Now, I know we've been discussing grace and parenting and regrets. It's something I don't want to stop writing about. Grace is the reason I rise in the morning, so I hope you'll let me revisit the topic.
But I have to take a moment and just release some pent-up emotion.
Just seeing one of these causes me such angst...
Everything about them makes me cringe. The smells, the lack of running water, the instability of the entire structure.
My parents travel to Africa often enough to report that an American port-a-potty is completely safe compared to what they use in the slums of Nairobi. [Gulp] That makes me an ungrateful, American pansy. I do not deny the label.
Pair that with my very real teenage fears of being tipped over while in one of these suckers - particularly the one that was planted out by the softball fields - and I'm pretty sure that makes me a candidate for anti-anxiety medication.
If that wasn't enough to make me do the potty dance until I could find a real bathroom, there was that one story. If you know the story, I don't need to say anymore. If you don't know the story, you missed a few slumber parties in the nineties that would have enlightened you to port-a-potty reality. I was at Alli Dirksen's house in my sleeping bag eating Skittles when someone eerily told me the story - the one about a perverted man wrapping himself in saran wrap and camping out in the bottom of a womens' Johnny-on-the-Spot. He was discovered, announced an adolescent girl in a somber voice, when a woman happened to look down into the depths of nastiness and saw two eyes staring at her. [Insert teenage girl squeals here.]
Now, you know I like to keep it real. Obviously, I do. That's why I'm writing this forbidden post. But I tried to check out this urban legend. It was impossible. If any of you want to tell me what to type into that little Search box to figure out if this is a true story or not without getting really bad stuff online, I'm happy to take suggestions. Although I got some rather humorous articles - like Thomas Crapper did not invent the toilet and a few drops of Visine taken internally will not cause diarrhea in unsuspecting victims - Snopes.com had nothing on the story. But I'm doubtful for only one reason. Call me Sherlock Holmes if you want. The saran-wrap man can't be real because I'm pretty sure a grown woman never, ever would take the time to look down into the darkest mire in one of those bathrooms after relieving herself. If anything, women bolt out of those swinging doors with pants barely up, their bottles of Purell already in hand. Would she really look down?
So, you see my self-inflicted torture anytime we go to the hot air balloon races, or the local rib cook-off.
The stench, the thought of it tipping, and the very idea of two little eyes down there is enough to make me head for the nearest bush.
Then, things got worse.
I had children.
Did I say I wanted children potty-trained? Forget that. I want diapers for all of them. And maybe myself if it means I can avoid that cubicle of calamity.
But I forget about this very real anxiety until we go do something fun, outdoors, where there are a lot of people who will eventually need to relieve themselves.
[Deep Breath.] Like last night, at the small-town football game we attended with my parents.
It was so cute and "small-townish." There were old people wearing "Elect Settelmeyer" t-shirts, and teenagers wearing clothes I'm pretty sure they didn't leave home wearing. There were snack-bar smells, the high school band in their sharp new uniforms, bouncing cheerleaders with orange and black pom-poms, one really loud presumed father yelling at the refs, and in the midst of it all were my three children, riveted by the spectacle of grown young men "bamming into each other."
Then, the Little Man says those horrible words: "I have to go poop."
Dear Lord in Heaven, do you remember that lovely post I did on grace? Might you throw some my way? Can't we just lick our Tootsie Pops and pretend those four words didn't happen?
Again, with emphasis and louder now: I have to go po-ooop!"
Folks around us pretended they didn't hear him. Just like I had been pretending not to hear their conversations, one in particular about an aimless high school daughter who was found with paraphernalia. (I'm pretty sure they weren't talking about sunscreen-and-map kind of paraphernalia.)
My terror was real, but I tried to remain calm. Real Gil scooped up the child with chivalry written all over his face and smiled, "We'll be right back."
The mother-guilt invaded soon after they left. A good mom would take her child to the bathroom. A good mom would never abandon her child and husband to the unknown terrors of the Johnny-on-the-Spot. A good mom would never sit here trying to figure out which cheerleaders have falsies in their bra while her family members may or may not be the saran-wrap man's next victims.
Giddy relief left me with a sigh-laugh - Ha, ha! - when I spotted my two favorite men weaving their way back up the bleachers to our perch. They weren't covered in blue dye so it was a good initial sign.
"Thank you," I said with feeling. Real Gil shrugged his shoulders and said, "He couldn't go." Not that I could blame him on that one.
All was well for a few minutes until the Little Man found the one silent moment in between band numbers and cheers to announce, "I have to go poop again!"
Could we please bring out some sackcloth and ashes?
Real Gil looked at me with questioning eyes, because it was my turn to skip hand-in-hand to the toilet of torment.
I shook my head. "He's fine, he doesn't need to go," I asserted.
Because I've seen the size of those toilet seats. My children could use that toilet seat as a hoola-hoop if given the chance. Which will never happen. One sneeze and I've lost a child to the single place on Earth I won't go to rescue them. Where's that saran-wrap man when he could actually be helpful?
I told the Little Man to squeeze his butt cheeks together and wait until we got home. Okay, that's totally a lie but I wanted to. Instead, my husband elevated himself to saint status by gathering up the sticky, cowboy-booted toddler and marching back to the bathroom. That man couldn't have been braver if he had gone to battle in a kilt with William Wallace.
The scoreboard clock ticked by ever-so-slowly as I waited...one of the girls had me unwrap a piece of candy, open a bottle of water...the lady behind me muttered that the Tigers weren't doing so well tonight...all seemed to be in slow motion.
Then, there was a shining beam of angelic light and our testosteroned-part of the family returned. Angelic voices sang in my head and I shook my mental fist at the silly slumber party story.
Port-a-Potty, shmort-a-potty! We balk at your murky depths, says I. The Tigers might have lost the game last night, but I was victorious. Well, Real Gil was. I was so jubilant we even stopped for a photo op with the team mascot.
So, there. My transparency knows no bounds. You know it now - my fear of the outhouse. I'm not going to spiritualize this post. It's not possible.
But I just might make it into a Halloween costume...or not.