Friday, August 23, 2013

Why Public Bathrooms Frighten and Confuse Me

I find going to the bathroom confusing.  I thought for sure that wouldn't happen for at least another fifty years or so.  I'm okay at home.  Home, I can handle.  It's when I go out in public...that's when trouble starts. 

But there you have it - I'm a thirty-seven year old woman who worries that every time she goes to the bathroom, she won't know how to do it right.

Actually, I guess age has nothing to do with it because my kids find it confusing, too.  And I've seen women of all ages in the restroom, looking bewildered and frustrated and wondering how all of this is supposed to work.  In fact just the other day, I was standing in the restroom at Red Robin, waiting for my youngest daughter to come out of the stall and watched as a woman around my age stood in front of the faucet and waited impatiently for the water to come on.  And I finally decided to throw her a bone.

"Uh.  You have to use the handle to turn that on."

She looked mortified and then began to laugh as she turned on the water the "old fashioned way" by actually twisting a fixture to make the water flow.  And then she turned cautiously toward the paper towel dispenser and I knew she was thinking, "Now how does this damn thing work?"

I'm a big fan of technology.  Love it.  I want to hug my DVR every night after I put the kids to bed and I can watch the television shows I've saved up all week in uninterrupted silence.  I have about two apps on my iPhone because I can't really figure it out, but I really enjoy being able to get my weather when I want it and read my Facebook newsfeed as I sit in the carpool lane.  Technology is awesome.  But I'm starting to think that it has its place.

And it's not in the bathroom.

The thing's not standard everywhere you go.  Not every bathroom has the same set-up.  When I walk in, I have to silently evaluate everything so that I don't look like a complete fool.

"Okay, motion-activated sink.  Manual paper-towel.  Auto flush.  Got it."

It still amazes me that my children will use public restrooms at all because for a while they were all absolutely terrified to use the toilet.  There they would sit, just doing their business, knowing that one little move would send the automatic toilet into a flush with so much suction, I'm surprised I didn't lose one of them in the mall plumbing. 

Of course, there is the other side of that - the five minute wait for it to flush so that you won't be one of "those people" who leave their toilet unattended.

I can't tell you how much time I've wasted, standing in front of sinks, waving my hands around like a germy mime, only to have the water turn on just as I've given up and started to move to another one.  Then I'll rush back to the original sink, hoping to just catch enough to rinse my hands off, only to have it stop flowing the second my hands aim for the water.

I know this is supposed to be helping our water consumption, but frankly I just don't see it.

And then there's the dance.  You know...the one that we have to do to get something to dry our hands off.  We wave in front of that little red light.  Nothing.  We start moving our entire upper body.  Nope.  Then in desperation, we start doing the tango until one little square pops out and we end up drying our hands on our pants anyway.

Again, I know that this whole automated system is supposed to help the environment.  And I'm all for that kind of stuff.  But the truth is, I'm dehydrated because I'm scared that too much liquid will force me into a bathroom I don't understand.  I feel old, thinking about the time I've wasted waiting for something to flush, run, or pop out.  And I'm worried that we're raising a generation of children that, should they come upon some sort of bathroom fixture with a handle, they won't know what to do.

Oh, well.  I guess they can always Google it.  Gotta love technology.

Friday, August 2, 2013

I'm Too Young to be Old and Too Old to Be Young

I had a hard time getting to sleep last night because I was so excited about this morning.

"This is it," I thought, staring at my ceiling, my body charged with anticipation.  "It's finally going to happen."

I wasn't talking about my birthday.  It's not Christmas.  I wasn't even thinking about a hot date.

My carpets were getting cleaned.

When did I get to this point?  When holidays and vacations meant exhaustion and work and freshly cleaned carpets were something I dreamed about at night with heady anticipation?

I'm not sure, but I think it was mid-way through year 35 when I came home early from a weekend at a five-star hotel because I couldn't wait to get my trees in my backyard trimmed.

Thirty-seven is a weird age because in some ways I feel so old (thus, the steam-cleaning excitement) but still young enough to want my mom's opinion on everything.  I feel too old for dating (or too tired of it is probably more accurate) yet too young to declare myself single for the rest of my life.  I feel completely ready to retire, but don't have the funds for it.

I'm very conflicted.

My kids are getting older and I keep asking myself, "Wait.  When did that happen?  How is possible that my daughter looks like a teenager when I myself am only 19-years-old?"  I'm to the point where a Law & Order marathon on TV has me much more excited than the thought of getting myself together and actually going somewhere (it's just so much work). Several years ago the thought of leaving my house without make-up - even to just go to the grocery store - would have never entered my mind.  Now I look at my make-up bag and think, "I wonder if I still know how to put that stuff on?"

I got together with some elementary school friends this summer and we remembered times past like they were yesterday...and then started comparing age spots.  We talked about who was divorced (which shocked me that we were old enough to be on our second marriages - which is ridiculous considering I could potentially be married a second time thanks to the early departure of my own husband), people who were now educated (and old enough) to be considered experts in whatever field they were in...and then the conversation switched to wondering if we still had it in us to participate in a greased watermelon contest like we did when we were 10.

It reminds me of that part in Fried Green Tomatoes when Kathy Bates says, "I'm too young to be old and I'm too old to be young."

I hear ya, sister.  And there are days that ramming the into the bumper of the younger generation sounds pretty good to me, too.

I played golf with my dad yesterday and when we checked in, the teenager at the counter asked me, "Senior discount?"

I was this close to putting my finger in his face and saying, "Listen you little whipper-snapper...."

Now, I know that I don't look like a senior (however I did want to come home and throw away the new anti-aging cream I've been using), but apparently I've hit that age that to the younger generation, just means old.  And as my dad was paying his green fee - using his senior discount - I started thinking about how he gets discounts for being older and my kids get discounts for being younger.

But I am apparently getting penalized for being 37 by paying full price no matter what I'm doing.


However, on the glass is half-full side, I'm just glad I'm not a 37-year-old guy.

At least I still have ladies night at any age (if I ever decide to go out again).