When you have to visit a public toilet, you usually find a line of women, so you smile politely and take your place. Once it’s your turn, you check for feet under the cubicle doors.
Every cubicle is occupied.
Finally, a door opens and you dash in, nearly knocking down the woman leaving the cubicle. You get in to find the door won’t latch. It doesn’t matter, the wait has been so long you are about to wet your pants!
The dispenser for the modern ‘seat covers’ (invented by someone’s Mom, no doubt) is handy but empty. You would hang your bag on the door hook if there was one, so you carefully, but quickly drape it around your neck, (Mom would turn over in her grave if you put it on the FLOOR!) down with your pants and assume ‘ The Stance’.
In this position, your aging, toneless, thigh muscles begin to shake. You’d love to sit down, but having not taken the time to wipe the seat or to lay toilet paper on it, you hold ‘The Stance.’
To take your mind off your trembling thighs, you reach for what you discover to be the empty toilet paper dispenser. In your mind, you can hear your mother’s voice saying, ‘Dear, if you had tried to clean the seat, you would have KNOWN there was no toilet paper!’ Your thighs shake more.
You remember the tiny tissue that you blew your nose on yesterday – the one that’s still in your bag (the bag around your neck, that now you have to hold up trying not to strangle yourself at the same time).
That would have to do, so you crumple it in the puffiest way possible. It’s still smaller than your thumbnail.
Someone pushes your door open because the latch doesn’t work. The door hits your bag, which is hanging around your neck in front of your chest and you and your bag topple backward against the tank of the toilet. ‘Occupied!’ you scream, as you reach for the door, dropping your precious, tiny, crumpled tissue in a puddle on the floor, while losing your footing altogether and sliding down directly onto the TOILET SEAT. It is wet of course.
You bolt up, knowing all too well that it’s too late. Your bare bottom has made contact with every imaginable germ and life form on the uncovered seat because YOU never laid down toilet paper – not that there was any, even if you had taken the time to try.
You know that your mother would be utterly appalled if she knew, because you’re certain her bare bottom never touched a public toilet seat because, frankly, dear, ‘You just don’t KNOW what kind of diseases you could get. By this time, the automatic sensor on the back of the toilet is so confused that it flushes, propelling a stream of water like a fire hose against the inside of the bowl and spraying a fine mist of water that covers your bum and runs down your legs and into your shoes.
The flush somehow sucks everything down with such force and you grab onto the empty toilet paper dispenser for fear of being dragged in too.
At this point, you give up. You’re soaked by the spewing water and the wet toilet seat. You’re exhausted. You try to wipe with a sweet wrapper you found in your pocket and then slink out inconspicuously to the sinks.
You can’t figure out how to operate the taps with the automatic sensors, so you wipe your hands with spit and a dry paper towel and walk past the line of women still waiting. You are no longer able to smile politely to them. A kind soul at the very end of the line points out a piece of toilet paper trailing from your shoe. (Where was that when you NEEDED it?) You yank the paper from your shoe, plonk it in the woman’s hand and tell her warmly, ‘Here, you just might need this’.
As you exit, you spot your hubby, who has long since entered, used and left the men’s toilet. Annoyed, he asks, ‘What took you so long and why is your bag hanging around your neck?
“Craigslist best” in 2007.
Published on my Cooking blog June 2014