The Public Restroom
I pride myself in being the kind of husband and father that takes an active part in helping care for my children. If they woke up in the middle of the night or needed fed or diapers changed, I would help out as often as I could to take the burden off my wife. So when we were on a family outing to the local shopping mall and my son needed to go potty it was only natural that I should take him. I had taken him several times at home as he was making the all important switch from diapers to big boy underwear. We were both pretty comfortable with the routine. There would only be one teeny tiny little difference this time. This time it would be a public restroom experience.
Thinking back on my own crucial steps toward manhood, I thought this might be a little intimidating for my little man. When I was his age my family used to go to the drive in theater (remember those?). Mom would put me in my pajamas before we left home. When we arrived at the show, I would consume large quantities of juice and before long I was in need of relief. My dad would dutifully escort me from the car, through a seemingly endless maze of vehicles, up and down the hills, lit only by the images flashing across the giant screen, to the public restroom at the snack bar. I can still remember dad being perplexed by my need to go so bad while in the car, then taking so long to go once we actually reached the restroom. Sitting my naked behind on a strange seat in a row of booths with strangers on either side, it was all just too much. Even worse was waiting in a long line of strangers, dancing around in my pajamas holding my crotch while I waited to attempt to go in the totally open public peeing trough. Forget about it.
With this in mind, I intended to make this as easy as possible for my son . He seemed eager. He was excited by this whole ordeal, this giant step from baby in diapers to manhood. He was ready to make that step. He charged right into the men’s room with me right beside him. I escorted my son to the first empty stall, and got him prepared and on the seat. The first obstacle was that the hole in the seat was a bit larger than the one at home and it was not the complete circle of comfort he was used to at home. At home he had a little plastic doughnut that made the hole a little smaller complete with a front deflector shield that made the process relatively fool proof. Now he had to balance on the edge of an abyss, use one hand to aim and the other to hold on to daddy. That extra inch of clearance on each side was the difference between sitting comfortably and struggling to keep from getting his bottom wet. I held him steady so he could relax. Which he did. So relaxed in fact that he took the opportunity to look around.
My son observed a pair of feet in the stall next to us. Hey, theres somebody over there, He announced in his outdoor voice. Honestly the whole quiet voice thing seemed beyond his understanding. If he had something to say, there was no sense being shy about it. “It’s alright,” I replied in my inside voice. I took a glance down at the strangers feet myself and noticed that they were at least three inches longer than my own. Hows it coming there son? I asked trying to keep my little guy focused. Are you going potty over there too? my son inquired of the mysterious feet. Just let the nice man go potty and you go potty too, once again attempting to remind him we did come in here for a reason. Are you about done little man?
It was quiet for a moment and I thought perhaps the worst was over. But no. The man next door made a sort of sloppy sound. The kind of sound that you just hate to make in a public restroom. That was a sound you really only wanted to make in the comfort and confines of your own private bathroom at home. If you have to make such a sound in a public restroom, you really hope no one else hears it. Unfortunately public restrooms these days are designed by the same people that make concert halls so they have roughly the same acoustics. Not only did my son hear it, he felt obligated to comment. He said the same thing I had said to him when he made that sound, Hey, sounds like DIARRHEA! Diarrhea, was not even a public word when I was growing up. Now we have to hear about it on television commercials. Even so, it is still a word you just do not want to hear in public. I looked again at those gigantic feet. I thought, if he stood up he could probably punch me right over the top of the stall. Are you about done there son?, I asked hoping that this would all be over soon.
Finally he was finished. As he was bending over so I could wipe his little tush, his head got down below the adjoining wall. Still using his one-volume-fits-all voice he asked, Do you want my daddy to come and wipe your bottom too? Mercifully the owner of the feet next door did not feel the need to answer. Thankfully, those feet and their owner just stayed put while I wiped, zipped, buttoned and packed my son out of there like a thief stealing a loaf of bread. I kept him tightly tucked under my arm and I didnt set him down again until we were back beside my wife. “Is everything alright, you look dazed? my wife asked looking at me. Well sure, yes, it went fine, but if a really big guy starts coming toward us Ill meet you back at the car, I said. Why, whats wrong?, she inquired out of genuine concern. Well its nothing really except our son just asked a very large pair of feet if he wanted his daddy to come and wipe his bottom too… By the way, next time he needs to go, itís your turn.