No rest in restroom



Among the many mysteries of womanhood, men often wonder why we take so long in the bathroom. My husband once told me that he assumed women’s bathroom were full of shoe catalogs, chocolate samples, rose gardens, and string quartets, since that was the only possible explanation he could come up with to explain why women would go into the restroom in pairs and stay in there for so long.

My son–who thankfully did not inherit an amazing mini bladderini from my side of the family–claims that all women’s bathrooms must have plasma screen TVs and an endless supply of video games in them, since the only times he’s ever seen his mom, aunt or grandmother run is to get out of the car and run to the bathroom.

Unfortunately, like most of their ideas about my life, their fantasies have no relationship to the restroom reality.

So I am going to clear up the mystery of women’s restrooms, once and for all, by sharing my recent adventure into the public bathroom at a concert. But consider yourselves warned and another myth shattered: not only was there no chocolate, plasma or toilet paper in sight, I actually burned more calories in this “rest” room venture than I typically do at the gym.

Not wanting to waste a drop of my $8 beer, or miss a minute of my $200 concert, I waited until the band took a break to visit the restroom.

Unfortunately, so did every other woman at the show.

It doesn’t matter what time of day or night, or what the event is, even in an otherwise completely empty venue, there is always a line of women assembled to use a public bathroom. Usually I just smile politely and take my place, using the opportunity to check my email, fix my lipstick or just stare into space.

This time I had to pee so badly I got some aerobic exercise in (257 extra steps according to my pedometer) while waiting, including some power crunches as I checked for feet under the stall doors every three minutes, figuring that no one could actually be taking this long while I was waiting so anxiously.

When the door finally opened my bladder was ready to burst. I nearly knocked down the woman leaving the stall, then earned a few more crunches while helping her pick up her belongings from the floor. Who knew you could fit so many cosmetics into a teeny little clutch purse. Sorry!

Then I had to wrestle two drunk teenagers for the privilege of getting into my stall, burning approximately 239 calories in the process. A few deep breaths, then the door wouldn’t latch but I was about to wet my pants, so that was the least of my problems. The seat cover dispenser was empty and the door hook was missing, so I carefully hung my 400-pound purse around my neck, yanked down my jeans and assumed the “universal restroom position,” otherwise known as the URP.

In the URP my thigh muscles began to shake, rattle and roll. Of course I’d love to actually sit down and rest them, but there were no seat covers and I had to pee too badly to wipe the seat and lay toilet paper on it, hence, the URP.

As my thighs were shaking, and my head was aching, I reached for what turned out to be an empty toilet paper dispenser. Thank goodness I carry Kleenex pocket packs in my purse, the 400-pound purse that was precariously hanging around my neck.

As I tried to search the enormous black caverns of my bag for the five packs of Kleenex I know were in there somewhere, the sensor on the toilet flushed, scaring me to death, while propelling a fine mist of water onto the edges of my still URP-ing thighs. I shook them double time, burning at least 745 calories trying to dry off the mist while still searching for Kleenex and hand sanitizer that I now needed to wash off my legs.

The band was on its third encore by the time I returned to my seat, exhausted from my intermission workout. “What took you so long?” asked my husband, between bites of a truffle sampler he said he got in the men’s restroom.

Unbelievable, I thought, grabbing the candy from him. For once I gulped it down guilt-free. After all, I had already gotten my workout in the restroom.

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Originally published in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on October 17, 2008.

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