I take great joy in observing life. I spend a lot of time pondering my observations. So, one day I thought I would write them down. These are my ponderings. -dana

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The loo.

I just arrived home from a 4,000 mile road trip.

Here's what that means.

I have used approximately 38 public restrooms.  I know.  Oooh.

I doubt that I have hardly any male readers, but in the event that you are one of those who just stumbled onto my blog, let me give you an opportunity to go now.  You will understand little of what I write about here.  Only my "sisters of the squat" will understand.  So there.  You've been warned.

I will admit that it is a little odd, and maybe disturbing even,  that out of all the things to ponder,  I am pondering public potties. But hey.  It is was it is.

I, like many of you, was taught at an early age to regard public restrooms with great disdain.  I was also taught to enter them with extreme caution.  So I do.

Don't.  Touch.  Anything.

That means I open all doors by pushing with shoulder or hip--never, ever with my hands.  In the unfortunate event that a "pull" door is encountered, I use a paper towel to avoid actually touching anything.   Even when I have no plan to "sit" on the toilet,  I still take the time to tear four lengths of toilet paper...each approximately 12 inches long, to be placed on the north, south, east and west sides of the toilet.  Never, under any circumstance, no matter how great the urgency,  do I forgo this step.  I always flush with my foot.  After washing hands, if given the choice of paper towels or an electric hand dryer,  I always go with paper towels--unless, heaven forbid, I am in an archaic restroom that has those horrid rolling cloth towels. Then it is mandatory that I choose the electric dryer.   Also, it is a good idea to have hand sanitizer in my bag just in case the hand soap container is empty.   I don't forget to  have a paper towel in hand as I prepare to exit just in case I have to "pull" a door.  If the restroom I just left was without soap or toilet paper, it is my civic duty to report it to the cashier.  I have been known to stand in line to do so.   Can I get a witness?

After my most recent, and by far my longest,  road trip adventure, I have a whole new dislike for public restrooms in general.  It was, however,  the restroom at about mile 3,882 that did me in.

It was late.  I was tired.  Then there it was,  like a beacon in the night.   The glowing green and white Starbucks sign.  "Oh they have nice restrooms," I thought.  And that was before I remembered that they had seat covers, too!  Imagine my excitement.  So the hubby goes for the coffee and I go for the bathroom.  Shoulder pushing open door.  Good.  Oops.  Toilet seat cover dispenser empty.  No worries.  Plenty of toilet paper on the roll.  Then it happened.   The straw broke the proverbial camel's back.  The sleek-looking, male-designed, Georgia Pacific spring-loaded toilet paper machine would only give me two squares at a time.  Two. If you tell me you have never, in the privacy of a stall, silently mouthed a scream at a contraption like this I might be inclined to think you were lying.    I know this thing was designed by a man because a woman would never be so cruel!  Do you know how long it takes, at two squares at a time, to get the 48 inches necessary to cover the toilet?  Girlfriends, you know that is just a recipe for disaster.
Anyway, that was the restroom that pushed me over the edge and made me ponder for the remaining hour-long ride home all the things that really tick me off about public restrooms.

Here we go.

Stalls that don't have a hook on the door for my purse.  I refuse to put my purse anywhere near the floor.  Sometimes I just hang it around my neck.

Worthless hand dryers.  What is the point?   I want an Excelsior that just about blows my skin off.

A regular bottle of hand soap like I use at home.  NO.  A public restroom should have the industrial size  dispenser mounted on the wall.  It is way more sanitary.  In my mind, anyway.

Sticky floors.  With each step, you are a little more grossed out.   I will do anything to  insure that my pants don't come anywhere near that floor.  I will roll them up to my knees if I have to.  Once outside, I will find the nearest patch of grass/weeds and rub my shoes in it until I imagine that all the germ-y stickiness is gone.

Cracks in the stall doors.   I want privacy.  You want privacy.  We don't want anyone even catching one glimpse of what goes on in the stall.

One-ply toilet paper.  I have been known to use half a roll during one visit.   And I'll admit that when, in irritation, I flush (with my foot, of course), I secretly hope the dang toilet clogs and overflows.  That'll teach them to skimp on toilet paper.  Again, I know beyond a doubt that a guy is in charge of purchasing this kind of TP.  How do I know?  Because every time I send my husband to the store to buy it, he comes home with the same kind.  That's how I know.

Too-small stalls.  You know the ones.  It's like the bathroom designer miscalculated the space and so one of three stalls has to be just a smidge too small.  Oh yeah.  A smidge.  It's like when you walk into the stall you have to wedge yourself between the back wall and the toilet just to close the door.  This makes the "don't touch anything" rule impossible.  I just have to go to my happy place at this point.  This is the stall where there is about 8-inches of clearance between the toilet and the door.  Clearly problematic.

Stall doors with broken latch.  No problem if you have a bathroom buddy to guard the door.  But if you're flying solo a huge problem.  I personally use the "check-under-the-door-for-feet" system before I enter a stall.  That simple measure can prevent an awkward moment.  It's the kind of surprise no one wants.

When restrooms are portables.  Uh-uh.  No.

Well, these are my top nine anyway.

During my road trip,  I went to the restroom at a restaurant.  When I walked in, both stalls were in use.  By a little girl, her mother and her grandmother.  The grandmother and the little girl were doing a "happy dance" because the little girl had gone in the big girl potty.   As they danced around outside the stall they chanted, "Go Sophia, go Sophia...you went potty, you went potty".  They seemed oblivious to the fact that an absolute stranger was witnessing, at close range,  this lovely little moment between a grandmother and granddaughter.  Honest to goodness truth. I've never seen anything like it in a public restroom, but then I'd never been to Kentucky.

From her own stall,  the mother said in a voice just dripping with southern drawl, "Sophia, did you put some paper on the potty before you went pee?  Sophia, you have to put paper on the potty when you go pee!" Sophia isn't listening.  She's still doing the happy dance with Grandma.  When I left the bathroom, Sophia was still there, having the best time washing her hands,  happy and unaware that she'd just broken most all my rules for using a public restroom.  Her mother looked at me and said, "It's always an adventure taking my girl to the bathroom".

Oh my. Maybe it's just me being a kill-joy,  but I say that a public restroom is really no place for adventure.  I will stand by that until the day I die.

Some people look forward to getting home to their own beds after being gone on a long trip.

Me?  I'm just thankful for my own loo.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Lost Keys.

I can sing the entire theme song to the Captain Kangaroo show.  It is one of those weird things about the brain.  For years that song had been tucked away somewhere in my gray matter and then one day it showed up again.  My ability to perform it has become my "stupid human trick".  I really think everyone should have one.

"Jingle, jingle, jingle.  Do you hear what I hear? 
 Jingle, jingle, jingle.  It's something just for you.
Is it a sleigh bell?  No, it's not a sleigh bell.  
Is it a doorbell?  No, it's not a doorbell.  
It's the sound of the keys to the treasure house... 
and Captain Kangaroo!"

And there is much more which I won't recite here.  But I want you to know that I could.  Most certainly could!

However, this really isn't about the wonderful workings of the brain.  It's not even about Captain Kangaroo. It is about the bain of my family's existence for many years now.


It's about keys.  You know.  The kind that start your engine so you can go conquer the world everyday.  The kind that quickly get you into your house when you cannot "hold it" another minute!  The kind that go "jingle, jingle, jingle" in your pocket until you lose them, at which time they fall deathly silent.

Some people have a huge wad of keys they carry around with them.  Seriously?  Why would you do that?  First of all, they're heavy when you have more than,  say, 15 on a keychain.  Secondly, how long must it take to find the right key?  Who needs the frustration, you know?  

The only time I think it would come in handy to carry that many keys would be if someone came up behind me and said, "Ma'am, give me the key to your car and no one gets hurt".  Then, with a shaky hand I would toss over the "wad" to him and he would be like "dang lady, what do all these keys go to?",  and I would be all cool and just sort of shrug.  Long before he figured out which one was the car key he would get frustrated, throw the keys on the ground and that would be the end of it.  That is the only good reason I can think of to carry around a lot of keys.  But what are the odds?

All I know is that if you were  looking for someone to be "the keeper of the keys" you would not want it to be anyone in my immediate family.  Ever.

There are five people in my immediate family.  One day some years ago,  I got tired of dealing with the house key situation.  Where is it?  Who has the house key?  Where did we hide it outside?  So I went to Hasse's Hardware Store and watched them make me five keys.  With my original, we would then have a total of six.  Everyone had their own key with one to spare.  Total key organization.  I can safely say that house keys weren't an issue for all of a couple of weeks.  Then slowly, one by one, they just vanished into thin air until one day, no one had one but me.  Along with the lost keys went their recollections of ever having been given keys.

 Just a bunch of deniers--that's what they are.  

The children no longer live at home, but still somehow we all seem to be twisted up with keys.

My sisters and I are heirs to my uncle's house in the mountains.  My aunt made us each a set of keys.  I loaned mine to my boys, who lived there for a summer.  We all maintain there was never a key to the front door.  Only the garage door.  Then my brother-in-law found a key to the front door and made several copies for all of us. Great, except for he couldn't remember where he put them or the original.  So we're back to no key for the front door.  My keys became involved in a game of  "key, key, who's got the key?  Turns out, no one has it.  Right now I have in my possession only one way to get into that  house.  The garage door opener.  Sometimes it works and other times not so much.

My oldest son attends school in Michigan and has left his 1992 Mercedes station wagon with his younger brother.  Younger brother has one key, which is on his keychain.  Younger brother leaves for Germany.  He gives his father his one little key.  Father puts it on his keychain.  Father leaves for a business trip with the key.  Brother returns home a few days before father.  Oops.  No key to the car.  But that's okay, because there is another set of keys...on a red keychain.  I remember.  They were given to us for safe-keeping by our oldest son.  Ha.

"Jake, you know where they are, right?" I say.

"I don't think I've ever seen them.  I've only had that one key the whole time I've used Adam's car," he says.

 We've played the blame game. 

 "I have never seen another set of keys," my husband says from his cell phone in a city miles away.

 "Well I have never once driven that car so why would I ever have had them," I say.

Then we deny.

"Maybe Adam never left us that extra set of keys after all".

Holy guacamole.

If I'm honest I will admit that even I occasionally am prone to losing keys.  Out of my two other siblings, my parents chose me to hold the extra key to their safe deposit box.  In my mind it was probably because I was the most responsible.  If you ask the sisters, though, they would probably--no, most assuredly-- say it was only because at the time they each lived about 1,000 miles away.  Whatever the case, my parents would later say it was ill-placed trust because when they closed that box several years later and needed to turn in the keys, not only could I not find the dang key, I was only vaguely aware of having been given the key.  

That is when I decided it was too much pressure to be "the holder of the keys".

But pressure or not, that is my position in my family.  Holder of the keys.  When someone can't find a key, who do they come looking for?  Me.  So, I created something fondly known in my house as "the key bowl".  It's a cute little antique bowl and it currently holds lots of keys that we have no idea what they unlock/turn on.  

 It currently does NOT hold my husbands truck keys which have gone missing as of this morning.  He searched high and low.  I joined the search, retracing his steps from where he last parked his truck to the front door of the house.  No keys.  Where does he turn for help?  Me.  I would like to go on record as having removed the only remaining key to his truck from my keychain and placing it in his hand.  I no longer have a key to the truck!

My husband looks one last time in his truck for his key.  He walks back in the door and I say to him, "Any luck?"  He says, "No, I couldn't find it.  But look what I did find!"

In his hand he holds up a red key chain with the second set of keys to my son's old Mercedes.  They were under the seat of his truck--apparently teleported there because, as my husband earlier stated, he'd never, ever seen a second set of keys.

That's when I thought to myself that sometimes you have to lose something to find something.  Then I had to smile at how God continually reminds me of his words and promises through things as silly as lost and found keys.

P.S.  I pondered "keys" and wrote this last week just before I left for vacation.  I planned to post it after I get home next week. However, last night while sipping something refreshing in the small town of Kane, Pennsylvania,  I got a text from my son who is vacationing/house-sitting with his sister at our house.  It seems relevant to post now.

This was his text.

"Lainey lost the house key". 


the key bowl.