Why do public restrooms look like nuclear holocaust victims? It’s amazing how many women aren’t properly potty trained. Unfortunately I’m never home and I pee often. There is nothing like a public toilet to remind you that human nature is filthy when no one is watching.
Once I had a really unsettling experience in a public bathroom late at night. I thought I was alone and I had just unzipped my jeans when the stall next to me whispered, “Are you mentally ill?” and dissolved back into complete silence. I knew that I wasn’t but my neighbor clearly was. No one was around, and for a second I thought that I was going to die right there on the pee stained floor, next to someone’s used tampon, murdered by a lunatic.
I’ve always been terrified by encounters with the mentally ill. Nothing is more disturbing or hopeless than a lost mind. My fear began with Betty, a woman who wandered the neighborhood in a potato sack shaped dress and smiled at everyone in the kind of disconnected way that made you think she just returned to earth after being abducted by Martians. Her greasy hair and the sad looking flowers all over her sad looking dress haunted me for years. To this day when someone on the subway gets up and starts to preach about seeing Jesus at breakfast I want to pee my pants. On rare occasions you can’t help but laugh if the situation is too ridiculous to feel sad. Once I stood next to a man who was coaching the other men on the true nature of father’s day. He was wearing a blonde wig and encouraging the male passengers to do the same, suggesting that for the holiday they borrow their wives undergarments and have themselves a real nice party. “Don’t be ashamed,” he comforted them, “you dress yourself up real nice in them silky drawers, stand up and say, world here I am!” I would’ve loved to be on that guest list.