I’m in line with eight other women, all dancing from one foot to the other, trying not to wet our pants while we wait our turn to get in the ladies’ room.
Across the hall is the men’s room. Nobody has come in – or out – for 10 minutes. What is it with guys? They guzzle those ball park brews like maniacs. Why don’t they have to go as often as we do? Do they all have 20-gallon tanks like those monster trucks they drive? Anyone with a brain knows women take longer. You don’t need an anatomy lesson for that. So why don’t we have potty parity? When will we finally go unisex?
Enough with philosophy. If this keeps up, what’s going to happen to me? Depends. Ha-ha. No! Don’t laugh. It’ll just make it worse.
Now I’m desperate. My sisters are all eyeballing that door, waiting for someone to get done checking their eyeshadow and come out. Nobody’s watching the other side. This is my chance! I run for the men’s room door like the woman warrior I know I am. It opens … and I’m inside … alone. No one is the wiser.
Whew! It brings back a memory, not a happy one, of the last time I was in a men’s room. It was a frat party and I was a bit tipsy. Heck, I was drunk. I had been hammered by four “tall boys” and I staggered into what I thought was the ladies’ room because I just saw a long-haired blonde come out.
It wasn’t. I bounced right off the chest of the captain of the football team. We stared at each other for a second. Then he ignored my pleading eyes and burst out laughing. He laughed so hard that the whole frat house heard him as I bolted out the front door. And, by the next day, all the girls in my dorm were laughing. It was even worse than when I dropped my tray in the college cafeteria and everyone stood up and applauded.
But at least here, I’m alone. I walk cautiously past the urinals because there’s a puddle in front of each one. Guys, I’ve noticed, often have an erroneous presumption about themselves that it’s longer than it really is. But this is ridiculous. Stand up close, people. Hug it if you have to. A man’s pee should exceed his grasp, or what’s a toilet for?
At the end is salvation — a stall. I duck in, slam the door, shuck my pants, and take the throne. And then, suddenly, I can’t go. What’s wrong with me! Then I realize: my bladder knows it’s in the wrong place. It’s scared. What can I do? If I leave, I’ll only have to come back. Or, worse yet, I’ll have to stand in that ever-growing line across the hall that’s now probably up to a dozen.
Hang in there, I tell myself. If you sit here, it will come. Finally, the waterworks. Ahhh … it’s heaven.
Then the door slams open. I hear footsteps. Multiple footsteps. Then voices. Men’s voices, what else? They’re talking about some “hot babe.” Don’t listen! “And guess what I got her to do?” Don’t Listen. Remember, you’re behind the green door. You are water closet anonymous. Don’t flush. They’ll think you’re coming out.
More footsteps. One heads toward the soggy urinals. The other comes … in my direction. Thank God, I’m wearing jeans. All he can see are my feet. I look down. I’m wearing hooker heels with ankle straps.
Shed the shoes! Hide ’em behind the toilet. Yes, but my toenails are painted fuchsia. Can my toes pass for transgender? Get those feet up.
He’s reached the stall and he rattles the door. Thank God, it’s locked. He tries to peer through the crack. I smell beer breath. Brings back memories of that night with the football captain.
He bangs on the door. “Somebody in there?”
I muffle my voice. “Yeth.”
He bangs again. “What’s goin’ on?” his buddy asks.
“Friggin’ door’s locked.”
Why can’t guys just take “no” for an answer?
“Who’s in there?”
I reach deep inside for my baritone voice. “Go away!”
“Sounds like a chick to me.”
“She’s gotta come out sometime.”
“Yeah, I can wait.”
“Hey, get out your cell phone. We can put this on YouTube.”
Desperation takes hold. It is the wind beneath my wings. Hey, I ran track in high school. I fling open the door, whizz past their dumb faces. I’m a blur as I head past this porcelain hell for the safety of the outside world. Almost there …
But wait. Don’t I have to wash my hands?
Ed Leefeldt, who has stumbled into a Ladies Room on occasion, works for Forbes.com and is the author of The Woman Who Rode the Wind, a novel about early flight.