“Daddy, I have to pee,” my son announced to his father as we all walked uncomfortably together through the crowded shopping mall. His father and I try to avoid contact with one another at all costs. The holidays make this exercise difficult, and it’s the time of the year when we have to be slightly mature and less combative. “Oh,well…um…Mommy will take you,” his father said, volunteering me and reminding me of one more reason why I can’t stand to be in his presence for more than an hour. He always seems to be around for the glory or a photo-op, but delegates all of the benign, not fun things it takes to raise a child to someone he views as beneath him.
Father of the year has a new girlfriend; his nerves were making him spew out information about her without thought. I had been listening to a story about Jennifer or Nicole, I can’t remember…but they’re always either named Jennifer or Nicole. Anyway, what’s-her-face has two young daughters, one of which has Down syndrome. “Wow, that sounds like a lot of work,” I said, admiring this woman’s patience. “She doesn’t think so, but I do,” he quipped. “We were all in the car over the weekend, me and her and the kids. The three of them were in the backseat, fighting. The one with Down’s does this grunting thing that drives me nuts, so I put in my headphones and told Jen-Nicole she was in charge of the them, so I could get some peace.” he chortled, obviously proud of himself for taking control of the situation. “Nice to see you’re still a selfish asshole” I blurted out, not the least bit surprised with his actions. Not that I care, but I couldn’t see this romance developing much further. Historically, he’s the only person allowed to have special needs in a relationship, and there is no way in hell a good mother is going to allow her child to be resented for needing attention, special needs or not. I was hoping this one would work out, for selfish reasons. It’s to my benefit when he has a girlfriend. He keeps his nose out of my business, pays his child support and actually does fun things with our son, because he’s occupied and trying to impress the naïve, new love interest.
“Let’s go, buddy” I said to my son as I escorted him to the women’s restroom in the Food Court, trying to quell any open signs of animosity. Even though public restrooms are some of the most foul, disgusting locations on the face of the Earth, I was happy to be able to break away from dysfunctional family bonding time for at least a minute or two. “And then we’ll come get Daddy?” my son inquired “Yes, we’ll be right back” I said, muscling my way through the crowd. As we got closer to the door hiding the potties, my nose picked up on the putrid smell of stale urine, “Don’t touch anything!” I whispered to my boy as I opened the door.
On the other side of the door was a scene straight out of a post-apocalyptic, third-world country. Paper towels and assorted garbage were strewn across the floor and graffiti covered the walls. I paused and tried to back out, but my son was hopping up and down, holding his boy parts and declaring “I have to go, NOW!”. I didn’t want to risk an accident on the way to the department store at the end of the corridor, so I took a deep breath and held it. There were a few unoccupied stalls, I used my foot to open the doors and assess the level of filth. Why my foot? I don’t really know. I was wearing flip-flops, and my feet were just as exposed as my hands. Germs had as good a chance of entering my circulatory system through the pores in my skin at feet level as they did anywhere else. Maybe, I subconsciously think my hands are more dignified. No, I don’t use my feet to eat; but it’s far more likely I’m going to douse my hands with the antibacterial gel I keep in my purse, than I am to seek out a bucket of bleach to rinse the pestilence off of my toes. Maybe, it’s a primal behavior. Although, I don’t ever remember seeing footage of a mother ape using her feet to inspect a bush, before her baby goes in to squat, when I’ve watched the Discovery Channel.
I picked the stall that was the least disgusting and my son and I went in. “Remember, don’t touch anything” I reminded him and I shimmied his pants down. “Mommy, what’s that?” he asked, “I don’t know, but don’t touch it,” he wasn’t listening and picked up the flyer that someone left on the back of the john. “What does this say?” he chirped, “It says don’t touch me, I’m full of filthy germs” I replied, as I grabbed the paper out of his hands and threw it in the trash. “It didn’t say that, Mom”. “Yes it did. Hurry up and pee, so we can get out of here. My eyes are starting to water”. “Are you crying?” “No, Baby. I’m suffocating. Hurry up!”. “I’m not a baby, I’m a big boy. See? Look how I dance!”. “Right, you’re big, but you’ll always be my baby. Now, hurry. Twinkletoes!”
He didn’t hurry; in fact, he took the world’s longest pee. While I waited, I looked at the floor and tried to figure out what kind of people are capable of doing this much damage to a bathroom. How does an adult female, who is aware enough of today’s fashions to get herself to a shopping mall and meander amongst the newest clothes, come into a restroom, urinate all over the seat and floor, and not notice? Surely an image conscious broad wouldn’t want people to know she’s a filthy, seat peeing, hag and would clean-up after herself. This is flat-out vile, but it’s a pandemic. Seat pee-ers are everywhere.
Whoever stereotyped woman as being, caring, nurturing creatures…was a man and has never been behind the door of a woman’s restroom. It’s obvious to me that women, when not under the watchful eyes of society, are just as aggressive as their male counterparts; they’re just not as in your face about it. No, women don’t start wars or pound on their chests and square-off, should someone displease them. They set a trap and wait for an unsuspecting victim to sit in it. Anyone that cared about her fellow fallopianites would not expect someone to have to use all of the leg muscles above her knees to hover over a seat she had tinkled on; there is nothing caring about this. You want to know why women take so long in the restroom, fellas? It’s because we have to do a little pre-game stretching, so we don’t injure ourselves while trying to defy gravity.
“All done, Mommy,” my son giggled. “Ok, let’s go wash our hands,” I directed. “No. I don’t want to. Let’s go get Daddy. I want to show him my new moves”. “Listen, Buddy. You’re lucky I don’t call a Hazmat Crew and have them hose you off. Go wash your hands”. “What’s a Hazbat Crew? Do they have candy?”. “No, they drive a truck and clean up big, yucky messes, Bubba”. “But, I didn’t make a mess. Wait, are you talking about the finger paint? I’m sorry about that”. “What finger paint? What did you do with the finger paint?”. “I’m gonna go wash my hands now, Mommy” he deflected, as he made his way to the sink. “Top and bottom, top and bottom. In between, in between. Rub ‘em all together, rub ‘em all together. You’re all clean, you’re all clean” he sang to the tune of “Where is Thumbkin?” as he played with the bubbles and the water coming out of the automated faucet. He must have picked up this little ditty on one of his children’s shows. I certainly didn’t write it or teach it to him, it was too nice; I am guilty of re-writing the chorus of a Beastie Boys song to be sung “Fight for your right to potty” during his toilet training days. Admittedly, that was more for my amusement, than educational purposes. When he was thoroughly sanitized, we exited the bath-chamber of horrors. I used my elbow, knees and foot to get the door open and took a great big breath of fresh air.
“How did it go?” his father inquired and he hurriedly ended a call on his cell phone. The expression on his face was one I had seen many, many times and let me know that he had been talking about me to the person on the other end. “Business call?” I inquired, just because I love to make him uncomfortable. “Uh, no. Just a friend”. “Oh, well…when you call them back, be sure to mention what a wretched bitch I am,” I said out of earshot from our boy. My son was bouncing around happily, elated that his parents were in 5 feet of each other and there were no lawyers present. We keep up the appearances of not loathing the existence of one another for the sake of his well-being, but someday, he’s going to figure us out. “Mommy, I’m hungry! And I want a toy, a big, expensive toy, like a Hazbat truck!” he declared. “Oh, well…you’ll have to ask your Daddy about that,” I chuckled, repaying the favor.