The public restroom has always been a place I avoided at all costs. That is, until I had children.
Even before they were born, their presence was causing me to abandon my previous rules about these communal places, as the increasing pressure on my squished bladder just would not wait until I made it home.
I briefly enjoyed a hiatus from visiting the public restrooms during babyhood, when I only had to duck into one to change a diaper or, and this is the most unpleasant of unpleasantries, nurse a hungry infant on a hard plastic chair shoved in the corner next to the hand dryer (oh, I do not miss those days).
My detest and dislike for public restrooms not only comes from a fear of the various germs and smells that live in them, but the mere fact that I don’t like going into a place with a bunch of other women to share what, to me, is very private. I don’t want to visit. I don’t want to know what others did in the stall before me, I don’t want to hear it or see it. I know that this makes it virtually impossible for me to ever experience other cultures where there aren’t even dividers (or western toilets) between, a’ hem, potties. I know that my public bathroom phobia has caused my bladder to grow to the size of the Goodyear blimp, and this is not healthy, but I also know that this is something that will be with me for the rest of my life, and now that I have a toddler who wants to devour public bathrooms like she does fruit snacks, I need to deal with it.
Just when I think I’ve overcome the germs (Hand sanitizer? Check!) and the unsightliness and the general grossness of using a typical public restroom, I am faced with a new problem: the freaky drunk woman.
That’s right, you heard it correctly: freaky drunk woman.
I was in the middle of helping Katie with the toilet seat cover in a restaurant bathroom when in stumbles (I knew she was stumbling because you could hear her stumbling) a lady who had one too many margaritas.
She mumbled/slurred a few expletives before realizing that she was in a stall next to a child at which point she apologized for her dirty mouth.
What to say? “Well, at least you’re in the bathroom” I call out, while holding Katie above the bowl for fear that if she falls in she will need to bathe in bleach when we get home.
The woman goes on to tell me (all the while doing what one does in a bathroom) all about how she swore in front of her kid’s school teacher and she hardly ever goes out and do I ever take my kids to the Science Center because I really should she took her daughters there to see the Dead Sea Scrolls and that was so fun and now they are 15 and 16 and they won’ even talk to her and I should, while I am down there, go up in the Space Needle and have lunch – spend the extra money because it is so cool when the restaurant spins and you’re eating lunch, it costs extra but spend the money because those kids they grow up so fast and oh, I have a son and I named him a gunfighter’s name (Dylan) and good thing because his daddy slept with the babysitter . . .
All of this information from a quick trip to the loo.
We exit our stalls and begin the hand washing process. Freaky drunk lady sees Katie and starts gushing about her cuteness (okay, I guess this lady wasn’t too intoxicated) and little girls and repeats that hers won’t speak to her. Her words are hard to decipher between the spitting and slurring that is happening and I reconsider that bleach bath for Katie and myself upon our arrival home.
Please understand that I hardly said anything to this woman. Remember that I don’t care for public bathrooms; I only go in them when my children need me to (because I don’t care if my bladder explodes and I need emergency surgery to repair it). And now, I have a whole new fear of those very public places where we do our very private business.
The fear of the freak.
Because that's what I feel like these days, a freak magnet. And I don't think they make a hand sanitizer for that.
Oh, and freaky drunk lady left without washing her hands.