10 May

Women and Public Toilets

OK, usually when I read some email that has been forwarded a million times AND it trashes men, the delete button gives me nanoseconds of revenge. However, this one I think I will post:

Subj: How Ladies Encounter Public Toilets !!!
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My mother was a fanatic about public toilets. As a little girl, she’d
bring me in the stall, teach me to wad up toilet paper and wipe the
seat.

Then, she’d carefully lay strips of toilet paper to cover the seat.

Finally, she’d instruct, “Never, never sit on a public toilet seat.” And

she’d demonstrate “The Stance,” which consisted of balancing over the
toilet in a sitting position without actually letting any of your flesh make
contact with the toilet seat. But by this time, I’d have peed down my
leg. And we’d go home.

That was a long time ago.

I’ve had lots of experience with public toilets since then, but I’m
still not particularly fond of them, especially those with powerful, red-eye
sensors. Those toilets know when you want them to flush. They are psychic
toilets. But I always confuse their psychic ability by following my mother’s
advice and assuming The Stance.

The Stance is excruciatingly difficult to maintain when one’s bladder is
especially full. This is most likely to occur after watching a
full-length feature film. During the movie pee, it is nearly impossible to hold The
Stance. You know what I mean. You drink a two liter cup of Diet Coke,
then sit still through a three-hour saga because, for God’s sake, even
if you didn’t wipe or wash your hands in the restroom, you’d still miss
the pivotal part of the movie or the second scene, in which they flash the
leading man’s naked derriere. So, you cross your legs and you hold it.
And you hold it until that first credit rolls and you sprint to the
restroom, about ready to explode all over your internal organs.

And at the restroom, you find a line of women that makes you think
there’s a half-price sale on Mel Gibson’s underwear in there. So, you
wait and smile politely at all the other ladies, also crossing their legs and
smiling politely. And you finally get closer. You check for feet under the stall
doors. Every one is occupied. You hope no one is doing frivolous things
behind those stall doors, like blowing their nose or checking the
contents of their wallet.

Finally, a stall door opens and you dash, nearly knocking down the woman
leaving the stall. You get in to find the door won’t latch. It doesn’t
matter. You hang your handbag on the door hook, yank down your pants and
assume The Stance. Relief. More relief. Then your thighs begin to shake.

You’d love to sit down but you certainly hadn’t taken time to wipe the
seat or lay toilet paper on it, so you hold The Stance as your thighs
experience a quake that would register an eight on the Richter scale.

T o take your mind off it, you reach for the toilet paper. Might as well
be ready when you are done. But the toilet paper dispenser is empty.
Your thighs shake more. You remember the tiny napkin you wiped your fingers
on after eating buttered popcorn. It would have to do. You crumble it in
the puffiest way possible. It is still smaller than your thumbnail.
Someone pushes open your stall door because the latch doesn’t work and your
pocketbook whams you in the head. “Occupied!” you scream as you reach
out for the door, dropping your buttered popcorn napkin in a puddle and
falling backward, directly onto the toilet seat.

You get up quickly, but it’s too late. Your bare bottom has made contact
with all the germs and life forms on the bare seat because YOU never
laid down toilet paper, not that there was any, even if you had enough
time to.

And your mother would be utterly ashamed of you if she knew, because her
bare bottom never touched a public toilet seat because, frankly, “You
don’t know what kind of diseases you could get.” And by this time, the
automatic sensor on the back of the toilet is so confused that it
flushes, sending up a stream of water akin to a fountain and then it suddenly
sucks everything down with such force that you grab onto the toilet paper
dispenser for fear of being dragged to China.

At that point, you give up. You’re finished peeing. You’re soaked by the
splashing water. You’re exhausted. You try to wipe with a Chicklet
wrapper you found in your pocket, then slink out inconspicuously to the
sinks.

You can’t figure out how to operate the sinks with the automatic
sensors, so you just wipe your hands with a dry paper towel and walk past a line
of women, still waiting, cross-legged and unable to smile politely at
this point.

One kind soul at the very end of the line points out that you are
trailing a piece of toilet paper on your shoe as long as the Mississippi River. You
yank the paper from your shoe, plunk it in the woman’s hand and say
warmly, “Here, you might need this.”

As you emerge, you see your spouse, who has entered, used and exited his
restroom and read a copy of War and Peace while waiting for you. “What
took you so long?” he asks, annoyed. This is when you kick him sharply
in the shin and go home.

This is dedicated to all women everywhere who have ever had to deal
with a public toilet. And it finally explains to all you men what takes
us so long.