Monthly Archives: April 2016

Bathroom Blues


When I was younger, the issue du jour (for a brief time, at least) was “potty parity.” This was the idea that there should be enough bathrooms to satisfy everyone who wanted to use one, without causing undue hardship to one gender or another. This issue arose out of the fact that there was (and still is) frequently a long line for the women’s bathroom, while at the same time there is often none for the men’s, even at events where you would think there would be more men then women present, like football games. “Potty Parity” would have taken this fact into account when designing new venues, and planned for more women’s restrooms from the very beginning to balance the wait times out.

Although the idea of Potty Parity was heavily supported by women, the push for it, ironically, was started by men: specifically, men who felt uncomfortable after “their” bathroom had been invaded by women who had decided they weren’t going to wait in those long lines any more.

Flash forward twenty or so years. There’s still longer lines for the women’s room, but now the “issue du jour” is no longer women using the men’s room, but rather men using the women’s: specifically, transgendered men. (Although almost no one seems to have a problem with transgendered women using the men’s room, which is nice, I guess.)

Overlooking the fact that 1) why do you care who is in the stall next to you, as long as they will be a pal and pass you some toilet paper when you are out, and 2) if you are looking at the person’s junk standing next to you at the urinal, doesn’t that make you the pervert? there is still a much bigger issue that we are all missing in this battle of the bathrooms. One that has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not you have the “right” equipment or even how long it takes you to get that equipment out and use it. No, this is an issue that goes much deeper than such superficialities as that. This issue is: how do we pass a law requiring there to be two sets of bathrooms in the world, one for teenagers, and one for humans? Or if that’s not feasible, then how do we pass a law keeping teenagers out of bathrooms, period.

I don’t know about you, but I would rather face a veritable army of “men in dresses” (the supposed bugaboo of the new bathroom law proponents) than one single teenage girl reapplying her makeup and fixing her hair. (Not that you would ever see one single teenage girl in a bathroom. Or for that matter, anywhere.) The fumes from the hairspray alone are enough to cause hallucinations. And as for teenage boys—well, let’s just say that fumes are the problem in that scenario as well. (I think scientists should look into the deadly effects of combing Axe body spray and Taco Bell-inspired flatulence. I think it might be comparable to what happens when you mix ammonia and bleach.)

Of course, the real problem here isn’t the public bathrooms—it’s the private ones. Because as annoying as a gaggle of teenagers might be out in the wild, they are five times more annoying when held in captivity—i.e., your house. At least in public bathrooms there is no danger of electrocution because of all of the appliances plugged in and balanced around an overflowing sink. After all, make-up and Axe Body Spray have never actually killed anyone. I think. Which is why, when it comes to sharing a bathroom, I’d much rather have it look like the set of Rocky Horror than Final Destination.

To be honest, if there was a public bathroom within a quick trot of my house, I’d probably use it, regardless of what the little pictogram looked like on the door. As long as that pictogram wasn’t carrying a curling iron, a can of Axe, or a bag of Taco Bell.

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The More You Know


Today I failed as both a parent and as a human being.

No, I didn’t raise the next Unibomber. (Don’t let the hoodies fool you: my kids have absolutely zero idea how the postal service works. They don’t even know which side of the envelope to put the stamp on. If you have ever received an actual mailed letter or post card from either one of them, consider yourself lucky.) I also didn’t raise a child who is seriously considering voting for the man who promises to “make America great again.” (Although even that would be preferable to raising a child who wasn’t planning to vote at all. ) And finally, neither I or my children are the ones who keep sending George R.R. Martin all those Candy Crush invitations, thereby distracting him from finishing the next installment in Game of Thrones. No, I am something much, much worse.

I am the woman who raised a child who can’t tell the difference between AC/DC and Kiss.

This appalling state of affairs came to my attention as I was driving Clyde to school the other day and “Thunderstruck” came on the radio. I don’t know why, but halfway through the song I turned and asked Clyde if he knew who was playing the song we were listening to. He paused, cocked his head to the side, and then said, “Um, is it Kiss?” I nearly drove off the road.

I know, I know: there are a lot of people out there who have absolutely zero interest in classic rock, who couldn’t tell you the difference between the Scorpions and Air Supply, and they manage to get along just fine. (Probably.) And I’m not saying that my kids have to love classic rock, or even like it; I’m just saying that a basic understanding of it is necessary. Why? For the same reason it is necessary to know the difference between a Monet and a Picasso, even if you don’t “like” art. Or to recognize when an author is using a biblical theme, even if you’re not religious. There are just certain bits of knowledge that are cultural touchstones, and not knowing them will show you up as the worst kind of outsider.

That’s probably seems like a stretch, drawing a comparison between an inability to tell when someone is “getting the Led out” and sitting all alone at the lunch table of life, but it’s kind of true. As a species we are hard-wired to notice connections and similarities before we notice anything else, and one of the biggest connections we have is through music. Especially popular music.

Look at it this way. Am I an Elvis fan? No. But I can still tell the difference between Elvis and Buddy Holly, dammit.

At this point I’m not sure if I should have a musical intervention or just give it up as a lost cause—I must admit that I’m definitely leaning toward the latter. Not because I don’t think Clyde will ever be able to learn the difference between the Eagles and Supertramp, but because I don’t think I have it in me to go full on Jack Black “School of Rock” on him. And besides, it’s not like he’s entirely musically ignorant: he does know the difference between the Ramones and the Clash, at least.

Which is good: if he didn’t know at least his basic classic punk, then I think I I really would have to intervene.

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