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Tuesday, 31 May 2011


By Mary B Summerlin who keeps a photostream at Flickr

When my son, Jeff was three to five years old, I knew where every public bathroom was in Dutchess County. Anytime we went somewhere - anywhere – the first thing was, “Mom, Mom I have to have to go to the bathroom.”

You know the pained look, the crossed legs and the message from his eyes that if he doesn’t go immediately, I’ll be sorry. That is not a request one can easily ignore – there are dire consequences. So we would hurry off to the bathroom.

Frankly, I think most of the time he just wanted to see more of the restaurant or store or wherever we were. Sometimes, I think he just wanted more attention.

Perhaps my bathroom story starts even earlier than that. When Jeff was three we were living in an old school house that we were remodeling. When we began this project, it had no electricity, no plumbing, no heating, no bathroom – just four walls, a roof and boarded up windows. We had an outhouse.

Imagine the feelings and frustrations of having a three-year-old and having to manage the timing and trips to the outhouse. Jeff and I traipsed out to the outhouse in the rain, snow and darkness.

You needed lead time – you had to put on appropriate clothes, rain coat, heavy coat, boots, get an umbrella, whatever. Then you got there and here is a three-year-old trying to do his business while snow is flying in through the cracks and his mother is saying, “Hurry up, hurry up.”

Oh, that was an interesting time. My best Christmas present ever was when my then husband gave me a flushing toilet!

Perhaps that was one of the reasons Jeff always wanted to go to the bathroom; whenever we went somewhere was, there was a novelty to it. It certainly wasn’t like the one we had at home. But after a few years, he outgrew the need to check out all the bathrooms and besides, he was old enough to go by himself.

So for 40 years or so, I forgot about bathrooms. They were not on my priority list. BUT, since a few years ago, they’re on my priority list again - in fact, very near the top. But this time, it’s me that’s the problem. Once again I know where all the public bathrooms are in Dutchess County.

I have learned that as the body ages, all sorts of new and different things happen. You can’t expect to eat as you did as a young adult. Your stomach says, “No, no, no. You’ll be sorry if you eat that or if you keep on eating.”

Your metabolism says, “I’m not going to hurry up or work as efficiently as I used to.” My legs say to me, “What do you expect? We’ve worked for you for many many years doing exactly what you wanted without a squawk. By the way, we don’t think we ever remember you ever saying thank you to us. Now, we’re tired, you’re heavier – you really think we’re going to hurry up and run around like we used to. No, No No. We’ll go slow and easy and by the way – we want to rest fairly often.”

My ankles and feet are swollen so the doctor gives me water pills. Do you know what that means? It means that you go to the bathroom often and urgently. I’m also taking other medications – ones that make my mouth dry, so I spend the day drinking water and running to the bathroom, drinking water and running to the bathroom. Somehow that seems a little ludicrous to me. What am I? A pipe?

Since the time Jeff was little, much has changed – stores have closed, stores have been remodeled, malls have opened and downtown is not a popular place anymore. So the knowledge I had that served me so well back then is no help at all now. I’ve had to start from scratch.

But since this has been going on several years, I’ve made great headway. If you are ever going somewhere with me and need to go to the bathroom, it will be no problem. I’m sure I’ll know where the closest one is, the easiest one to get to, the cleanest one, the one that you can get to with no steps, the one that requires little walking.

I bet I can answer any requirement you have. It’s absolutely amazing the skills that can be developed. I nominate myself as the Best Bathroom Finder in the area.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Mary, what goes around comes around. I remember when I took my 10 and 12 year old to San Francisco. We were staying at a big hotel there. Within 30 minutes, my kids knew where every restaurant was, every bar, the pool, the gym, the door to the roof, etc. They were like a mini surveillance team.

I could have written your bathroom story pretty much word for word with the exception of the outhouse.

You told it just the way it is now and that makes it so funny!

Mary, Please come to Seattle and scope out all the bathrooms for me. You seem to have a nose for it. No pun intended.

Yep! And I know every one between Vermont and Massachusetts children's houses!

Well Friends, we are all living the same lives, only in different locales..bathroom locators anonymous..

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