It’s been too long since I posted, and I don’t feel very deep this morning. I haven’t worked on Astonishing in a week, and if I don’t get something done on it today, I’ll have to be flogged at dawn. So, I’ll continue with my travel theme, and share a couple of my favorite public restroom experiences while we were on the road.
For the Fringelings without dangly bits, you know how important it is to have a clean, working toilet when you stop. Fine, we’ve gotten really good at assessing this before even finding the sign, and most of the rest stops along major highways are reasonable. In the interests of people watching/listening, public bathrooms top laundromats, and that’s pretty hard to do.
Earlier this week, Husband and I went south. Just us, just for the day, a work-related thing for him. As a super bonus, I was able to meet one of my long-standing online fish freak friends. For the record, I have excellent online judgement, a super nice guy who was exactly who I thought he would be from our internet conversations. Husband and I could have spent much longer chatting with him.
Husband did his work thing, we drove around and explored the area a bit, bought a couple of heavenly cantaloupes from the Amish, and then headed back home. Stopped for dinner at a chain restaurant (not Cracker Barrel), where I–you guessed it–had to use the restroom. Now, the tables were fairly empty, but the bar was crowded. Serious drinking in progress.
And there in the claustrophobic stall, I heard the music of my misspent youth. Yes, from two stalls over came the sounds of a young woman puking. There are the sounds of someone who is sick, upset, and then there are the sounds of someone experienced, stealthy. Mind your own fucking business music. Quiet, but unmistakable. I didn’t see her, but I’m guessing young because of the baby bar flies falling off their stools.
True, I could be wrong, but this was, without a doubt, the controlled retching of an experienced puker. Could have been an anorexic, but my money’s on regular drinker. You know who I mean, the gal who sits and drinks until she can’t force another drop, goes to the bathroom and empties her stomach so she can drink some more. Totally took me back to the bars I hung out in when I was in my twenties, where that was a regular sight and sound. Somehow it isn’t surprising this still occurs, and in its own way, it was perfect, because the main character in Astonishing is having a long term, destructive affair with wine.
Funny, I wasn’t so hungry by the time I returned to our table.
A couple of hours later, at a regular rest stop for coffee and bathroom. First of all, it was weird because the main entrance for the women’s room was blocked off, and I had to walk through a gift shop and back outside for access. Fine, it was well lit, other people were there, reasonably clean. I walked in just behind a woman with her young daughter. The little girl was probably around three. If you’re not a parent, let me tell you there’s a special hell in public restrooms with young children, particularly at night when they’re overtired. At three, they’re all either OCD or gleeful at the prospect of touching something disgusting. Still years away from deliberate public puking to have that eighth margarita.
This sweet pea was on the OCD side. “NO! I don’t wanna! It’s gonna FLUSH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Mom: “It isn’t going to flush until I flush it. Now sit back down.”
“NOOOOOOOO! It’s gonnnnnnnnna flush!”
“What are you doing?! Sit back down, you’re peeing on me!”
At this point, I’m feeling totally sympathetic towards mom and the little girl. I imagine meeting mom’s eyes across the row of sinks as we wash hands, giving her an encouraging smile. I’ve been there. Flushing is scary to young kids. Powerful automatic toilets that can’t correctly read the weight of small children are terrifying. Once they have the experience of unexpected suction and splash, every road stop can be a trauma.
“Don’t be a baby! You’re a baby! I’m going to put a diaper on you.”
Yeah, there went my sympathy. Kid is now beside herself, wailing uncontrollably. Three! She is a baby. I know, I know. I’m sure mom was also overtired and ready to cry, and we’ve all said things we regret. But there was something about mom’s tone that made me think this wasn’t all that unusual, and it made me sad.
The whole incident had me wishing we could just be home through a magic portal. Maybe flushed through the automatic flusher.