I keep having these dreams. I understand they’re pretty common.(1) In them, I can never find a bathroom. If I do find one it’s unusable – disgustingly filthy, or with no doors or paper, or in the middle of a men’s locker room, or always in the next hall over, or a bucket, or just a circular pipe with no toilet on top of it.
I wake up thinking I’m going to wet the bed. (I haven’t. Yet.)
Unfortunately, I’ve encountered a fair number of potty nightmares in real life too.
Ohio’s Rest Stops
Ohio likes to think of itself as a northern sort of midwestern state – even fought for the Union in the Civil War.(2) But they were tragically far behind in embracing modern (non-outhouse) technology. They didn’t even require flush toilets and running water, not to mention cleanliness and sanitation until 1989. Literally. Legally.(3)
Think about it. From the time I was able to use the grown-up toilet until I was over 30, Ohio was not legally required to provide me with anything other than a latrine. Which often attract bees. Which I am phobic about.
Because of my superior bladder control, I was able to “hold it till we get to Grandma’s.”
Yes, children, you used to have to pay to piss.(4) At some point, someone realized this was a discriminatory practice and decided there must be a stall for those without pocket change. These were invariably the stuff of my nightmares.(5)
In fact, I include pay toilets in this stall-of-infamy recital so I can include a terrible joke. What is a synonym for a pay toilet? Johnny Cash.(6) I refuse to include the graffiti “poem,” because everyone knows it already. You don’t? Go ask your crazy aunt.
Kiddie Toilets for Grown-ups
A recent “innovation” I’ve noticed is for all public toilets to be the size of those in elementary schools. Is it a least-common-denominator thing?(7) A water-conserving measure? Purchases from all the schools that are closing? I don’t know.
What I do know is that for a person with aging knees (me), they are damnably hard to get up from. They make me think I am trapped in a verse of “Seven Old Ladies Were Locked in the Lavatory.”(8)
Which brings to the other toilet terror:
I was traveling in Croatia and stopped in Istria to see a Roman ruin. Feeling the call of nature, I asked for the facilities. When I found them, I found a stall with a hole in the ground. There was a helpful diagram of where to place your feet.
I used it of course. I had no choice by that point.(9)
And I realize that I’m being totally a first-world, ethnocentric, pampered, ugly-American tourist-type, and that millions of people every day (several times a day, really) use squat toilets and are grateful that they have them, as there are those who cannot avail themselves of even that luxury.
But what I want to know is:
Where do their grannies go?
When I was able to travel I was also able to stand up from a squatting position, but now it would take two healthy young lads to hoist me to the vertical. I’m fairly sure such restroom attendants are not available everywhere. I doubt even a handicapped-access bar would help me now. And I’m not even totally old and decrepit. If I make it to 90, I’ll be in real trouble.
Perhaps after years of practice, squatting grannies have exceptionally strong and supple knee joints. Or some secret knee-rejuvenating treatment that they are saving for themselves and their posterity.(10)
In the words of one of the most awful commercials for ass-wipe today, how in the hell can they “enjoy the go”? I can’t even enjoy dreaming anymore.
(1) I wish the hot-n-juicy variety of dreams were more common, but, sadly, they aren’t.
(2) The first one, I mean.
(3) Here’s the statute: The director of transportation shall develop and implement a program for improving the roadside rest area system along highways of the interstate system and the primary system. Each sanitary facility in the roadside rest area system on the interstate system and at selected locations on the primary system that is upgraded shall have potable water, water flush toilets, and wash basins equipped with running water for the use of the traveling public… Effective Date: 07-01-1989 (Emphasis added.)
(4) Or anything else.
(5) See above.
(6) My apologies to Mr. Cash and all his relatives and friends. I respect and admire him a lot. But that’s how the joke really goes.
(7) Which I don’t remember addressing until later in school.
(8) This was a favorite at Girl Scout camp. In addition to being scatological, it’s sexist and ageist, which would have probably been why we liked it, if any of those things other than scatology were a thing yet. Now there’s a stop-motion animated video. Not kidding. See for yourself. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQx1OcIlFqE
(9) Though I did have perhaps my only bout ever of penis envy.
(10) Sorry. Couldn’t help it.