What if I’m going to the bathroom wrong? How would I know? It was a long, long time ago when I finished my potty training. Which conceptually, I hate thinking about. No wonder it’s hard for parents to sometimes treat their kids like adults; they knew you when you didn’t know how to wipe your own butt. Then in the blink of an eye that clueless kid is supposed to be trusted to drive, take out a financially wise mortgage or tell YOU when it’s time to be shoved into a rest home. “Whipper-snapper, you’d still be in diapers without me!!!”
So obviously when I born, I didn’t know a damn thing. My only saving grace was that my mega-genius older brother did not magically pop out of the womb toilet trained either. So if my super-brainiac bro was a clueless baby, not much more could have been expected of me.
But my point is, I was the last of five kids to come along. I was raised a bit more loosey goosey than my older siblings. The Folks were worn out and tired by then and a lot of assumptions were made that along the way one of my older brothers or sisters would eventually teach me stuff. Well that didn’t happen. I got no birds and bees chat or stranger danger warnings. No one taught me to play catch or slice meat against the grain. I guess Mom figured the other four made it without killing themselves, so with me it was pretty much ‘stop whining (which I didn’t do) and ‘don’t play in the street’ (yeah I ignored that one as well).
But still, it’s embarrassing to think I had to go through wearing a zillion soiled diapers before it finally got drummed into my head how to take care of my own business. I mean, we think humans are so much more evolved above animals, but I put my first dumb kitten down in the litter box once and boom! She knew what to do and where to do it the rest of her life.
Now don’t take this slightly foul poop and pee discourse as implying I am having any personal problems or issues aside from my usual curiosity of why they call it a rest room. I can’t say I really rest in there. If it were named after what I usually experience, it would be called a Relief Room. It’s confusing. I’ve said “I’m going to the bathroom”, yet the room I visited had no bath.
I really appreciate how a lot of European places cut through the confusion and just call it ‘Toilet’. I like that. Right on the wall in the back of the fancy restaurant, it simply says ‘Toilet’. At first, I thought it looked a bit crass, but I’ve grown to admire the simplicity and accuracy. Unfortunately, other places over there call it a Water Closet, which reminds me a drunken frat party or that winter the pipes burst.
Of course, what I will never forget is the first time I walked into a European Men’s room and discovered the female washroom attendants. I’m sure they can always spot the Americans by their darting back out the door to double-check the Men’s sign. That’s certainly what I did. Once I got used them being there it hit me how bad that job must be for relationships. Woman already must think Men are gross; having to watch them use urinals and such must make that even worse. And as a man, you would have to be very comfortable with your personal private’s stature to be in a relationship with a washroom attendant woman that sees a zillion other men’s ‘personal statures’ all day.
But what originally started this train of thought was a recent visit to my office building’s rest (relief) room. The usual gross stuff in there never phases me. People spit, fart and even blow their nose bum style over the trash can. I’ve seen folks brush their teeth or slather themselves with offensively smelling grooming products. Many don’t wash their hands afterwards while others dip all sorts of body parts into the sink obviously practicing a pre-prayer wudu ablution ritual. I can take all that, the only thing that really bothers me is when people are carrying on full blown cell phone conversations while they are excreting in a stall. That’s just nasty and I always feel the need to repeatedly loudly flush all the toilets whenever I hear that.
So, the other day I’m in the Relief Room and my head starts wondering, with all these other people doing all sorts of crazy variations of stuff in here, am I doing everything correctly?
I know there is not that much room for variation, but I remembered the ads for that Squatty potty that came out a few years ago. They repeatedly said its more natural and significantly better for your health to squat over the bowl versus sit. I’d never heard of that before. The only squatting I knew of was if you were creeped out about some contagious germy crud leaping off the seat and attaching itself to your bits. Or some of those infamous hole-in-the-floor toilets at camp or in Asia.
Yeah, I know you’re not supposed to wipe towards the South, but are there other recommendations I don’t know… or that I never learned…or that I simply forgot since my last training was back before I even had all my communication skills mastered. There is not much I clearly recall from the ages zero to three, so it’s logical to think I might be missing some important tidbit of bathroom knowledge. It’s not like there have been any potty refresher courses. I think I know how to drive but they still make me take a new driver’s test every decade.
Surely by the time I was deemed officially potty trained, I had also acquired many basic eating etiquette skills too, like holding a fork correctly or keeping elbows off the table. But it took years and years before my table manners actually become remotely refined. Even now I don’t know what the hell that sideways utensil at 12:00 above the charger plate in fancy restaurants is for, or what direction of movement I am supposed to drag my spoon while eating soup at a hoity toity dinner party.
If I still don’t know all the subtle nuances of how to properly eat, how can I be assured I correctly know everything about rest room usage. I hear the people in other stalls doing all sorts of crazy stuff with toilet paper. It’s not like there is anyone else around to correct me. I mean, the European female restroom attendants accept tips but they sure don’t offer any.