Let him think that maybe I’m peeing and I’m just modest.
I can never manage to use those tissue covers correctly. Inevitably, there’s always a drop of stray liquid on the seat that came from god-knows-where. It might be pee. It might be back-splash from the last flush. It might be . . . (you know!)
So what happens is this. I put the near-transparent “protective” layer down on the seat and watch in horror as the incredibly absorbent sheet sucks up an immeasurably small amount of water. The moisture quickly moves throughout the entire sheet causing it to both stick to the seat and completely deteriorate. It’s like watching a toilet seat version of NASCAR – the moisture races around the seat on a miniature track, in opposite directions from its source. My choice now is this. Touch the sheet in order to remove it or leave.
My brain does this:
BRAIN: You need to get that off the seat immediately and start over.
DENNIS: I know!
BRAIN: Well do it!
DENNIS: Ewww! But I’d have to touch it!
BRAIN: Use your foot. Just put your foot on a dry part and drag it off the seat. Hurry, you have to go!
DENNIS: I know! You’re telling me?
I then put my foot on the seat cover, which is nearly invisible now since it’s bonded to the seat, and attempt to drag it off. As my foot slides off the seat it makes a heavy slapping sound as my foot unexpectedly hits the floor. I immediately begin reading the minds of everyone else occupying the bathroom, and wince.
DENNIS: SHIT! Everyone in here is wondering what the hell I’m doing in here!!! Nobody properly using a toilet EVER makes that noise! I wonder if they’re wondering what part of my body did that or what I’m doing?!?!?!
BRAIN: Hurry, there’s not much time. Did you get it off?
DENNIS: NO! The dry part ripped away from the wet part that’s still stuck on the seat!
BRAIN: QUICK! Use your foot again! Push the wet stuff into a wad and then grab some toilet paper and just sort of push it onto the floor. Maintenance will get it later!
I carefully use my foot as instructed and am further horrified to see that my sneaker has now left a large wet “tannish” colored streak everywhere my sneaker has touched.
DENNIS: OH SHIT!
BRAIN: It’s not shit, it’s just dirty water.
DENNIS: It’s not dirty water! I must have been standing in pee and now I’ve tracked it all over the seat! There’s no way I’ll ever get this cleaned up!
BRAIN: I’ll handle this. Wad up as much toilet paper as you can and put it on the seat. Make sure it’s a lot. Then use your foot again to push the paper all around to clean and absorb all of the water that’s both on the seat and on your foot at the same time. (Keep in mind that “clean” is a relative term).
DENNIS: (Complies) Like this?
BRAIN: Yes! It’s working! Now take some more paper and give it one more good swipe for good measure. After that you should be ready to go!
DENNIS: I’ve BEEN ready!
BRAIN: Oh yeah, sorry.
Afterwards, I notice the wadded up paper all over the floor and start to panic. Ok. I have some bathroom issues. I’m worried that the next user of this stall will be standing there waiting for me to exit and as he enters, he’ll see all the paper on the floor and think terrible things about me, particularly that I’m a pig. So I decide to use the toe of my sneaker to kick all the paper into a “neat” pile in the far rear corner of the stall. In the course of doing this, my foot accidentally crosses the imaginary “boundary” which extends from the bottom of the side-partition, the last eighteen inches to the floor, and hits the shoe of my “neighbor.”
DENNIS: OH SHIT! I just touched the guy in the next stall! He’s going to think I’m hitting on him! SHIT!
BRAIN: Damn it! Look next time. You can’t be touching other men in a rest room! People are going to start talking about you!
DENNIS: They already do!
BRAIN: Well, you have no choice. You’re just going to have to sit in here for, let’s say a half hour or so, to make sure that there’s a fresh supply of public bathroom users in here when you go to leave. You just can’t risk being seen by anyone who was in here when you came in or took care of business. And you certainly can’t risk running into the guy in the next stall. Give him time to get out of here and get into the next County. Thirty minutes should be plenty!
This is all my mother’s fault. Those of you with psychology degrees know what I’m talking about. My mother would never use a public rest room. Worse, she never let ME use a public restroom (Number one was ok, but number two you did at home). I honestly can’t remember using a public toilet prior to age eight. What I remember is being raced home by her so that I could take care of business in the sterile surgically clean environment known as our bathroom (or some other close-by non-public place like my dad’s store or a relative’s. I can’t tell you how many times we visited a relative because somebody had to go. And we’d always stay for a while afterwards so that it wouldn’t look like the only reason we stopped by was to take a shit.)
I went to summer camp for the first time when I was eight. Not only was this terribly traumatic for me (first time away from home) but there was no way I could wait a whole month to do my business. My mother and I didn’t discuss this tiny detail before she sent me. So I wasn’t clear on whether or not I had permission to go public.
I think I set the camp record for running out of underwear faster than any other camper in history. (That will be a separate blog). Three days. That’s how long I lasted before I finally broke down and used the can. And let me tell you something folks. A sleep-away camp public bathroom is the LAST PLACE ON EARTH that any child should have to use as a bathroom, the first time they go number two in public.
As a courtesy, I’ll spare you the description of the can. But I will tell you this. Besides water (or some liquid) also in the bowl was a t-shirt, several toothbrushes and all of the film from my camera (which had been missing and was now apparently found). I constantly had stomach cramps as a result of avoidance. I eventually stopped eating and after two weeks, I ran away from camp because I wanted to go home. They found me and made me stay of course. My mother suffers from Crohn’s disease to this day – why am I not surprised. Anyway, we all eventually have to go public. And now you know.