Wednesday, April 3, 2013


I've been working in the field a lot lately. Not literally in a field. It means outside, at remote locations. Not that they're that remote, in fact they're often in the middle of New York City. Extremely non-remote locations. Sometimes I have to pee. I know - with a few notable exceptions, this blog has been strictly G-rated up to this point, a family program, but I hope you'll bear with me.

There is a mystique surrounding the "public" bathroom in this city. A sort of secret code for entry, an underground cabal of gatekeepers at every door. There are a million signs for FOOD and DRINK, they're everywhere you look, but there are like five signs total for RESTROOM in the entire city, and the restrooms are almost never just on the street, open to the public. It illustrates a sort of fundamental denial of the workings of society, and for that matter of the human body.

On the doors of pizza places are harsh warnings against use of the restroom by anyone other than "paying customers" (excluding, I suppose, any other kind of customer). They are curtly worded. Underlining and extra exclamation points are common. And then finally, should you cross the threshold, should you purchase A Piece Of Pizza, or a Bottle Of Water, you are granted grudging access and direction to a tiny room in which to take a whizz.

Once in the room, you must stand and read further signage regarding proper behavior during your short stay. Some of it is fairly insulting, implying that you would take bizarre and disgusting actions now that you've been left alone with a toilet for five minutes. Much of it is graphic and slightly disturbing. All of it is prohibitive and poorly-written. The bottom line is: We May Have Allowed You (The Paying Customer) To Use The Restroom But We Still Don't Fully Trust You. So watch it, buddy.


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