Writing for the Ahwatukee Foothills News is not without its perks. For one thing, I get to use the phrase “my editor” in a casual, off-hand way as if my next stop is the Algonquin Round Table. And then there was the time I got recognized at the mall; Dad, Interrupted was surprised I could fit my head in the car after that one.
But the best part is when I get feedback. It’s the ultimate compliment when someone is sufficiently stirred by enthusiasm or even annoyance to take the trouble to contact me.
And so I was flushed with delight to receive comments from several men who had obviously read every single word of the recent “Potty Parity” piece (where I expounded on women’s fight for equal opportunity facilities) and felt moved to communicate long, thoughtful analyses. I was surprised, too, because I never imagined that a lighthearted salute to the can would engender such a response.
I had no idea you guys thought about the john so much. But you do, so let’s go.
He (and when I say “he,” I mean “anyone who wrote or pulled me aside”) said: This bathroom line business is a self-inflicted problem and women should stop complaining or even commenting on the issue in the first place. Women could alleviate overcrowding by not applying makeup in public bathrooms.
She (and when I say “she,” I mean “me,” as a veteran of the Bataan Bathroom Line) said: I am giving witness that women are not standing in lines snaking out to the parking lot so they can apply lipstick. There’s never a wait for the sink. It’s the stalls we’re waiting for.
He said: You shouldn’t require stalls. “(Men) stand shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip, unzip and go to the bathroom, in one long receptacle... there is no room/place for modesty in a men’s bathroom.”
She said: You realize, of course, that women don’t need stalls because of modesty. No, we need stalls because of the laws of physics. I would be thrilled to be able to do that whole “hip to hip” thing at a trough, except that I’d have to stand in the trough to pull that trick off and quite frankly, I could break a hip. I also need to point out that at least two of you have no idea what all those feminine hygiene commercials are talking about. Don’t look at me for an explanation; this is a family newspaper.
He said: Group bathroom visits are adding to stoppages in the women’s loo. You’ll have to cut that you-know-what out before you start demanding more porcelain facilities.
She said: We could, of course, but there’s one group that keeps tagging along with us: the kids. Statistically, moms are the one shouldering the diaper bag on kid public bathroom duty (also known as “herding cats”) because dads are understandably leery of having their daughters witness all that “unzipped hip to hip” efficiency described above.
Men are also statistically unwilling to see how many preschoolers they can fit into a stall like some sort of scatological clown car, and changing diapers (one more thing we’re standing in line to do; what fun), but that’s for another day and another column.
And that’s what she said.
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Elizabeth Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.