Yesterday, once again the single-person ladies' room was occupied and there was someone in line in front of me. Once again the single-person men's room was empty. Once again I sashayed into the men's room. Once again, I didn't get arrested for it. Nothing happened. Except that I didn't have to wait in line to use the bathroom.
Which begs the question, actually two questions: When there are two individual- commode public bathrooms side by side why can't anybody go into either one? And why should we gals have to queue up when there's a perfectly usable facility going vacant one door over?
To quote The Dude's famous line from the movie "The Big Lebowski", this aggression will not stand, Man.
At least not for me.
So whenever the women's side is locked, I always stake my claim on the men's side. It makes no sense not to. Yet I wonder every time: is it illegal?
I wasn't always such a restroom renegade.
About 40-some years ago back when I was a young waitress in a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop at a truck stop along the Roosevelt Boulevard in Northeast Philadelphia, my manager, James, an
African American gentleman from Virginia Beach , caught me during my break waiting outside the occupied employees' women's restroom.
"Why don't you use this one?" He asked, cocking his head towards the men's room.
My jaw must have dropped and my eyes bugged, for I was 18 years old and horrified at what he'd just suggested.
"Why not?" he continued, " Men's room is just as clean as ladies' here. You don't have separate bathrooms at home, do you?"
Of course there was no arguing his logic, but he was bandying about the proposition of breaking the most primordial of taboos. To James my using the men's room may have been sensible, but to me it was unthinkable.
And so it remained until a few years ago when I was out at a restaurant with my daughter Claire, who had just returned from a year of working in the jungle in Nicaragua.
At one point she and I headed back to the ladies' room together to find that it was of the single-occupancy variety and occupied. Claire said, "Oh well," and stepped over to the men's room.
"What are you doing?!" I cried.
Claire looked back over her shoulder as she stepped through the mens' room door and answered with the same question that James had posed all those years ago: "Why not?"
And because I was at a point in my life when so many mellowing years separated me from the green youngster I'd been the first time that question was put to me, that this time the question served as a moment of epiphany and liberation; and as the ladies's room was still occupied when Claire exited the men's room, she held the door for me as I entered. And I've been entering ever since.
And though I realize, as Claire pointed out to me last night when I told her the subject of today's blog, that revealing to the world our identity as men's room crashers could jeopardize our advantage if others of our sisters around the planet decide to join us in this practice, still I'm going to take a stand:
I hereby propose that gender-designating single-commode public bathrooms go the way of covered wagons and facebook. These one-seaters should still exist in pairs, but not as men's rooms or ladies' rooms; they should be called everybody rooms, and no more pictures of gentlemen, ladies, or icons germaine to either, only one of these on the door: