Have you ever HAD to do something you promised yourself you would never do again? Perhaps you had an especially bad experience at a fast food restaurant. You vowed never to eat there again for the rest of your life, yet one day you find yourself starving on the road trip to nowhere and decide it is the only option. You must go for it regardless of the last dreadful experience. That happened to me today with port-o-potties. I have managed to avoid them for more than twenty years. I don’t think I’ve used one since the Lilith Fair concert in the 90’s, and that wasn’t all that bad because it was basically all women. I’ve been a sports mom for almost ten years, and I’ve still avoided entering the door to doom. I am a urine camel. I can hold my own. I am an extra long tanker truck just trying to get back home. Nothing could make me break my own rule – until today.
I know better, people! You must always limit your liquids before activities that might only have a port-o-potty option. Today we happened to be out the door before 7:00 a.m., and I drank a cup of hot tea and a protein smoothie. It was wrong, and I knew it. I chose to dance with danger. I reflected on the last several games we’ve played this season, and they all had restrooms. “This probably won’t be any different,” was my thought as I enjoyed my liquid protein concoction.
As we pulled up to the sports field, I quickly realized it was literally a field. We were in the middle of nowhere. There were hay bales bordering each playing field! As I scanned the scene I noticed a man was fishing in a tank at the fields AND he was near the port-o-potties. Oh the horror! It had been a thirty-minute drive, and the game didn’t start for another thirty minutes. The game would be at least an hour. I was looking at a two-hour window of regret. I knew that this would be rough, and I certainly wasn’t at Lilith Fair. I began to panic and told my husband I was about to gag at the prospect. He said you can’t gag at just the thought of using a port-o-potty, but I assured him I could. I then decided statistics could assist me. There were seven port-o-potties arranged in an “L” shape. Perhaps I could observe for a few minutes and see which one got the least use.
As I waited for the first user, I noticed that one facility was larger than the others. It was likely handicap-accessible. I told my husband that was probably the one to use because surely people wouldn’t take the chance of making a disabled person wait. I was wrong! It was the busiest of all of them. Clearly people like the extra room in their port-o-potty experience. Who knew? That one was definitely off my list. I then observed all the users were men. Men are everything that is wrong with the port-o-potty experience. This only increased my level of panic. The good news was each man leaving was rubbing his hands with hand sanitizer, and I liked the idea of a generous dousing of antibacterial goodness upon my exit.
I had made my decision: I was going far left. I watched a news report once that said the cleanest public bathroom stall is always the closest one to the entrance, and I was relying on that scientific data along with my own observations. As I walked to the door of doom, I wondered how it had come to this. I’ve always been so smart. How could I have let me guard down? How would I do this without touching anything? I didn’t even really remember how it all worked, and I was nervous. As I lifted the latch with my wrist so as not to contaminate my hand, I knew there was no turning back. I also wondered why I hadn’t thought to have my husband drive me down the road to McDonald’s instead of doing a side-by-side statistical analysis of port-o-potty usage. Dang it!
As I entered the chamber of darkness and mystery, I decided I should move quickly. Time to get in and get out. There would be no breathing, no looking, and no touching. I decided to stay on my tiptoes as to limit exposure to the bottom of my shoes. These shoes could not enter the house today. Once in, I assumed the position and was immediately thankful that I had been working out and that my legs were in shape. In order that I not make any physical contact with anything, I would do a quick hover, stay on my toes the whole time, and get out. Here was the conversation that took place in my head over the next minute:
I can do this. I am a mature, intelligent woman. I can do anything I set my mind to. It is all in my head. I’ve got this. I am on my tiptoes and I am hovering with my eyes closed and purposely not breathing and this feels weird. I saw a similar position once in an article highlighting the form and flexibility of modern dancers. Maybe this was her inspiration.
Where is this going? That’s quite a drop zone. It sounds like a waterfall off of a large Hawaiian cliff. Think about Hawaii. Hawaii is your happy place. Yes, you are at a Hawaiian waterfall.
I’m breathing again! Why am I breathing? I can’t start breathing. At least my eyes are still closed.
How does this thing even work? I don’t get it. I will pretend it is a magical toilet and not worry about the mechanics. I am in Hawaii for goodness sakes.
I think I need to look real quick. I really don’t want to open my eyes, but I must get my bearings. Okay, I am looking. Good Lord there is a urinal in here! With the hover it is at eye level. Avert the eyes from the urinal immediately. Why can’t I find the handle so I can flush? Oh my gosh!!!! I can’t flush!!!! Now I remember the mechanics! Stop breathing!!!!!
Look straight ahead. Straight to the door that is four inches from your face. Why is there mud on the door? It is very muddy outside. Why is the mud up so high? Is that mud? I’m not positive that is mud. Don’t make assumptions. Calm down. Why are you so negative?
Why didn’t I have this story when I wrote my Tales From The Can story for the blog? This deserves its own moment.
Okay, I can’t take this. I thought I could, but I can’t. I can’t handle this situation. My calves are cramping from the modern dance poses. I am breathing, and I am looking, and I am cramping. I must abort this mission immediately.
Wait, I need at least six ounces of hand sanitizer in my hands before I exit. I will scrub it all the way up to my elbows as if I am entering the O.R. for surgery. I will open the door first, get my feet out of this space, and I will fill my hands with sanitizer with the door wide open. I don’t care if people think that is weird. No one should be staring at all the port-o-potties anyway. What kind of freak does that? Wait, I did that for about twenty minutes.
I made my exit, and once in the clear I put my hands on my knees and lowered my head as if I had just finished a marathon. It felt like a marathon – a marathon of panic. I was exhausted. I was really thirsty, too. I decided to get something to drink. It would just need to be two hours later in the comfort of my own home where I would not be wearing my shoes.