"Toilet Article"

May 27, 2016


“Bad decisions make good stories.” Not so long ago, my son, Joseph, said that to me. I’m sure that he mentioned it regarding some personal incident, but it turns out that it can work for public policy too. Thus, I’m going to muscle my way onto turf that usually is held by my co-Michiana Chronicler, April Lidinsky: Women’s Issues—except this topic really is an Everybody Issue. My apologies for the encroachment, April.

Lately, public policy seems to be going in the direction of being more and more interested in what’s happening inside peoples’ undies. As a somewhat private person, I can tell you that this is making me increasingly nervous. I mean, there is a reason that some areas of our persons have been called “privates” or “unmentionables.” Whether that reticence is healthy or unhealthy for our psyches is another whole discussion where I am not going to go—at least not today.

My interest is more physical than psychological.

First, we had the elected officials of Indiana seeming to want status reports on women’s “lady parts,” thus necessitating that we report to our governor about how things were going with those. Could be considered a little intrusive, not to mention its being a topic usually not considered polite for general consumption. But, there you are, things aren’t what they used to be; the formerly private now is public.

And now, various other states—can oh-so-progressive-in this-area-Indiana be far behind?—are deciding that restroom patrols are in order.

Let’s step back for a moment and think about the national psyche on this. Have you ever thought about how in the United States we refer to these small rooms as “restrooms,” “washrooms,” “bathrooms,” or if you want to be more gender specific: “women’s or men’s rooms?” In other countries, they just flat-out refer to them as toilets. My Mother, a delicate little Southern lady, often referred to that area as the “T.” Sounds genteel, doesn’t it? She would quietly excuse herself, indicating that she was going to “The T.” Took me years to realize that she wasn’t going to afternoon refreshments: not “t-e-a,” but big capital “T” for what Europeans just baldly call “toilets:” something that we Puritans generally shy away from articulating so bluntly.

So here we are, a people too prudish, by and large, usually even to say the word “toilet,” having a segment of people—mostly those in the public trough—wanting to know about everybody’s business in those small rooms. Quite a leap, isn’t it? No wonder it’s getting so much attention. We’ve come back to “Bad decisions make good stories.”

Not since we were small children being potty-trained (another nifty euphemism) have our toilet habits been so discussed, monitored and overseen. This brings me to my beloved, Larry’s, entrepreneurial, job-creation idea in regards to this whole issue. In the American way of “create a need and fill it,” he has speculated that this whole restroom flap is a great business opportunity. Retirees, take heed! As an alternative to Wal-Mart greeter, there now will be the TSA-like opportunity to sit in one of the designated Toilet – Yes, let’s just use that word – Rooms, on a stool (Sort of an irony there, isn’t it?) bringing order to an apparently heretofore chaotic area. The Potty Police are born! Legions of older people, who presumably have enough life-experience to recognize the “job requirements” for determining if you eligible to be in the small room you have chosen, will be stationed in there making you feel safe, comfortable and unthreatened. Talk about a win/win! The general populace will be safe from harm in these areas; older people will have additional income so that they are spared from supplementing their diets with cat food; middlemen hiring and staffing for this new-found need will rake in a bundle, AND public officials can preen about bringing about this whole happy state of affairs. What a perfect resolution to an Everybody Issue AND it makes a good story.