“Make sure you use the bathroom before you go!” My mother’s words always rang true before each of our lengthy ventures to grandma’s house. Already nestled in the car, with my goose-down pillow under head, the march back to the house seemed unthinkable. I sat comfortably, my head awash with the mellow sounds of Eric Clapton. I was called back to reality by my restless intestines. Bedazzled at these developments, I pondered to myself. Could it be the tautness of the seatbelt? Did I really need to go? “Ah yes”, I thought, sleep will appease my woes. Reality set in as the distant bathroom and my present discomfort were at ends. Despite the assured look of “I told you so” I was bound to receive, I signaled to my mother that a rest stop was needed. I was ten miles from relief, but mother’s cautious driving was not helping my cause. My eager request for the passing lane was squashed under the weight of my mother’s hatred of backseat drivers. With agonizing sluggishness we arrived at the rest stop. Thoughts of diving from the car with the classic tuck and roll maneuver seemed a reasonable course of action at the time. My delirium died down as I waited patiently then burst forth from the Ford minivan in search of my dear friend the white stick man. He was my salvation from my internal purgatory. Often poking fun at those who speedily race to relief, I withheld my dire necessity from others, as to avoid becoming the butt of my many jokes regarding restroom emergencies.
Every step towards the door was agony as the motion set my bladder aflame. Stepping through the pearly gates, I was met instantly with the slosh of what could only be urine. Looking up from the pool of human waste, I came face to face with my options. Two of the three urinals were occupied by rather large and equally stereotypical truckers. Urinal selection is crucial. Always choose the furthest urinal away from men who are using other urinals. If urinals A and C are occupied, B no longer becomes a valid option. The concept of one space between each restroom patron was abolished before me. Thus, I decided to venture into a dark abyss, a cubicle often compared to the inside of a sewer. A stall in a men’s room is much like experiencing a rated R movie. In sparing you the detail of the profanity written on the walls that surrounded me I will say only this, at what point is writing not sufficient to express one’s hate that etching with a switchblade becomes a necessity? Exiting the stall meant that my worries were only partly over. Washing one’s hands was the next step, which although sounding simple in theory, was daunting in reality. Turning on the filthy tap my stomach turned thinking of the various substances I had just exposed myself to. The counter or should I say “cesspool” over which I reached for a handful of soap drenched my shirt and infuriated my demeanor. The non-existence of soap in this infernal excuse for a restroom, only multiplied my wrath. I stood soaked without reward or compensation for my affliction. Being almost home free the last task was left before me. My un-lathered hands needed drying and the paper towel dispenser was uncooperative. I dared to abide by the simple instructions “if no towel, turn knob” which later proved a fruitless effort. I next looked to the stainless steel drying machine, which having never failed me before, decided to test my patience. I left with hands un-toasted in abashed grief.
Ah restrooms, do not be deceived at this title. A restroom is not a room for resting. Restrooms should not be entitled restrooms to begin with. They are not a room of rest, rather a room of disgust. I much prefer the term bathroom, in which case is still very misleading. Thoughts of the homeless scrubbing themselves at the basins, or little children creating the ever present puddles of excrement near the stalls and urinals is something nauseating beyond compare. It is my belief that these facilities should be utilized only in case of emergency, such as I had the unfortunate experience of. A prior thought of preparation or a newfound obedience to one’s mother. Take from my tale what you will.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.