Wednesday, August 25, 2004


In view of our impending visit to Northern Virginia this weekend, it’s a good time to reminisce about our last trip up there. Back in May, we joined a group of our classmates for a tour of the U.S. Capitol at the invitation of Senator Bill Frist (R-TN). Yeah, I know he’s a Republican and all, but after all, we did go to school together. And the tour was pretty impressive, I have to admit. Here we were in the Capitol Rotunda, the exact spot where Ronald Reagan’s mortal remains would lie in state a month later.

Reagan’s-eye view of the Capitol Rotunda. 

And here we were in U.S. Senate - not in the gallery, mind you, but on the Senate floor itself, with my butt parked in Teddy Kennedy’s chair on the back row.

It was about that time that Frist explained that Kennedy was entitled to sit up front based on his seniority, but that he preferred to sit in the back of the chamber - at the desk his brother Jack had used.

Geez Louise. Having had my butt in JFK’s chair now allows me to play all kinds of “six degrees of separation” games. Jackie, Marilyn, Gawd knows who else...

After getting the tour, we repaired to the Madison Room for a cocktail reception. Several of us had a chance to take the lectern and make some impromptu remarks... so now I can say I’ve made a speech at the U.S. Capitol. Whoop-de-do.

But that’s not the point of this post. This is:

On the way back, we had a layover in Charlotte, North Carolina. Getting a nonstop was apparently not an option thanks to Mr. Cheap-O (me) using his last remaining pile of USAir frequent flyer miles to pay for the tickets. OK, fine, except USAir is never - repeat, never - on time out of Charlotte. So we had a few hours to kill.

Killing time in an airport will eventually involve eating and drinking. Possibly as a result of the latter, there will also be micturition. So with that as my goal, I excused myself from She Who Must Be Obeyed and headed for the restroom. Ah, here’s one!

I nipped in and started looking around for a urinal. Hmmm, no urinals. Sinks and a lotta stalls - in some grotesque architectural snafu, did they put the urinals in the back somewhere? Never mind. An open stall at the end of the row beckoned, so in I went. Unzip. Let fly. Aaaaahhhh, sweet relief.

Sometime in mid-whiz, a nagging thought occurred to me. Where were the damned urinals? Most peculiar. If there had been a sofa, why, I’d have thought I was in the ladies’ room!

And that’s when I saw it.

The box.

The metal box perched on the stall partition, adjacent to the bunwad dispenser.

The metal box that is not a standard component of your typical men’s room - because guys don’t need a place to put used sanitary napkins.

Oh, shit.

Good thing I was at the end of the row, where I was less likely to be discovered. Especially since I had left the door open. Guys do not shut the stall door if all they’re doing is taking a whiz.

I stuck my head out to confirm my suspicions. Yep, this was definitely not the men’s room. By now, there were several women at the sinks, washing up. My task was to get past them without attracting too much attention - especially since I figured that any attention I got was likely to result in my arrest on the grounds of general pervitude, or extreme stupidity at the very least.
Cop: “Sir, did you not see the sign? Or notice any other clue that this was where the ladies make pee-pee?”

Me: “Er, aaahhh...”
There was a bank of four sinks right across from me. Then a divider, and another bank of sinks. Past that, the exit. There were women at the second bank of sinks, but not at the one across from me.

So I stepped out of the stall, quickquickquick washed my hands - and then ran like a son-of-a-bitch for the exit.

To this day, I still shake my head with amazement. That I got out of there without getting busted? That I went in there in the first place? That I had the presence of mind to notice the amazing lack of urinals and yet was oblivious enough not to grasp what that meant?

No. I’m amazed that I took the time to wash my hands.

1 comment:

Shafer said...

My grandfather occasionally calls my grandmother "She Who Must Be Obeyed," and I always assumed that the epithet came from some Kipling passage I haven't read. Your posting prompted me to look it up and so discover Modjadji the Rain Queen! Boy howdy, I could write a few thousand poems about her. Hooray!