Used to be, you would go to the ladies room, do the necessary, wash your hands, dry them, check your lipstick, and leave.
Not no more.
Nowadays, you practically need a choreographed dance routine to get a hand towel out of the dispenser. Wave at it. Waggle your fingers underneath. Pull the towel with both hands. Pull with one hand, in center. Or use the blow drier, which we all know, thanks to Facebook, blasts extremely disgusting bathroom germs into your hands. (If you ain’t on Facebook, don’t ask. You’re better off not knowing.)
My mother-in-law Ms. Larda thinks the towel dispenser manufacturers are doing this on purpose to drive us to hand sanitizer.
She says they probably secretly own hand sanitizer companies. But she is too smart for them. She sewed terrycloth pockets on all her pants, so she don’t ever have to grovel in front of the towel dispenser.
She and myself and my friend Awlette are on our way to Tennessee for a fingernail art workshop. Awlette is a nail artist, and she is going to demonstrate. Me and Ms. Larda are bringing our fingernails to be decorated. We are taking turns driving, keeping alert with gas station coffee, making a lot of potty stops, and rating the restrooms for our trip back.
Awlette points out that we don’t have the problem of drying our hands unless we get them wet. And we need another routine for that. We can’t just turn the handles on the faucets no more. We got to wave or waggle, and also wave or waggle under the soap dispenser. Usually either the faucet or the soap dispenser works, but never both. You get your hands wet, and then you got to wave your hand under the soap dispenser at the next sink, but the lady at that sink don’t notice, because she is trying to decide whether to wave or waggle under the faucet.
Ms. Larda just reaches in her enormous purse and pulls out a bottle of water and a bar of soap in a Tupperware box.
Like I said, she’s prepared.
But even she can’t carry an extra toilet.
And now they got robot-controlled flushers. Now, my own mama brought me up to be a foot flusher. You touch nothing with your hands. After you finish your business, you stand up, turn around and rare back— this is tricky if you got on spike heels and a tight skirt, but you do it— and you push that flusher with your foot.
But now the toilets got Electric Eyes — which got to be a violation of privacy. These things watch when you stand up and are supposedly there to flush for you. But half the time they get excited and flush when you are still busy sitting. Or else they don’t even notice you stood up, and you got everything pulled up and you’re ready to leave, but you don’t like to leave the toilet unflushed. So you dance around a little, to catch the Eye’s attention, and if that don’t work, you turn around and look at the tiny button there, which is the manual flusher, but you ain’t going to touch THAT (your mama again) so you got to balance on one foot and poke it with your toe. Thanks a lot, Eye.
Of course, Ms. Larda got the answer in a plastic bag in her purse. It’s a black hood from somebody’s old Batman costume.
When she goes into the stall, she drops this hood over the Electric Eye. It immediately flushes, while she is getting her drawers down and putting her purse strap between her teeth. (We all do this because of that urban legend that purse snatchers will reach over stall door and snatch your purse off the purse hook there while you got your drawers down.) But then the flusher shuts up, like when you put a towel over a parrot’s cage. It keeps quiet until she’s done. Then she removes the hood, and the toilet flushes like it’s supposed to.
So that’s the secret to dealing with public restrooms these days. Be prepared and carry a big purse.