The Ladies’ Room, Emergency Situations, and What to Do About Them

Hmmm.  I’m starting to sound slightly obsessed about bathroom stuff, aren’t I?  I know I said I would wait a week or two before posting on this.  I lied.

Sooo, the Ladies’ Room.  Yah.  I have a thing about that, too.

I have told only the people very close to me (and now, I’m sharing with you.,,.don’t you feel blessed?) that, I would rather run to my car and poo my pants than be forced to have an ‘emergency’ situation in a public (particularly a work-related) Ladies’ Room.  (catchy opening, eh?)

I am gently referring to these as ‘emergency’ situations, because there is absolutely no reason, whatsoever, that anyone should be taking a leisurely poop in a public/work related restroom.  None.

The thing is, no matter how much you try to convince yourself that no one cares if you have an ‘emergency’ situation in the bathroom, it is universally untrue, and we all know it.  I’m sure that any number of you can recall whispered conversations about what the hell was going on with Mary who was in there for 20 minutes after lunchtime and left a cloud of green gases hovering in the air for much of the day after her departure.  Or the time you saw what suspiciously looked like your coworker Dan with his pants down and a newspaper and cup of coffee on the floor in his stall.  Or the time you could swear it was Carla’s shoes you could see in the handicapped stall (preferred location of all ‘emergency situations’… I guess people like to spread out and make it into a little vacation in there) when the toilet flushed approximately 4 times while you were in there doing specifically and emphatically non-emergency things.

Now, if you are concerned about the potential for an emergency situation and are unsure about the possbility of making it to your car, you could try to avoid the embarrassment in advance by prepping your coworkers or friends.  You could remove your makeup (or, if Male, put some on?), walk around holding your stomach, and woefully, yet subtly, indicate to others that you think you may have food poisoning.  You could also (sorry Men, get your own thing here) blame your montly visitor.  That usually has a high empathy factor.

You could employ a good friend to be your wing man and either deflect potential bathroom users with a gossipy conversation about Steve in Accounting, or alternatively, stand at the sink whilst using 3 faucets on full speed, and carry on a very loud and distracting conversation with you in order to minimize the truth of what is really going on in your stall.

This is, of course, supposing that you have actual friends to assist you in your time of need.  I’m sorry to say that, friends or not, I’m choosing the pants pooping in the car.  I’ll use my friend to explain to others that I may be late returning from lunch because I broke my heel or my cat needs surgery or something of that nature.

Another alternative is to always have a supply of what my friend J and I affectionately refer to as ‘pink pills’, which are basically the store brand version of chewable Pepto Bismol tablets.  They are miracle workers, my friends, I highly suggest you try them.  Best to be used if you’re feeling a little concerned and want to take a proactive approach.

If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation of having no friends, no pink pills, no car, or if you work over 20 miles from your home, I’ve really got nothing for you.  I might suggest trying to find an alternative location, like, a McDonald’s bathroom, which is probably really gross, but at least no one will recognize you there.  If it really IS an emergency, where you had no warning and it’s either poop at your desk or make a clenched run for your nearest bathroom, all I can say is, while you have my greatest sympathies, don’t try to fool yourself into thinking that no one cares.  They do.  And they will talk about it.

Maybe you’ll get lucky and there will be no one in there during your time of woe, or, if someone (or, God forbid, multiple people) happens to walk in, you can get your business done quickly and wrinkle your nose dramatically and roll your eyes while leaving your stall and pretend that it was the person next to you.  You can even try crying and/or pretend disgust at how awful the bathroom smelled when you went in.  Certainly all valiant attempts, but in the end, the fact of the matter is: EVERYONE KNOWS.

Now that you know the truth of the matter, buy a car, get a friend, or move your job closer to your home. Until then, your best hope is that Mary or Dan will have similarly timed bad days, and can trump your situation with grander, more flagrant (fragrant?), emergency situations.  Barring that, you are SOL.  Ha.

Day trip…

Well, I hadn’t planned on making this blog into one of those that recounts my daily activities….

For one thing, it just doesn’t feel like ‘me’, and since I don’t fully understand the whole world of blogging, I still don’t get why anyone would want to read a person’s blog of daily activities, even if the person is a movie star or Mother Teresa.

Second, my daily activities are not generally blog-worthy.  Nor are the activities of my son, my cat, or the neighbor’s dog/horse/llama.  I highly doubt that anyone would be interested in reading of my glamorous and fun-filled days of napping, doing the laundry, doing the dishes, napping, sometimes cooking some really fantastic meals, playing WoW, and doing more laundry.

Despite the fact that I am presently making some very delicious caponata of which I nearly ate all the olives before they made it into the pan, have a glass baking dish containing white socks and an undershirt drying in the heated oven because our dryer no longer actually dries anything (Spenser asks, “Oh, is this a new recipe you’re trying out?”), and my kitchen sink which was empty twenty minutes ago now contains 2 dishes, 3 glasses, and 3 utensils since my son greeted the day, I hardly consider this worth expanding upon.

I will, though, tell you of a Bad Thing I did yesterday, while taking a day trip into Brooklyn with my mother.

My parents each grew up in Brooklyn, and some, if not most of our extended family still live in the ‘Downstate’ area of New York.  While growing up, we logged many a mile in our family car, traveling to visit this extended Family.

The basic travel route we took included the standard procedure of crossing the Tappan Zee and Throg’s Neck Bridges and then choosing 1 of three routes to our destination.  Nana was in one direction, Staten Island/Brooklyn relatives was another, and Aunt Libby in Massapequa was yet another.
I, as well as others in my family, have pretty much come to learn this ‘basic’ route by heart.  I’m not even sure if I could write down the exact directions, it would probably go something like this:

Keep going south and look for signs for the Tappan Zee bridge to make sure you’re not lost.  After that you might have to get onto I95 for a few seconds, I’m not sure, but other than that, never follow signs to NYC, or south, or any tunnels, those are bad.  Even though you think you’re going south.  NYC is too south.  Look for signs for the Throgs’ Neck Bridge.  Stay in the right lane going over the bridge, it will take you onto some other highway.  I don’t know which one it is.  Maybe the sign is for Belt Parkway or Cross Island.  Stay on that until you see Nana’s exit.

Don’t ask me what is West/South/East, I don’t know, I just know.

Over the years, my sister Rosalie and I have discovered that this ‘basic’ route was not exactly the most efficient way to go.  There were shortcuts through New Jersey, ways which required only one bridge crossing, etc.

Now I have been pretty hard-nosed about the whole thing, mainly because I don’t have OnStar like my sister, but mostly because I’m more comfortable with going the old-fashioned way.  It’s a good thing I didn’t grow up with a horse and buggy.

This brings us to our journey yesterday, which had a shiny new mapped out route through parts of New Jersey, with newer, exciting bridges to explore.

I have had some previous experience with one of these exciting bridges, which happens to be the $^*#@%($@%& Verrazano bridge.  It costs $14 to cross that %$^@* thing.  Fourteen dollars!!!!!!

Anyway, the Verrazano bridge has TWO levels.  If you don’t know what the hell you’re doing, you usually just scramble for whatever level is closest to you, because there are 38 lanes, 57820 cars around you, and you treasure your life and that of your occupant/s.

What normally follows is that you are desperately trying to read the exit signs while contemplating the fact that you’re on the claustrophobic lower level and that there are another 57820 cars driving over your head,  all while simultaneously attempting to navigate your car without dying a horrible, slow death, because there is no way an ambulance would make it to you in this fustercluck.

What immediately follows is that you realize that you think you need to be 27 lanes over to the left in order to make the exit you need.  You’re not completely sure, because the sign flashed briefly in your peripheral vision whilst trying to avoid the pickup truck and sufficiently dinged-up Mercedes barreling into your lane.  What inevitably follows is that you only make it to lane 24 before you have run out of time and available bridge, and you are now going into completely unknown territory, along with your 57820 new friends, who, invariably, and smugly, knew exactly where they were going.

I won’t discuss the trip there, which somehow landed us on the upper level of the V, the strange fortune of navigating to the correct exit while not dead, and getting into Brooklyn and only driving for 27 blocks in the wrong direction under an elevated train because the numbers on the buildings suddenly jump from the 900’s to the 4000’s, and by the time we actually located another number on a building, we realized the numbers were going down and not up.
That was, apparently, the easy bit.

The way home was slightly different.  I’ll skip the part about landing on the lower level of the bridge from Hell, about missing the signs for the NJT (or whatever we were supposed to be getting on), and fast forward to being lost in Some City in New Jersey, with 57820 new friends, and more city traffic.

I understand that it has taken me a very long time to get to the heart of this story, which is telling you of  something I did, which I have never done before.  I know for a fact that this Bad Thing is something that is done with little conscience and on a daily basis in large cities, by other less law-abiding and carefree citizens, but this is generally not something that Catherine the Law Obeying Driver From Upstate would ever consider doing freely.

Whilst waiting behind a new and more hyper 57820 roadmates at a busy intersection, my mother decides to open the map.  As I’m trying to point to where we are on the map, and trying to follow where we are supposed to be turning (to the right, immediately, with 2 lanes of traffic barring our way), I look up and notice that the cars in front of me have progressed forward through the intersection.  I gleefully step on the gas just as I notice that the light is a full on and glaring red, and there is quite a bit of beeping going on.  At this point, I am almost but not quite approaching the halfway point of the intersection, and, having to make a quick decision, I plow through the intersection illegally, waving my hand and saying, ‘sorry!!!’ to my jovial and gesturing signs of good cheer roadmates.   Muttering, “I can’t believe I just did that.  I can’t believe I just did that”, with my mother clutching the door handle, we escape onto a side street unharmed, and search for tranquilizers in our pocketbooks.

In the end, it was not the fact of wandering around two different cities in a state of country bumpkinesque confusion, or the fact that the lady in the grocery store did not know what a ‘box of candy’ was (no joke), or having to hear my mother say, ‘ask that guy where to go!’ every five seconds (while at an intersection, said guy is selling god-knows-what in a little bicycle cart, and looks a little un-showered), nor even the fact that we wasted a quarter of a tank of gas by traveling a mere 17 miles in city traffic, it was that one Bad Thing which plagued my memories for the day.  Hard to believe, but there it is.

There is a bright side to all of this, however, though it did take me quite a while to get to the point. My Bad Thing, while not really that bad, compared to, say, murdering someone,  is still far more interesting than my laundry.  Even if, it is, baking in the oven in a glass dish.

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Exploration and Updates..?

So, a friend of mine, whose name rhymes with ‘cleric,’ was moaning and complaining that my blog background was hurting his eyes and preventing him from properly reading and enjoying my witticisms here (I’m exaggerating a little.  We’ll call it poetic license).
I decided to do a little exploring into the world of blogs, check out other site designs, and woefully compare them to my starter situation.

One of the first blogs I came across had a photo at the top, of something that looked like a baby in a cage.  I thought that perhaps this was a blog devoted to human rights in Third World Countries or something of that nature.  I looked a little closer when I saw that the caption on the photo was not referring remotely to human rights.  I further noticed that it was not a baby in the picture, but likely an adult.  Perhaps female.  And there were some unidentifiable gadgets in the cage with/on her. 

I won’t give any further mention to this guys’ posts, but, honestly, what the hell is wrong with people?  I guess that my early perusals of an interminable number of blogs on bread baking and dog shenanigans didn’t sufficiently prepare me for the fact that there are some strange (sick) personalities out there.

Anyway, thanks to Eric-rhymes-with-cleric, I was forced into discovering a whole new world of templates and pictures and designs that can be used.   The background and layout will likely change multiple times before I find something not only that suits me perfectly, but also one that doesn’t induce headaches or seizures.

I hope to successfully add something eventually to the ‘About Me’ section, and attempt to make this whole experience a little more enjoyable for the reader.  Maybe I’ll even add a saucy photo of my cat, Mario, who is extremely handsome and photogenic. 

I’m reeling you in, I can feel it!

On Going to the Gym, or Pretending to do so, Just for the Purpose of Tanning

So, I have a confession to make.

I am one of those bad people who enjoys and worships the sun.  I am too old and too wise and too fair to still be in this group of people, but, oh well.  It’s my bed/grave, you’ll have to deal with it.
When I am unable to directly worship the sun (wintertime, par exemple), and sometimes, even when I’m able, I use alternative methods, and by that I mean, tanning salons/tanning booths. 

I won’t go into the spiel on how going to a tanning salon is like my private zen time, or how I can forego the use of most makeup because my skin is glowing (so what if it’s because I’m irradiating unnaturally?), or how I just feel “prettier” when I’ve got a bit of color.
Tanning, of any sort, is very bad.
Don’t do it, kids.

Anyway, I like it, however bad it is, and I try to keep it minimal.
I happen to belong to a gym in which my elite membership allows me to enjoy unlimited tanning services along with the usage of the gym equipment and facilities.
I have to admit, that the only motivation I have for actually working out, most times, is knowing that I can go tanning afterwards.  So you see, tanning may have its healthful benefits after all.  Right.

There is a problem, however, which can happen at any time, but generally is more likely to pass when the weather starts getting nice and/or when I have been completely neglecting my gym attendance for weeks/months at a time.

Scenario:

I am feeling that I need to get a little color.  I haven’t been to the gym in months.  The sun is shining outside.

Now.  I could just take a long and invigorating walk in the neighborhood, thereby getting my required daily exercise AND a dose of the real sun.  The problem there is that I don’t want a farmer’s tan (I can’t find my bag of shorts, and anyway, my legs are too white), and I don’t want the possiblity of having to be social or friendly with someone in the neighborhood (which also means I’d have to look somewhat presentable and wear a small amount of makeup, so as not to frighten them). 

I could just hang around in my backyard or driveway, but the yard is directly facing the street, and there is no fence.  And, uh, no lounge chairs.  So, I’m going to look pretty moronic just standing there in the middle of the yard, doing nothing but holding my arms out and staring slack-jawed at the sun in a slight state of undress.  I suppose that I could sit in a chair and read a book, but again, keeping up appearances and all that.  A lone book-reading gal sitting on a chair in the middle of a sunny yard is a little off.  Not to mention that I would still have to do an extensive search for my bag of shorts.

Of course, I COULD just go to the gym, sign up for my faux sun session, and that’s that.  I’m paying for it, what do I care, right?

Oh, wrong, wrong, wrong, my friends.

First off, if I go in solely for tanning, the evil and appropriately tanned/trim Young People at the front desk will know that I’ve willingly foregone an actual gym activity related to working out.  The following will run through their minds:

-Why the hell is this lady coming in here for tanning when it’s sunny and 80 degrees out?  Who does that?
-I think this lady should be more concerned about actually doing some exercise than about damaging her skin, which probably doesn’t have much left to it, seeing as how she must be like, over 60.  (I’m not, but these are The Young People, and anything over 25 is likely old to them)
-Well, maybe she doesn’t have the time to work out and will come in later, after returning from her successful career of writing nonsense blog posts

So, in the unlikely event that they all thought the third thought, there is then the dilemma of what to wear when going to a sun session that happens to be located only 20 feet from equipment that I should be using.

What exactly should I be wearing to said sun session?

-If I wear workout clothes, we all know that it’s just a ruse to get people to believe that I’m actually preparing for real gym activity, when in fact, I am not.  No one is going to fall for that.
-If I wear street clothes, it will be obvious that I never intended to work out, at all, and am only there for the use of the fake sun facilities.  Everyone there knows that it has been exactly 48 days since my last gym attendance, who’s kidding who, here?
-If I wear ‘professional’ clothes, it could be supposed that I have just popped in after work or on my lunch hour, and, since I obviously didn’t head for the locker room with a change of clothes, will likely come in later for the actual workout.

The problem with that last one is, I am not actually working anywhere, professional or not, and it would be absolutely ridiculous to drag work clothes out and put them on just to make am impression on the Evil Young Desk People or the one person who may be able to see me scurrying into the fake sun room.
That would be a double ruse, and even I won’t go for that.

I suppose I could create a t-shirt that reads: I’M JUST HERE FOR THE TANNING, and avoid all of the funny business ahead of time.  Maybe there’s a market for that.

Until then, the answer is to wear workout clothes, sign up for the tanning, and then actually get on the godforsaken treadmill for at least 20 minutes.  Provided that it’s not too crowded in the treadmill room and I can find one that has a working fan and that it’s not located next to anyone male or female and my mp3 is sufficently charged and I don’t trip ascending the stairs, etc.
(And yes, it has to be at least 20 minutes, because anything less than that is obviously just a ruse to get people to believe that I’m there for a workout and not just there to pass time in order to get to the tanning booth without looking like a lazy slob.  An Old Lazy Slob, with 60 year old Bad Skin.)

So, there it is.  Now you all know of my seedy and corrupt intentions behind “going to the gym.”
If you hear me say that I am, don’t be overly impressed.  I do ask, however, that you appreciate all of the intense thought processes that accompany my journey there.  That qualifies as a sort of workout in itself.
Right?

Bonus Ending Added Here to Make Me Seem Somewhat Less Lazy:  Just so you know, I have never gone to the gym and skipped the workout part of it.  I have even stretched the workout well past the 20 minute minimum.  I won’t tell you that generally it is because the tanning booth I am seeking has no open time slots; it’s because I am basking in the glory of a vigorous and joyful workout.  Yes.

Bathrooms With Windows

Right.  So I’ve already admonished myself in my first post about using ‘poop’ references in my posts, but this is a slight variance on the subject, and has more to do with bathrooms, and the windows within.

Now, I don’t know if it’s just me, or if my imagination is too wild, or if I’ve seen too many peeping-Tom type of movies, or perhaps I have viewed too many ‘interesting’ things in windows whilst out walking… but… I have a thing about bathroom windows.

When I walk into the bathroom that is not my own, and I see there is a window which is inevitably right near the toilet (alas, most bathrooms are not big enough for anything to not be right near the toilet), I stare at it with a bit of shock and dismay, when I notice that there are no blinds pulled, no curtains drawn, no ‘frosted’ effects, or anything to ensure the privacy of bathroom goings on.  I know, that was a very long sentence.

I will look out the window, to see exactly who might be privy (heh) to my bathroom activities, whether there is anyone lurking around within a mile or two (holding binoculars, no doubt), and then further investigate whether there are shades to pull or any devices to use as a blocking mechanism.

I don’t know that most women necessarily notice the potential danger of an unobscured window, since they sit down (shocking, I know) during toilet activities, and probably figure that the most that will be seen is their head.  That is, if they’re thinking about it, at all. 

I generally suppose that men might likely consider it, but think nothing of it; hell, they may even be FACING said window when doing their stand up business at the toilet.   I’m guessing, though, that they don’t care much, seeing as how most public Men’s Rooms are a place of jolly fun and comradery with men lining up next to each other and discussing various activities whilst in their very un-private posts.

I don’t understand it.  In my own bathroom, there is a window near the toilet, and there is a screen and a curtain which can be drawn.  I do actually leave the curtain and window open during the summertime, but I do go through lengths to assure that no one knows exactly what I am doing in there (if it’s actual toilet business, as opposed to, say, laundry).

At night time, I sometimes will not turn on the light.
During the summertime, I will actually sometimes close the curtains AND the window, so that no one in the vicinity would know that I was purposefully closing the curtains for privacy, and then snicker to themselves when they hear the toilet flush.  (dangerously paranoid here, Catherine, you know this)
If it is daytime and I am pretty sure no one can see me anyway, I will sometimes bend down and pretend to pick something up, and then crouch over to the toilet.  Tricksy, eh?

This is all certainly ridiculous, I know, and I’m not sure where this intense need for bathroom privacy was born.  I didn’t grow up in a house where it wasn’t respected.  I’ve never been burst in upon.  I’ve never had a horrifying nor deadly experience in a bathroom.  Or, any other room, come to think of it.
I actually admire people who are very clear about their bathroom intentions (I’m talking about the number 2 kind), and then announce that the bathroom should be avoided after they’ve left.

I guess I consider the bathroom to be like a sanctuary.  It’s my own private little place, and I’m doing my own private thing, and I don’t want anyone else to be aware of it.  I suppose that in this world where everyone knows some of your business due to loud cell phone conversations and internet cookies and the like, I need to hold on to this one last bastion of privacy available to me.

For now, I will say, if you ever invite me to your home, there had better be curtains in there.  The kind you can actually close and not just swags that can’t be undone.  And, you can rest assured that there will be multiple modes to ensure your personal privacy if you ever need to venture into mine.

Some day, perhaps next week, I will discuss the evils of public ladies’ rooms, and my rules for engagement there.  Until then, close your curtains.  People with binoculars are watching.